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William R. Benedetto

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Chief Warrant Officer William R. Benedetto, USCG (ret.) “joined the United States Coast Guard in 1946 and spent the following 28 years in maritime activities. He served aboard search-and-rescue cutters; rescued fishing vessels; handled port security on the Great Lakes; and served as Shipping Commissioner in such active ports as New Orleans, San Pedro, and Portland. He later became an attorney and an avid student of merchant marine history, particularly the story of the Badger State. His articles have appeared in Harper's Magazine and USCG Magazine.” William R. Benedetto is the author of Sailing into the Abyss: A True Story of Extreme Heroism on the High Seas.


Publisher’s Weekly said of Sailing into the Abyss: A True Story of Extreme Heroism on the High Seas, “A thoroughly gripping story of disaster at sea reveals aspects of modern seafaring not always brought to light. The WWII freighter Badger State was bound for Vietnam in December 1969 with 5,000 tons of bombs in her hold. Heavy weather and faulty cargo stowage by the Bangor Munitions Depot caused bombs to start breaking loose—first one, then many, including the 2,000 pounders. Capt. Charles Wilson and a crew inspired by his leadership worked heroically but unsuccessfully to fight the weather and their own cargo. Most of the casualties came when a loose bomb overturned an already-launched lifeboat, throwing most of the crew into 48-degree water. The 14 survivors (out of 40 crewmembers) owed their lives to the presence of the Greek freighter Khian Star and her Captain Nikos.


Benedetto, an attorney and former shipping commissioner, interviewed survivors and combed news reports and court documents to construct his compelling narrative, which he sometimes interrupts with extensive accounts of other maritime disasters (the Titanic; the Port Chicago explosion) and interludes about the history of the U. S. Merchant Marine. Most of these asides are readable and informative, but they may frustrate readers eager to get back to the page-turning story of the Badger State sailing to her doom. This book probably won't achieve the classic status of The Perfect Storm among maritime-disaster narratives, but students of seafaring will be drawn to it in solid numbers.”

Sailing into the Abyss: A True Story of Extreme Heroism on the High Seas
William R. Benedetto  More Info

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