February 1952. Bernie Webber is a boatswain/Petty Officer at a Coast Guard station on the coast of Massachusetts. A massive storm is in progress out to sea, damaging two tankers to the point that they appear likely to sink. On one tanker, the Pendleton, the chief engineer, Ray Sybert, is using all his ingenuity, resourcefulness and experience to keep the ship afloat and buy time until help arrives. Unfortunately for him and his crew, the Coast Guard have sent their best crew and rescue boat to the other stricken tanker. When the Coast Guard discover the Pendleton's situation, Webber and a 3-man crew are sent to help. The odds are stacked against Webber - just leaving the harbour in those seas will require large amounts of skill, courage and luck. Then they have to find the Pendleton, without a compass, rescue the crew and somehow make it home safe.