Bernard Challen Webber (May 9, 1928 – January 24, 2009) was a United States Coast Guardsman. He was a petty officer assigned to Station Chatham, Massachusetts, and part of his duties were that of coxswain of Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG 36500. Webber and his crew of three rescued the crew of the stricken T2 tanker SS Pendleton, which had broken in half during a horrific storm on February 18, 1952 off Cape Cod. Webber maneuvered the 36-foot lifeboat under Pendleton's stern with expert skill as the tanker's crew, trapped in the stern section, abandoned the wreck of their ship on a Jacobs ladder into the Coast Guard motor lifeboat.
Webber and his crew of three – Engineman Third Class Andrew Fitzgerald, Seaman Richard Livesey, and Seaman Ervin Maske – saved 32 of the 33 crewmen who were on the stern section of SS Pendleton when the ship broke in two. (The remaining members of the ship's full crew were on the bow section and died when it broke off and sank.) All four Coast Guardsmen were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for their heroic actions. Their successful rescue operation has been noted as one of the greatest in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Webber was a veteran of the Merchant Marines during World War II then later joined the Coast Guard in 1946.
At the time of the Pendleton rescue Webber was serving as a boatswain's mate first class at Station Chatham.
He rose to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer (Boatswain specialty) during a 20-year military career which included a tour during the Vietnam War as a part of Operation Market Time.
Webber was born in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Anne (Knight) and Reverend A. Bernard Webber. His earliest American ancestor was the English immigrant Thomas Webber who came to Massachusetts in 1643 as part of the Puritan migration to New England, through this line Bernard was the 10th generation of his family to be born in Massachusetts.He was married to Miriam Penttinen. Webber died on January 24, 2009.
The first-in-class Sentinel-class cutter, USCGC Bernard C. Webber was named in his honor. She was commissioned on 14 April 2012 at her home-port of Miami, Florida.
A history of the rescue of the men of Pendleton and Mercer, including Bernard Webber's heroic role in the rescue of the men of the stern of Pendleton, was presented in the 2009 book The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue, (Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman). This book was later reissued in a "young adult" edition and adapted into a 2016 feature film, The Finest Hours by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, depicting the Pendleton rescue with Chris Pine portraying Webber.
Webber's memoir was published in 2015, titled Lightships, Lighthouses, and Lifeboat Stations: A Memoir and History (ISBN 978-1627340625).
- "Bernard C. Webber, USCG, 1928-2009". Coast Guard Heroes. U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 19 January 2016. archived
- Kroll, C. Douglas (2010). A Coast Guardsman's History of the U.S. Coast Guard. Annapolis, Maryland: U. S. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-433-5.
- Lagan, Christopher (19 March 2010). "First Sentinel Class cutter named for CG hero Webber". Coast Guard Compass. Coast Guard Compass, Official CG Blog. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- Lamothe, Dan (13 July 2015). "The real-life story behind Disney's forthcoming Coast Guard rescue movie, 'The Finest Hours'". Washington Post. Washington Post Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- Tougias, Michael J.; Sherman, Casey (2009). The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue. New York City, New York: Scribner. ISBN 978-1-4165-6721-9.
- Webber, Bernard C. (2015). Lightships, Lighthouses, and Lifeboat Stations: A Memoir and History. Boca Raton, Florida: Universal Publishers. ISBN 978-1627340625.
- Webster, W. Russell. "A Tribute: Bernie Webber, CWO (Ret.)" (PDF). U.S. Coast Guard History Program. U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 19 January 2016.