On the night of Jan. 29, 1945, the United States Coast Guard suffered its worst tragedy when the USS Serpens, a cargo ship crewed primarily by Coast Guard members, exploded off the coast of Guadalcanal, in the British Solomon Islands, carrying ammunition and other cargo bound for U.S. bases in the Pacific. While the crew was loading depth charges into the holds, a massive explosion suddenly occurred. More than 250 men lost their lives: nearly 200 Coast Guard members, 57 members of an Army stevedore unit and a U.S. Public Health Service surgeon. Only two of those aboard survived. The cause of the explosion was never definitively determined.