Never to Return

NEVER TO RETURN has been selected as one of the top five books for the Commandant’s (of the US Coast Guard) reading list for 2018!

Out now!

Never to Return is the harrowing tale of the torpedoing and sinking of a Coast Guard ship and the loss of 171 Coast Guardsmen off the coast of Iceland during WWII. The USS Leopold was a U.S. Coast Guard destroyer escort in a convoy of merchant ships carrying war materiel to England, on the lookout for the deadly U-boat wolf packs lurking in the North Atlantic. The Leopold was largely unarmored, lightly armed, and no match for the U-255’s torpedoes. In Never to Return we find the story of gunner Sparky Nersasian and his shipmates’ struggles to survive the Leopold’s sinking.



“Colonel Nersasian and Randall Peffer thoroughly researched the history of USS Leopold along with the personal stories from her Coast Guard crewmembers and their families. With their book, Never to Return, the authors have added great depth to the historical narrative of U.S. Coast Guard-manned destroyer escorts in the Battle of the Atlantic and spotlighted the stories of honor, respect and devotion to duty of these coast guardsmen during World War II.” –A. Neptun, RADM, USCG (Retired)

“In Never to Return, Randall Peffer and Col. Robert Nersasian meticulously document the heart-breaking true-life story of the United States Coast Guard’s worst war-time maritime disaster. In finely wrought detail they render the sinking of the USS Leopold from both the United States and German points-of-view in gripping and dramatic detail. This book belongs on the shelves of every maritime historian and enthusiast.” –Peter Stekel, author  Beneath Haunted Waters


Randall Peffer is the author of nine nonfiction books as well as nine crime/suspense novels. His memoir, Watermen won the Baltimore Sun’s Critic’s Choice award and was Maryland Book of the Year. His novel Provincetown Follies, Bangkok Blues was a finalist for the Lambda Award. Penguin Random House (Berkley) published his The Hunt for the Last U-boat in 2016.

Col. Robert Nersasian is a practicing Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. He is a retired Associate Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Tufts University. He is also a retired U S Army Colonel, having served on active duty during the Vietnam and Desert Storm conflicts.


Randall Peffer is the author of eight nonfiction books, most with a nautical angle, as well as nine crime/suspense novels. His first book, Watermen, is a documentary of the lives of the Chesapeake’s fishermen. It won the Baltimore Sun’s Critic’s Choice Award and was Maryland Book of the Year. His novel Provincetown Follies, Bangkok Blues was a Lambda Award finalist and has been optioned for film by producer Barr Potter of Tripod Entertainment. The son of a career naval officer, Peffer holds a 100-ton masters license and has logged over one hundred thousand miles at sea, mostly in traditional working vessels.