Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PT Boats at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, 1942

These are photos of "patrol torpedo" boats (more commonly called "PT" boats) on board the "Liberty"-type cargo ship SS Joseph Stanton at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, August 1942. Specifically shown in the pictures are PT-107, -108, and -109 (not shown is PT-110). All four vessels had just finished shakedown cruises and were on board Joseph Stanton to be transported to Panama and then to the Pacific Theater. All four vessels participated in the Guadalcanal Campaign. PT-109 is easily the most famous of the group. Her commanding officer was Lieutenant (junior grade) John F. Kennedy and the patrol boat was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. The crew's survival is one of the great epic stories of the war.

PT boats were the U.S. Navy's solution to fill a critical need for small patrol craft. Armed with two to four torpedoes and several light guns, the vessels served a variety of roles during the war, including as picket patrol vessels, for search and rescue missions, and for raiding. Like torpedo boats of the Steel Navy time period, these vessels required a certain amount of steel nerves to take into combat as the crews often pitted themselves against targets much bigger than themselves. Depending on the contractor, the PT boats came in several different versions. The three boats pictured are labeled "Elco," as they were built by the Elco Naval Division of the Electric Boat Company.

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