Comments from Pat "Big Mac"McNally[ Big Mac had added some great insight about the living arrangements at DaNang. If you were there, flashback time!]
I never realized until now what guzzlers the PTF's are. If my calculations are correct, they drink about 6 gallons per mile. and this is at a moderate speed.
The maximum safe sustained R.P.M. we used was 1800. This produced about 37 knots.
I was reading the PTF-6 stories and saw they hit 55 knots on a mission. This means about 3,000 R.P.M.'s. They were really lucky not to loose an engine. We were really lucky too. If they lost an engine, we usually had to go save get them. In those cases I guess there were more than a few SEALS north of the border.
One habit the Vietnamese drivers had was to duck when waves washed over the bridge. This could be what happened when the boats collided in the PTF-6 story.
I can't remember the numbers, but one boat was lost because it was abandoned by it's crew after a breakdown left it dead in the water.
We got in a contest with a Vietnamese crew to determine the best driving and live fire crew.
We won the driving contest because I could steer a straighter line than their driver could.
We lost the live fire contest when one of the guys hit the water with a 40 round.
We parked the boats in the middle of the harbor and had a really good beer party.
The desire not to take a hard face full of water may have caused many positioning problems when on patrol. If they pulled between the other boats and the shore during a fire fight, they would be shot up.
When I left in June, 1968, we had a pet snake. It was cared for by an old Vietnamese man in the small building across from the paint shop. You couldn't miss this snake. It was a 16' boa about 4" around.
Once a month we fed it a chicken and watched the show. Amazing how wide that thing could open it's mouth.
Was it still alive when you were there?
[ I was CC'd on this email to George Nethercutt and Slade Gordon from Washington State. - Dan]
I am writing this letter as a result of my involvement in the Patrol Torpedo Fast web site.
We are a group of old farts that either served on the PTF Nastys or are enthusiasts of this Vietnam combat legend. Recently our founder visited one of the remaining boats in Florida. The condition of the boat was atrocious.
These boats were involved in the Tonkin Gulf incident and are a part of our history. Many of us served on these boats and we need your help. Our group needs one boat. Just one lousy boat to make our lives worth while. It breaks my heart that America is so involved in the present that the past is forgotten.
We are not asking much. Judging from the photos, this boat can't cost much. We just need help in preserving a piece of national and international history.
Please check out the Web site or mail Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org. We don't need another page of history to sink.
By the way, these boats are directly connected with Seal Team 1 and are mentioned in Stanley Karnow's book "Vietnam".
Please contact us. We need help.
I want to say that your web site has had a profound influence on my life. I thought only gators knew the boats existed. This makes me all misty eyed. At my size, that says a lot.
Thanks from the bottom of my beer. Err I mean heart.
[I asked the question," what special training or preparation did you have or get to do this job." - Dan]
I was an "E nothing puck". In the Navy Reserve during high school, I became an expert with small weapons. The Navy discovered that I could drive just about any small boat so I usually had the wheel. By the time I came along, the Navy would take anybody with a strong back, good mind, and turn them into a gator.
Don't forget that Nastys were not the only boats we used. We also operated with the Seals in Saigon.
We tried not to use the Nastys to recover Seals. What we had good luck with was a small power boat (maybe 12') that we hoisted aboard the Nasty using a homemade hydraulic lift. Since most operations were at night, The Seals were totally invisible. Even when they wanted they were invisible.
We definitely raced a hydrofoil boat in Danang harbor. Man was that boat fast! It had what looked like a 5" cannon up front and a very small crew. I only counted 6.
Another ill advised project you guys might be interested in was the Boston Whaler we outfitted with twin 20mm gattling guns. I got the luck of test firing this thing. When I fired the guns, the boat went from 30 knots to 0 immediately. It never was tested again.
The best Seal recovery boats were used for UDT training. They had twin turbo jet power plants and sounded like a passenger jet. The trainees were picked as always shown in the movies and the rubber boats were hoisted aboard the jet boats. Recovery could be done at about 20 to25 knots without injury to the trainees.
I can't tell you how many nights I spent driving P.T.F. boats all over the gulf chasing after destroyers. When you guys used choppers, we always cheated and listened to your conversations. That is why the choppers never could follow our wake or sight us.
The most fun was making the initial pass. Seeing the sailors line the rails to watch always made us proud. Mostly because we could smoke anything except the hydrofoil introduced in 1968.
The only down parts were the way the boats rode in rough seas. A lot of even the toughest gators got sick. And once we got ambushed going into Danang harbor. We had to ram the junk and killed one or two people. We captured the rest.
I was a 6'3" 255lb. Vietnamese with blond hair. So according to the C.I.A. no American crews went near the Nastys.
Now that I got that bull out of the way, U.S. Navy special ops people trained the Vietnamese Black Berets to operate the Nastys. This training was conducted by both Seals and Seal Support Team 1 (B.S.U. 1). You saw a lot of American crews if paying attention.
No cameras were allowed near the base. The sign on the pier read, "No trespassing or pictures, violators will be shot". Nobody ever tested the guards as far as I know. With the exception of National Geographic Magazine.
The original PTF boats are the one's you are presenting in your site. However in early 1968 two of the "new PTF" boats were delivered in Nam for testing and evaluation.
These are the boats that Stanley Karnow mistakenly speaks about in his book Vietnam. Reading page 365 will show you what I mean. The new PTF boats were aluminum and slightly longer. The armament was the same as was the layout of the interior.
By the way, my name is Pat McNally.
My nickname was "Big Mac". I spent 2 years with B. S. U.1 in and out of Vietnam. I spent 2 tours in Danang and know a lot about the Special Operations Group activities during 1967 and 1968. I have no idea what is still classified and what is not, so I will give you some general background info for your files.
The main base was located east of Soncha and slightly west of Spanish Beach. There was a small bay in which the P.T.F. combat base was located. This bay also housed a small South Viet river boat squadron. We had two Swift boats and 6 P.T.F,'s at this time. We lived in an old French base outside of Soncha along with a Green Beret detachment . The Seal Team and Vietnamese Seals lived several miles down the road on the other side of Soncha. Our base was really nice with each room housing 4 team members in air conditioned luxury. We had our own mess hall and bar, and booked our own U.S.O. shows. There were about 40 Seal Support Team members, 12 Seals and 12 Green Berets on the base. The Seals lived at the other base, but our place was nicer so they spent most of their free time there.
Each Nasty was equipped for extended range missions. This was accomplished by equipping them with special plastic fuel bladders to double the fuel capacity of each boat. They may of had air conditioning, but I sure didn't notice. In 1967 our piers began to list and sink. We tried to fill them with foam, but they had to be replaced in early 1968.
All real operations were conducted at night to hide our movements. Usually we used two boats per operation with a third for backup. Usually backup consisted of rescue missions when one of the other boats couldn't make it back. Most missions took two or three days.
At Coronado we used P.T.F.13 to test experimental weapons. The rocket launcher flopped do to too much pressure on the deck and hull.
Another main use of the Nasties was playing tag with fleet destroyers. We could out run them at 2100 r.p.m.'s . We could definitely out maneuver destroyers and hide from radar due to low profiles and wood construction.
This is all I feel comfortable sharing at this time. I hope it gives you a feel for our life with these magnificent fighting craft.