Pictures and comments received from Chip Marshall, Silver Spring, Maryland
[ Chip has been very active in gathering information for the PTF Nasty Website. Below in an account of emails received from him starting the summer of 1999 ]
08/14/00 [ Chip is referring to some photos sent in by Jonny Greff]
That is a nice CLEAN shot of the Tjeld class boat! Beautiful picture. The other shot, the B&W of the earlier boat, is a 80' Elco PT boat that was turned over to the Norwegians after the war. Admiral Arleigh Burke made sure (I saw the orders) that these boats were in first class condition and ready to go. So what does the US Navy do, they ship the first six boats to Norway (land of major snow and cold) without heaters for the crew spaces. The USN representative on the MAAG staff in Norway sent a rather interesting message back to the BuShips that bluntly stated the obvious. A lot of the lessons learned using the 80' Elco were incorporated into the Tjeld/Nasty boat. Think about taking this thing across the North Sea, IN THE WINTER, to the Shetland Islands for an exercise! Turns out that most of the sailors were reservists that fished the North Sea for a living or came from families of fisherman. Just one more aspect of the history behind the development of the Tjeld/Nasty class boats.
Thanks for the info.
These pictures are from the official US Navy manual for the Mark 3 Mod 4 40 mm mount used on the aluminum PT boats of the 1950s and (at least) PTF 3 and 4.
The pictures on Alan's website showing the practice firing of the 40mm indicate that the mounts used incountry are less sophisticated and probably WW2 surplus. You will notice that the trainer does not have all the cosmic stuff in Alan's pictures that is included on the Mark 3 Mod 4 mount.
I have photocopies of pictures (waiting for the prints from NHC) showing the Mark 3 Mod mount on PTF 3 during a visit to Quantico Marine Corps Base. Sounds like, for the purposes of deniability, fear of technology getting into the wrong hands and the more practical "can they use it?" that the mounts were switched over to something advanced. Probably was done at Subic Bay. The pictures of PTF3 and 4 taken in Hawaii seem to show the later mounts.
[ Reply to Jeff Fontaine: ]
In the NHC's files on the Nastys, there are letters to members of Congress and the Senate concerning the US Navy going off shore (Norway) to purchase PT boats when there are many yards in the US fully capable of building such a craft. The letters are copied with cover letters from the representative's office asking the Navy for comment (no copy of the comment is included). CNO Arleigh Burke (31 Knot Burke of WW2 fame) visited Norway and rode the prototype KNM Nasty. Pictures of him embarking, riding around on and debarking from the KNM Nasty are in file at the NHC Photographic Section. I have sent Dan two of them. There are references to the fact that the US paid for some of the research and development for the KNM Nasty prototype. The Norwegians used their experience with some WW2 80' Elco PT boats we have given them after the war and the Fairmile D "Dog" boats and developed the Nasty from that experience. I understand that the crews of the Norwegian MTBs would cross the North Sea in the WINTER to Scotland as an exercise!! The Nastys (or Tjeld class as the Norwegian called them) were built for this kind of punishment. The Tonkin Gulf must have been a cake walk for these boats!
Sorry, I got to rambling on there. Thanks for the Army info. When I get the scanner fired up again, I'll pass on some stuff I got on the 40mm mounts for the Nastys and aluminum PT boats. Chip
07/01/00 [ Checkout Chip's work under the History Section: DaNang Harbor Charts ]
I got some more pictures from the Naval Institute today. The ones attached are those of the future PTF1 and PTF2 (PT810 and PT811 respectively).
One shot is taken at the launching of PT811 at Trumpy and Sons in Annapolis. In the background, the Naval Academy chapel dome can be clearly seen. The second shot is a really nice starboard shot of PT811 just as she is coming up on step. The third (and last) shot is of PT810 and PT811 running together in echelon somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay. All these pictures came from the US Naval Institute in Annapolis. They have no problem with the shots being posted on the website as long as they get credit.
Your package came in the mail while I was in Atlanta. Thanks very much. That stuff is SOMETHING ELSE! Good details! Makes me want to run out and build myself a PTF boat!
I came across the Subic Bay site during an evening of surfing. After talking with Jim and remembering some photos I saw of the boats (including one of the Ospreys) when at PT Boats, Inc.; I decided to see what else was available. The site is run by a retired Marine that apparently spent a lot of time and continues to go back to the Philippines. I thought that doing something similar to what we are trying to put together for the base at Da Nang would complete the picture. I guess the next step would be something from Coronando, New Orleans, Little Creek and Great Lakes NTC (stateside bases for the boats). Another purpose is similar to priming a pump, put a little water in, get a little water out. I am hoping that the reaction is along the lines of "I do not remember it quite that way, it was more like this ....." along with some pictures and explanation.
Chip, will mark up the map with appox area that the boats where kept when SRF, Subic worked on hulls and electroic equipment and etc. The Blding 1457 was in an area going toward Cubi Point, wanting to say the triangler area where there are an large white building and an area that the boats could be lifted with a crane.
At SRF the boats were kept covered with a canvas shed so that they could dry out and the wrong eyes couldn't see them, a 24 hour watch was kept on them by ship yard security. The boats would shed appox 16 tons of water in a three week period,in Viet Nam ,we watched the Pinersoll line to tell when the boats was getting heavy, knocked the hell out of the speed and times that was bad for our health.
Will mail the map to you,see if you can come up with something going toward Cubi Point,will keep checking the base web site.
06/26/00 [ Chip is referring to PTF 23 ]
Yeah! If this boat ends up being in Texas, I have a number of excuses, uh, REASONS, to go there. Hopefully, the boat is not TOO far down the coast from the Houston/Galveston area.
PT309 is on display near the USS Texas in Galveston. PT8 (from 1940) is owned by someone down that way. And one of the special speedboats that was on PT809/Guardian when she was chasing the presidential yachts is supposed to be in the backyard of a fire department somewhere in the hill country (Austin, Fredericksburg, etc). AND, there is some OPLAN34a stuff in the Johnson Library at UT/Austin. I also understand that Texas Tech in Lubbock has one of the finest Viet Nam era collections in the country. Yes, Texas is well worth the diversion!
My talk with Jim was very instructive. He spent a very generous 3.5 hours with me talking about everything, including the base. As a spin off, I think a good future project would be to put a similar piece together on the repair base at Subic Bay. I have already started getting some basic information together and a number of guys went through Subic also. But this is down the road.
From my talk with Jim, the base was expanded and improved over the years. What I am going to give you will have some questions (like what the hell is this??). Kind of a poor man's interactive deal. I think once some lines are put in front of these guys with some guidelines, the information will start to flow (no, no, those lights were over THERE!). Within a period of time, this piece will evolve into an accurate accounting of the base at Da Nang.
Jim also passed on some other interesting tidbits. The story (or most of it anyway) about the loss of PTF10, an interesting contraption that was used when the engines were changed or worked on with the soft patch removed, etc.
I bought about a ten photos from the Naval Institute in Annapolis and THEY JUST ARRIVED TODAY! And the scanner is now working! Attached are the three more interesting shots I scanned. If you could hold off using them on the website until I get permission from USNI, I'd appreciate it. I will take care of that issue tomorrow.
Enjoy the shots.
I see I am going to have a time keeping up with all of the odd ball armaments that were fitted and trial fitted to the boats. I remember reading somewhere that CINCPAC (yeah, I mean the four star admiral that runs the Navy's Pacific Fleet) wanted FLAMETHROWERS mounted on the Nastys. Interesting.
I think I need to get some basic drawings up and go and see these guys
(or get pictures) so a record can be made of what the various weapons
installations looked like. I'll add it to the list.
Anyway, one of the items I am particularly interested in finding out about is the mounting of Soviet 122mm rockets on the Nastys. According to the MACVSOG book, there were two launchers to each side of the boat for a total of four. I just wondered who "sanctioned" the installation?
I think I figured out the major difference between the first series of PTFs (3-8) and the later series (9-16) built in Norway. The original boats were built and shipped with Chief's Quarters below deck just below the radar mast (see your Inboard Profile on the website). Now check that same space on the inboard profile in the MACVSOG books. Fuel Tanks, lots of fuel tanks. The boats were not lived in, so the goat locker was not really necessary. And the NAD folks were complaining about the range of the first boats. If I read the MACVSOG books right, modifications to the early boats were made at Subic Bay NRF.
When you went through that PTF in Florida, what was in the compartment directly behind the Control Room? [Dan comment: full of tanks]
Strange the things you think about around midnight.
The Osprey990 Program was stillborn for lack of funds. Originally, it was to be a test bed for the power package on the Pegasus class hydrofoils (CODAG-Combination of Diesel And Gas turbine) with the water jet propulsion. PTF24 was to be converted, but something happened or was discovered (I do not know what yet) and a change was made to convert PTF25. She was the last of the Ospreys let go by the Navy and sat at the small boat pier at Little Creek for a long time before disposal. From the list of drawings, it looks like the program got at least into the serious design phase before funds were but.
The first PT converted to gas turbine was PT812. She had two Metropolitan-Vickers gas turbines with two Packard diesels for low speed propulsion and variable pitch props. LOTS of problems from what I am reading. Eventually, one of the turbines let go and killed two Motormacs (unconfirmed right now, but that's the story I hear). She was assigned to Beach Jumper Unit Two in Norfolk until they decided to mothball her. Later, she was loaned to the Army for analysis of the propulsion system and eventually went to South Korea without the turbines. Word I get is she was broken up in 1968.
Sorry....I do tend to run on. As you can see, there has been LOTS of research.
On the Ospreys, the small boat cards I got copies of at the Ships History Division of the NHC said that at least three of the four boats made it as far as Subic Bay. I got a photo (which will be scanned and sent as soon as the scanner is back on line) showing one of the Ospreys at what I think is Subic Bay. PTF 25 replaced PTF 24 as a candidate for the Osprey 990 gas turbine program that was stillborn. The boat was to be lengthened from 95' to 108' to accommodate the engineering and water pumps.
One book you should consider strongly for purchase is Norman Friedman's US Small Combatants. There is a lot of good design history in there for both the Osprey and Nasty and some photos of the Osprey being built in Louisianna. Another good book (it does have some erroneous information) is PT Boats at War by Norman Polmar and Samuel Loring Morison. Victor Chun has a couple of good books on the earlier WW2 and aluminum post war boats if you are interested.
One thing I forgot about was coming across a scrap book of CNO Arleigh Burke's travels to Norway and his ride on the original NASTY. I made photo copies of the pictures. A real print will cost $25.50 a pop from the Naval Historical Center (no negs).
Still some interesting stuff. Interested? So much going on and time is a wastin'!
No, I have not ordered mine yet. Haven't forgotten though. You may want to check out a couple yourself: US Small Combatants by Norman Friedman and PT Boats at War by Norman Polmar and Samuel Loring Morison. US Small Combatants has a bit more detail on the design history of the Osprey and the Nasty boats, including the political crap the CNO had to go through to get the aluminum boat built. Very good book with lots of pictures and some drawings.
PT Boats at War has a lot of good pictures (some of the captions are not technically correct, but does include some good PTF pictures) and what has to be the most complete list to date of the PT/PTF boats built and their fates.
I haven't run into much of interest lately at the National Archives. I am waiting for the photos I ordered from the Naval Institute before I order the Nasty progress shots from the Archives folks. I am told they will be in this week. I plan on taking a day or two off in May to hit the Navy's Operational Archives. I think that where the gold nuggets are lying around.
See ya 'round campus,
I have not come across anything really earth shattering on the PTFs yet. I did find one little tidbit in the 1999-2000 Jane's Fighting Ships: Greece still has four of their Nastys in limited service. They have been re-engined with two MTU12V331TC92 engines. The weapons suite does not seem to havechanged. There were originally six boats. The four remaining boats are:
My health and stamina seem to gets better and better. In another week or two I should be back at work. Right now I am picking through what the Naval Institute in Annapolis has. I have an appointment this Thursday with one of the librarians at the Naval History Center to start my efforts there.
More when I get it as I get it. My best to all,
No trips from the office in Maryland for at least three months. The upside is I will have some time to pick through what the National Archives has on a variety of subjects. One interesting thing came up: The US Army had a unit; Detachment 275 (PT Boat) as part of the 11th Transportation Battalion. No dates or places yet. I think it might have been formed to work the former PT812, which was supposed to have been loaned to the army at some time in the early 60s. Something else to check out.
We have a weather front moving in that will probably mess up my planned time at the Navy's facilities downtown. My priority will be to see what is available at the Naval Photographic Center (depending on what I find, at least a half day). From there, I will check out the Operational Archives and the area where they keep the logbooks. I'm sure some of the MACSOG stuff is going to be classified, but I know some other stuff will have come off classified status as recently as this year.
I'm going to order those 60 or so Nasty PTF builders photographs I told you about (God bless credit cards). My contact at Archives just recently let me know how to do that. I also MIGHT have a lead for drawings on the Nasty and Osprey boats. I'll be checking into that.
I started my textal research at Archives in the BuShip records just after WW2. Right now I am up to 1951. In the late 50s and early 60s, the is a large gap of info (no USN PT boats), then is picks up in 1962 and goes to 1964. The Navy has the balance of the records in DC are the Navy Yard. I also came across a finding aid (list of what the National Archives has on record) for MACSOG and they list the Naval Advisory Detachment. We'll see what that brings.
Tomorrow I am going over to the US Naval Institute in Annapolis to pick through their photo collection. They have a pretty good one (300K+) and my membership will get a repro discount.
At home, I came across some photo copies of pictures I got on a previous visit to the Naval Photographic Center in DC. I'll make some copies and send them. They were given to the Navy by a Captain Mulford, the original XO on PTF-3. There is a picture of PTF3 being delivered as delivered to Philadelphia NSY and some photo (including good detail shots) of PTF-3 when she went to Quantico Marine Corps Base just south of Washington for a visit by the SecNav and Assistant SecNav Paul Fay, Jr. (a friend of JFK) in 1963.
When I get back to the Photographic Center, I'll go looking for those prints specifically. I also understand from a friend down there that Capt. Mulford recorded a "living memory" of his time with the PTFs.
I have a little over one week before I go back to work and am trying to take advantage of it as much as possible. Thank you for checking up on me, the ticker is still ticking.
10-01-01 Email from Chip Marshall:
Dr. Craven: Thank you very much for your response to an inquiry that was (I thought) a shot in the dark. Your history of the Nasty class boat is quite accurate concerning the losses. My role as an amateur historian is to collect what I can for presentation on the website. As you observed, most of it is the recollections of middle aged men remembering a time of adventure and service to their country. Most are more than willing to talk about a subject to which they were sworn to secrecy. The reason is a lack of recognition for their role in the Viet Nam conflict ("There weren't no PT boats in Vietnam!" What are you? Some kind of wannabe?"). You of all people would understand the most with your experience in "black" projects. The response to the website has been very positive. A lot of information is starting to come out of the woodwork. You would think there was no restrictions on photography with all the pictures that have been sent in. Some of the information is just now coming off classification. And the availability of photographs has been a nice range of official cheesecake (press) and trial/acceptance shots to the very unofficial shots of a service man's experience in a war zone. Would you mind if your response was included on the www.ptfnasty.com website with some excerpts from your book? Perhaps one or two crew members of that boat will remember the experience as well and pass along their recollections. Thank you again for your time and assistance. Chip Marshall Silver Spring, Maryland
Reply from John Craven:
I wish I could help. My book is based on my undocumented personal memory. I was teaching a class of Naval Engineers in a course at MIT on weapon system design. It resulted in a book on ocean engineering systems published by MIT but the at sea experience is not listed. Members of the class included Millard Firebaugh (will send you all of the names tomorrow). I had requested the boat from the local Naval district. I have no recollection as to why I thought it was the Nasty class and I have no recollection as to how I acquired the history of that class. It probably was but I write history as Herodotus wrote history from his own recollection and the recollection of others and then he wrote the story as it ought to have occurred to illustrate the lessons of history. Thus I was familiar with the history of the Nasty class torpedo boat.. I wanted my officers to experience that history. I asked for a motor torpedo boat. I got one. We went to sea and had an experience that I wanted these officers to have. Historians who believe that they can authenticate history will want to interview the participants and so they can and I could have done so but the book would never have been written or published in a timely manner. My guess is that you will get as many recollections as you have interviews - but the story must be written - there were many brave men that perished in a boat that was designed to go in harms way and was harmed. Who knows whether the design could have been improved before deployment but it can and must be improved (or eliminated) when its history is evaluated.
I am indeed satisfied with my belief that the boat we rode on that blustery winter day was a Nasty boat and that is enough for me. Craven
Chips Emails from 1999 have been moved to a separate page to reduce