Comments  from Tim Sammons

[ Tim will be a great source of Great Lakes history. Stay tuned - Dan ]  
(03/04/03) Onboard PTF-17 in the "Lake Michigan Theatre of Operations", circa 1974. Just received new 40 mm BOFORS from NAD Crane IN, still in Haze Gray paint. Gun was new, unfired when we received it. GMG1 Bob Moore (SEAL) Loader, EM1 Mac McKinney in foreground. Note flag tied off to prevent Loader from getting whipped to death. Firing 40 mm AA rounds designed to detonate at 4000 yards as "flak curtain", a good training round since it did not go beyond that range (usually).  ptf17gunsa.jpg (74240 bytes)
40 mm BOFORS. Photo by ENS Tim Sammons
Well I finally got a scanner - more photos to follow (as soon as I figure out how to use it!) Sorry if this file is big - I don't know how to send a low resolution pix yet.. Anyway, it's PTF-17 in April 1975 near the Great Lakes Naval Base, -  Enjoy,Tim PTF17a.jpg (67478 bytes)
Photo by Lt Kurt Froyen, USNR, OIC PTF-19

02-16-02  (A reply to an email from Alan Sandoval)

Alan - Don't know how "helpful" I was but I learned a lot. I especially remember working to shim the Vee drives, and then the engines with beer can shims to get everything into alignment. Torquing the Vee inputs to make sure there was no binding was fun too! Of course someone had to empty the cans first! I also remember standing on the Vee drives to "feel" them while underway to sense any unwanted vibration - actually a pretty good test for final alignment.... 

Getting the engines through the softpatch was fun, especially while the boat was moving around under the crane... We had an engine overspeed at the pier one time - started running on its own lube oil from a blown turbo seal and wouldn't shut down after killing the fuel. Probably got up to 6-7000 RPM before it blew up...I still have piston fragments we found in the bilges afterwards - very impressive damage but fortunately no fire..! This was during a port visit with a whole pier full of visitors and VIP's...When they saw us all go over the side in our whites they knew something was amiss ! After that we plumbed one of the installed CO2 bottles thru a deck valve to dump CO2 into the air intake trunk to kill the engine if that happened again - never did....

I guess I don't know too much about other units but we seemed to have very tight crews and everyone knew a lot about each others jobs...Much better than being on a tin can or bigger ship! It was really great training, especially for a junior "O" type... The enginemen who trained me were Gary Heider, Ed Nelson and Dave Howe - maybe you knew them - they could fix anything...As part of our qualification process, we stood many watches at each WQS Bill station to learn the business from the ground up - that was before the Navy started the PQS training system but it was essentially the same thing..

 Good times.... Tim

02-15-02  Hi Dan - I also received the note regarding the bullnose stamping...pretty conclusive proof I would say.  I still can't imaging anyone switching the radar from a Trumpy to a Nasty...If you wanted to do that, you would install a modern radar on her ???
In any event, very glad  to hear another PTF will be preserved - wish I lived on the east coast - would love to see it..

By the way, I plan on sending you a brief history of Coastal River Division 21 for inclusion into the database...I am real busy these days and it's hard to find time but I will definitely get it done eventually...

Also wondering if anyone besides you is keeping a file on all this written history regarding the PTF's?  Possibly up at Buffalo?  I have sent them a number of things via E mail but never received a response...

Keep up the good work!  -  Tim


Thanks Dan    Good info all around.  Yes, I live in San Ramon CA, east of Oakland..

First of all, I screwed up...CDR21 was an element of CRS 2 not CRS 1 as I had earlier stated.... Duh...I don't know too much about CRS1 / BSU 1 except for some of our crew who were in VN with the BSU folks...In later years while I was in the USNR, we did a lot of training exercises with CRD 11 (later SBU 11) up at Mare Island.  They did not have a PTF then, just the riverine stuff.

I visited Buffalo about 10 years ago and got the curator to let me poke around the boat, inside and out.  It was still in the condition it was (internally that is) when we left it at Little Creek.  Still had the WQS Bill in the galley with the crews names on it..  They told me they wanted to cut holes in it for viewing and I told them that was a REALLY bad idea.  The deck gear was guns and a mickey mouse replica of the .50 on the bow was embarrassing...

17 was in really good condition when we turned her in.  I don't believe CRS2 ever ran her after she was delivered.  The guy who relieved me in Aug 75 as OinC was LT. Dick Chelrais.  He disappeared back into the regular Navy shortly thereafter so I never got any Intel about the PTF's at Little Creek afterwards...I heard they were lifted onto the pier and left there until Buffalo somehow managed to capture 17..

The engines in 17 are in good shape - The starboard engine has about 1000 hours on it and was reportedly the world record holder for number of hours before overhaul. The Port engine was changed out when we were in Duluth Mn, maybe a few hundred hours on it... both Vee Drives were in good shape as were the generators, weps and aux equipment.
Also, I have looked a lot for any reference to PTF17 service in Vietnam but came up with zero...Someday will have to hit national archives and look for some declassified stuff..
By the way, I am a collector of military radio equipment so I am particularly interested in the PTF comm gear.  I operate a bunch of Mil comm gear on the Ham Radio bands with like minded folks but that's another story...

I understand you were an ETN - do you have any recollections of the radio room gear - especially the GRC-109 radio transmitter and power supply that was bolted on the forward bulkhead?  I am doing a research article on the GRC-109 - a CIA developed / Special Forces morse code set.  They were on 17, 18 and 19 when we got them but I had them removed as part of a BOATALT.  They were apparently an emergency backup to the ARC-94 HF set on board...

The workhorse was the VRC46 VHF FM set but we also used the HF radio a lot and the ARC27 UHF AM radio when training with the USCG/Air guys...
I see General Propulsion is selling PTF 18 ($ 388K) Wow, wish I had that kind of bucks...Hate to see it eventually scrapped (I was XO of PTF 18 for awhile)

All for now -  Tim

Hi Dan - great site! How did I miss it??

I was in "cold weather training" when assigned to Coastal River Division 21 at Great Lakes. I was there from March 72-August 75.  I was XO of PTF 18 and O-in-C of PTF 17. I have a lot of photos of 17, 18 and 19 when they operated together - I will figure out how to get them scanned and send them along.

I've seen '17 at Buffalo - great to see it in a museum but it needs a lot of work. PTF 17 was in excellent condition when it was taken out of service - hope no one hacks it up!

Keep up the great work!

Tim Sammons