PT Boat 658 Goes on Tour

Following a lengthy series of repairs, PT Boat 658 is giving tours at the marina of St. Helens for all to see. Not only has it been restored, but it has been repainted as well. It is specifically a pattern of subtle camouflage used during the Second World War known as Measure 31 Pattern 20, meant to match the exact look of PT Boat 658 during its later service years.

When the craft was first commissioned, not all who enlisted were aware that such a Navy vehicle actually existed. Many had seen them only in films, and had led to believe that they were strictly a Hollywood invention. Some of those same people would end up cruising aboard boats such as PT Boat 658, a small craft equipped with torpedoes and two cannons. Now that most of them are retired from the service, many still hang around and give tours which allow citizens to step aboard and get a look at the deck while learning more about the part such crafts played in attacking much larger ships, the reports.

Restoration was completed by an organization called “Save the PT BoatInc.,” which works to restore the motor torpedo boats to their original state so that they can commence the aforementioned information tours. In the case of PT Boat 658, the tours are being conducted at the marina of St. Helens, Oregon, for the annual maritime festival. Those who attend the tours will be able to see how the guns work, while hearing about them from actual veterans with a deep understanding of the boat’s manufacture.

Motor torpedo boats were able to become a nuisance to larger ships due to their high speeds of around seventy miles per hour. They were able to sink much larger crafts, and were often used to injure enemy supply lines. PT Boat 658, as well as most boats in its class, had three engines to help ensure this speed was possible. Its torpedoes had a range of six thousand yards, meaning that the crew could strike explosively from a distance and then move in to finish the job with their machine guns if need be.

The current tours of PT Boat 658 are just about over, but that does not mean it will never be seen again. Now that the craft is fully restored, it may not only return to Oregon in the future but may also give tours at maritime festivals elsewhere. While the current crew of PT Boat 658 does not have to worry about combat, they still have a great reverence for the service such boats have played throughout war history.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE