World War Two PT-305 patrol boat goes under restoration

Image: National WW2 Museum


A World War Two patrol torpedo boat, PT-305, is being restored and renovated so that it can once again be a fully functioning, passenger-carrying vessel. The renovations have been underway since 2007, when the National World War Two Museum based in New Orleans purchased the boat.

The PT-305 was a fast-attack boat used during World War Two, between 1944 and 1945, in the Mediterranean. It was used to attack enemy warships and was armed with machine guns, cannons and torpedoes. But its most advantageous feature was that it could retreat from an attack at speeds up to 43 knots, which meant that the enemy could not launch a counter-attack.

PT-305 was originally built in New Orleans in 1943. It was one of around 200 PT boats built there.

The boat’s designers used a racing boat design as the basis for its shape, so that it could lift out of the water to increase its speed. They were also built with light wooden materials, but were strong and robust.

By the end of World War Two, many PT boats were no longer needed and were set alight. However, the one being restored by the National Museum, PT-305, was put up for sale and used by a private owner for oyster fishing in Chesapeake Bay until the turn of the century. It was then purchased by the Defenders of America Naval Museum and then passed on to the National World War Two Museum for full restoration.

To date, the restoration is approximately two-thirds complete. The restoration team continues to seek out and collect new and old spare parts for the vessel from around the world. The team has had a total of almost 200 volunteers since the work began. Some of the volunteers are veterans of World War Two and include builders, carpenters, electricians, engineers and mechanics.

The museum is aiming to make the restoration as historically accurate as possible, but some adaptations have had to be made in order to ensure it is compliant with the National Coast Guard standards, so that it can actually sail and be used again.

The plan is that the renovations will be completed towards the end of 2015 and the PT-305 will be launched into the water at Lake Pontchartrain in 2016, the reports.

The museum is then planning for the boat to do a small tour, visiting numerous ports on the Gulf Coast, so that as many people can see and explore what a real World War Two vessel looked like.

The museum expects that the entire project will end up costing just under $1.5-million. But the team of volunteer workmen has kept the costs down.

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Ian Harvey

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