Restored World War Two-Era Torpedo Boat Makes Triumphant Return To New Orleans

PT boat New Guinea, 1943.
PT boat New Guinea, 1943.

A patrol torpedo boat from World War II which survived through many combat operations in Europe came home to the city where it was made, New Orleans.

The PT-305, an attack boat known for its speed and torpedo armaments, was restored by the National World War II Museum and will be kept at Lake Pontchartrain.

In the spring, visitors will get the opportunity to board the boat which was involved in 77 patrols and operations.  The vessel sank three German ships during its 14-month deployment off the coast of southern France and northern Italy.

After being driven through the streets of New Orleans, the boat was loaded on a barge for the final stage of the trip to Lake Pontchartrain where visitors will be able to board the boat and see the confined quarters the crew occupied.  PT-305 will be available for rides starting in April. They will cost $350.

The museum considers the restored boat to be a triumph.  They put a lot of resources in to make the restoration possible.

“The restoration of PT-305, like all museum restoration projects, is aimed at making history accessible to today’s audiences in as detailed and authentic a way possible,” Stephen Watson, executive vice president of the museum said.

PT-class boats were used against Japanese armored landing barges and German Flak lighters – heavily armed ships that moved men and equipment in coastal regions.

The PT-305 was sent to the Mediterranean in November 1943.

It was involved in the invasion of Elba in 1944 in which US troops assisted Free French forces in liberating the island from the Nazis.

It also helped in the Operation Dragoon invasion of southern France in August of 1944.

It sank an Italian MAS boat on April 24, 1945, which helped the Allies strengthen their grip on southern Europe.

After the war, the ship was decommissioned and used for oyster fishing in Chesapeake Bay.  In order for it to be used as a civilian vessel, the engines were replaced and the structure renovated.  The owners at that time cut 13 feet off of the boat so that it would not require a captain under Coast Guard regulations.

The boat was acquired by the Defenders of America Naval Museum in Galveston, Texas.  They contacted the National World War II Museum to see if it was possible to restore the vessel, Mail Online reported.

The museum took custody of the PT-305 in April 2007 and restored it to the condition it was in during the war.

One of the last touches on the restored boat was painting the name on the bow.  The USS Sudden Jerk received its name after a hard landing at a dock in 1944.

Ian Harvey

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