Comments from Joe Burks
[ Joe was a PTF rider and worked with other prototype riverine craft. - Dan ]
Great site, Dan. I will pass it on to a couple of guys I rode PTF's with (still in touch after all these years). I rode the 13 (very briefly), 22, and 21 boats out of NAB Coronado. Also spent a year in Craft Development Division of BSU1. Lots of memories of the boats although I am not sure which are real solid any more - been 30 odd years.
The picture of the LCPL seems to be what was called a Zulu Mod - had a hopped up engine (GM 6121T - basically a turbocharged GM 6-71 that boasted #120 injectors and really screamed). Would be nice to try to find a MSSC or a STAB. I really liked the STABs - 24 ft long, two 325 hp Mercruisers into Mk III outdrives spinning 21" or cupped 19" pitch screws. Cooked along pushing (but not quite hitting) 40 or so kts.
We had some really interesting prototype riverine warfare craft in Craft Development - 52' LCSR (swimmer recon boats - had a system to pick up UDT teams in the water at 30+ kts) powered by a pair of 1200 hp Solar turbines and their smaller version, the LCSR(L), 36' and powered by two Pratt and Whitney ST6 turbines (on the order of 350 hp each) and capable of close to 40kts. Also the ARCO Seablazer, a prototype for the MSSC, and the Sewart Seacraft Piranha intended as replacement for the LSSC.
Would love to see some of the old boats up and running again. Might be spendy to get a Napier Deltic rolling though... they only lasted on the order of a thousand hours before they needed to be worked over (and SRF Subic is no longer there...)
I live in Eastern WA (ever heard of Curlew? not many folks have) and get to the coast on occasion. Again, Dan, it is a great site
Joe Burks (ex ETR2 with 9534 NEC)
Hi Dan, Yes, I did visit the ptfnasty page and liked it... One of the guys I keep in touch with is Marc Platz (ex EN3 - he may have checked in). The other is John Gometz (ex GMG3) - he lives in upstate NY and may know of the museum where the 17 boat is. I think I can find Jim Wilkinson (ex RD3) - last I heard he was in Oklahoma City working for the FAA as an instructor. I have another friend in Tonasket WA (a former EN2 I think) who rode PBR's - I will pass the site on to him.
Small craft was my overpowering interest when I was in the Navy - of the seven years I put in, I spent four of it associated with small craft. I was an ETR2 when I got out but billeted as a BM2 - coxswain of the Captains gig at NSTCP and the SubRon 15 barge (both 33 ft personnel boats). I was qualified as a coxswain on most small craft the Navy had (favorites were the LCSR(L)'s and LCM-6's). Was qualified to snipe most of the boats also - managed to overhaul the engine from the NSTCP gig totally on cumshawed parts once...
It would be nice to find a PCF - BSU-1 had the 814 for a while and I rode it a couple of times on operations to San Clemente. Mostly I remember that it bobbed like a cork in heavy seas. Not much fun...
I didn't stash any documentation but it may be that Special Boat Unit One at NAB Coronado may have some in their archives - I know that craft development had huge files of extensive data on everything that had ever been tested. I remember some specs on the boats (but I really have hurt a lot of brain cells in the intervening years).
Are you aware of the PT boat museum in Memphis TN? I got in touch with them on the internet about 6 years or so ago (not a lot online then) and got the impression that they may have had some info on the Viet Nam era boats but were not interested in pursuing it.
A trip from the east coast to the northwest would be a neat undertaking. Should be able to get somebody to do a TV special about it and get some sponsorship (read $$$). If the hull is sound - still tight and no dry rot - it should be a reasonable undertaking. The only concern would be the engines. They just didn't tend to run for long hours without a work over. Who would you get to crew it? Know any PTF sailors with skipper's papers? The 30th anniversary of the end of hostilities in Viet Nam is coming up - wonder if the Navy would sponsor part of the trip for publicity... They don't need the tax write off of a 501(c)(3) though.
With the non profit status, I would think that there should be some history foundation or tourism dollars that could be tapped to help the purchase the 17 boat (call it the Deposit Seventeen Project? - after the radio call sign of the 17 boat). The trick in getting grant funding is matching funds. Some match can can be with donated labor and services (in kind or soft match) but some usually has to be in dollars (hard match). Folks who are good at hustling grant funds can get federal, state, and private foundation funds to come together at the same point and match each other (I am not that good but I am learning...).
Oh, yeah, Kettle Falls is in the neighborhood - 50 miles away and the closest outpost of 'civilization' - at least in this country. Grand Forks BC is closer but there is a border to cross... not bad though. I will pass the web site on and if I run into any promising sources of grant funding I will pass them along too. If I can be of any help in putting grants together, let me know.