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).
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,
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
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
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"
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..
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..
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
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
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
hosed...no guns and a mickey mouse replica of the .50 on the bow was
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
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
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
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
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!
CAPT USNR (ret)