Pictures and Comments from Alan Sandoval

[ Here are some great PTF stories. Checkout Alan's growing collection of photographs at .  These may be referred to within his various Emails included below. ]

NEW (10/23/02) Hi Dan,  I've described the recreational facilities we had for our private use, the lagoon at Spanish Beach, the sailboat, the ski boats. (I'll bet I spent as much time keeping the outboard engines operational as I spent working on the Nasty's!) 

Anyway, on the weekends we took full advantage of the beach and the boats. I spent lots of time water skiing and became pretty good at it. That led to an unusual assignment. We sometimes had high ranking Vietnamese officers at our base for one reason or another. One weekend I was taken aside and told that I would be teaching a Vietnamese General how to water ski. That prospect was akin to being told I'd been selected to undergo experimental root-canal procedures! I wasn't looking forward to it. All the ways this could go wrong were running through my head. What happens if he gets hurt? What happens if I drown him? If he is successful will I get the credit? I saw no upside in this effort. 

Anyway, I went to the beach as ordered and hoped he wouldn't show up. Sure enough, the procession of black Mercedes arrived on schedule, one with flags on the front fenders. I knew I was doomed. 

I was introduced to the man and he seemed friendly enough, pretty intimidating for me though. We had a session on the beach where I described what would happen and what he needed to do. It all seemed to go pretty well. Then into the water for the real thing. That's what it's like with water skiing, there is no place in between to practice, you have to go for it. 

I got him set up with feet in the ski's, I swam him out a little ways from the beach, hoping to god he wouldn't decide to drown on me, and got ready for the boat to come by to pick him up. ( I remember no one took this kind of effort with me, I had to get out there on my own and sink or swim!) 

The boat came by and dropped the rope, I got him set up and with a taught tow line and I told the boat to "go". Sure enough, he did the usual beginner face plant in the water. No problem, I assured him that was normal. Another try, same result. He was still game. Third try he actually got up! At least the ski's got up! Everyone watching this scene was entertained by a Vietnamese General doing circles behind our ski boat with his butt dragging in the water! He refused to stand up on the ski's! 

Every time he came within sight of me I would wildly throw my arms up in a motion intended to make him do the simple maneuver of standing up on already stable ski's. He never did, he just circled the lagoon for lap after lap, butt hitting the water all the time, and I began to contemplate what it was like inside a Vietnamese prison. 

Eventually he tired and dropped near the beach. I retrieved him, got him to the beach safely, and he was all smiles and chatted excitedly with his underlings. I'd been saved! He'd loved it and thanked me profusely. I wouldn't be seeing the inside of a Vietnamese prison for killing one of their Generals! 

You all think I make this stuff up. If only I had that kind of imagination, I'd be writing best sellers now. All true.  - Alan

 03/18/02 Dan - I don't know why I still have these. A nearly full box of matches I bought at the Exchange in Coronado. I think I paid about 30cents for the whole box. This one is worked but all the others are pristine. 32 years old and they still light! Military procurement at it's best! Alan  match1.jpg (23718 bytes) match2.jpg (17945 bytes)


I think I never told you about this one.  We were breaking in a new skipper in San Diego one day.  Now, everyone on the boat knew that the helm had a lock nut on it that tended to loosen up when the boat was going fast in choppy water.  Anyone at the helm would just keep an eye on it and hand tighten it when it loosened.  Well, someone "forgot" to tell the new skipper about this.
We were happily pounding along and sure enough, the wheel came off in his hands.  He panicked!  "What do I do?" he shouted!  The guy standing beside him calmly suggested he put the wheel back in place.  We thought this was hilarious, but I don't think the Ensign did.


The Road Trip to San Diego:

I needed to get out of the house for a while so I took a drive to San Diego. I drove all the way to Imperial Beach and drove up the strand to Coronado. I got a deli sandwich and had a nice lunch at a park across from the Phib Base. Not much going on there. 

I then drove downtown to go past the airport, that road leads past the Naval Training Center. When you cross the bridge over to Point Loma you go right past the barracks I was in at NTC. Wow! Was I in for a shock! The barracks area had been obviously abandoned for years. Windows boarded up, weeds running rampant, a mess. Then when I went a little further I saw the reality of the situation. This entire vast base had been abandoned. It was kind of a shock. I hadn't been there for a while, I knew of base closures but I didn't expect it to be like this. As I went on I saw the entire base was being dismantled. There were wrecking crews everywhere. 

When I was there it was so military, so clean, and so organized. What I saw was a demolition site. You know I didn't love the Navy that much, just the reality of a fairly intelligent person being directed by lifers. 

But this was a little too much. I didn't have a great time in boot camp, who did? But it is part of my memory and to see the whole thing being demolished was more than I was prepared to see. There was only one area of the base that was still functioning. The golf course. It looked fully maintained and manned. We wouldn't want all those retired officers living on Point Loma to have to pay for golf, would we? 

I REALLY didn't like the Navy but I'm proud of my service. I guess I went there today to affirm my commitment to my country. I could have gone to Big Bear, Arrowhead, or maybe up to Malibu. I expected to find a little of my past still as it was and I found bulldozers tearing down buildings. 

Not my best day, but it did get me out of the house, Alan


from a thread discussing ptf documentation:

Yikes! I didn't read these in any detail. But I can see what you are going through. Too bad I didn't just empty the file cabinets in the engineering trailer while I was there. At least one three drawer cabinet, maybe two or three. No one ever looked in them aside from me. All the stuff was there. I mean, that was my job. I sat in that trailer day after day with pretty much nothing to do. I had to do something to look busy so sometimes I went through the files. 

I don't remember any of it in detail but I do remember pulling files of interesting stuff and spreading it out out on the desk just to see what was there. 

As I remember, my daily duties were to report on the status of all boats, fuel level, operational status, etc. I also had to make out the daily report for the fuel level in the fuel dump. Pretty boring most of the time. 

Did I tell you about when the oilers came by to replenish our diesel stock? I clearly remember one miserable day when the oiler couldn't make much pressure in the transfer. We hooked up lines from the dock and they pumped it uphill to those ridiculous fuel bladders. (I always wondered, if the VC were so smart, why they didn't just put someone up on Monkey Mountain with a tracer round and light them off?) 

I think they were registering about 2 psi in the transfer. I spent the entire day and most of the evening watching the bladders and shifting from a full one to a "less full one" when the time came. Far worse than watching paint dry. How did I know when one bladder was full? There was a measuring stick beside it marked off in gallons. I had to sight along the stick, level it to the top of the bladder, and guess how much diesel was in it. 

Imagine a waterbed about 50x10 feet. That's what the PTF's had for fuel source. There were underground tanks too, but if I remember clearly, I think we didn't trust them because of possible contamination. Napiers didn't appreciate contaminated fuel. 

The whole thing would have been comical if it didn't have such tragic undertones. Not to say we didn't have our fun from time to time.  Alan

  Thursday, May 31, 2001 12:33 AM 

Re: ptf deck logs 

 Dan:  There is a possibility that the PTFs never had deck logs. PTFs, in the books of the US Navy, were placed in service (and eventually considered floating equipment - kinda like a floating air compressor or, in this case, a floating gun platform that could move around). The unit the PTFs were attached to (like BSU-1) were commissioned, had a commissioning pennant, etc. The situation is very similar to a fighter squadron. The planes are placed in service and referred to by tail numbers. The fighter squadron itself is a commissioned unit. There would not be a deck log in the normal way, but there could possibly be a maintenance history of the boats that BuShips or NAVSEA would want to have for their various reasons and purposes. The missing part would be the changes in command, the daily location reports, and all the other interesting stuff that makes it a ship/boat with a crew moving around the world's oceans.  

 The requirement for deck logs on the World War Two PT boats were probably started before the war. The Navy, not knowing what else to do and, as always, steeped in the traditions of the past, required the individual boats to have deck logs. I have not found them yet, but I am sure the squadrons had to keep deck logs also. Now the question of PTFs is interesting because, at one time, they were leased to the South Vietnamese Navy. That's not BS. I have seen the lease papers for one of the boats at the Ship's History Section of the Naval Historical Center. And their whole reason for being was part of a very black project anyway. And we know how paper tends to end up in the wrong hands at the wrong times. So, with all of that being said, the place to look for deck logs would be under BSU-1 and any other commissioned unit that had PTFs assigned.  

You might want to contact some of your officer type ex-PTFers and ask what they had to do concerning things like deck logs. There is a possibility that I am totally wrong too. In that case, there is more to the story.  What is interesting is the fact that PT and PTFs are constantly referred to with the U.S.S. moniker in front. WHICH IS TOTALLY FALSE AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN. The only ships that get the USS label are commissioned warships of the line. I believe the smallest of those right now are the PCs in the Special Boat Squadrons. The hydrofoils that used to work out of Key West were also commissioned.  

One of the deck logs I recently reviewed was that of PT620 from the end of World War Two to the time she was turned over to the South Koreans. I picked that boat because she was fitted with two remote control gun turrets from B-29 bombers as an experiment. I came across pictures I had scanned at PT boats, Inc. and noticed (for the first time) the weird looking gun mounts. Anyway, the deck logs shows very little for weeks at a time. The basic entry usually reads: "0000 Starboard side tied up to Pier 10, Norfolk Navy Base 0800 Crew mustered, all present or accounted for 0830 Colors." Plus the comment "No additional remarks." The officer or quartermaster did not add things like weather (usually referred to the weather in the logs for the base) or any of the other additional information asked for by the daily log. I suspect that a lot of work went into maintaining the boats. Having a small crew and no deck division, everyone had to lend a hand with any major task.  

To wrap this up, the deck logs are on my "Do you have it?" list when I get to the Naval Historical Center next time. The trick is finding out which unit kept the log.  Chip

06-01-01   Alans Reply to the decklog question:

There was a log book in the watch tower. I don't remember any missions going out while I was on watch. All I really remember was that BAR and the Stag magazine someone kindly left there for the enjoyment of all. About the only official act I remember was that we were required to call Camp Fay at the start of the watch to make sure the phone was working. The tower was the only post that was required to be manned at night. I also remember walking the docks and grounds at night. I don't remember if that was part of the tower watch or if it was strictly a "roving patrol" type of watch. The Vietnamese took care of gate duties at all times. 

It seems to me that the missions weren't very frequent. By their very nature I'll bet casual logs of the missions weren't kept. I suspect all records of the missions were kept in that filing cabinet in the office that had the phosphor grenade on top of it. I clearly remember we were strongly ordered to set off the grenade if the base were ever over run. It was exactly the same shape as the filing cabinet top and was designed to generate so much heat that it destroyed anything under it. 

The boats did operate frequently but it was mostly training cruises. The worst of those were known as "DD ops." Two or three boats would go out and make runs at a Destroyer. If we could get within two miles of the Destroyer without being detected we scored, if they saw us on radar farther than two miles away (at night of course) they scored. Seemed pretty stupid to me. Of course they would see us on the radar! How could they not? I hated those. Cut into my sleeping time! I think we would leave about 2200 and get back in about 0200 or 0300. Alan

 At 08:52 AM 5/31/01 -0700, you wrote: Alan,  Read through the note from Chip. I was trying to get him to scrounge out some decklogs for the PTFs in 1964-65, or actually any available. You must have stood some watches that required logging in and out boat activities. Do you remember any "decklogs" or maintenance logs that we might scrounge for that would give more specific history of the activities (comings and goings) of the PTFs from DaNang. When you read the other history sites you only see 3-4 major skirmishes that the PTFs got into. I remember them going in and out all of the time. So there must have been some mundane trips to nowhere. Any ideas?  Dan  


 Hi Dan,  Our wonderful memories of these incredible boats would be lost aside from what we have in our minds. The prospect of having an original Nasty Class PTF back in our hands is overwhelming. Now you've got me thinking. Yep. The boats are priceless. Wonderful machines. Great fun at speed. (Don't worry about red-line. There is no valve train. They usually failed when you started them. You know, the piston out the side of the block thing.) It would be great to get one good run with the Deltics. Full speed, blazing over the water. I only experienced it once, even though I spent almost 1 1/2 years on PTF's. There is NO WAY we can afford to run those engines. Each held 55 gallons of specially formulated Shell lubricating oil. They sucked thousands of gallons of fuel. I think there was even something special about the coolant. Don't remember exactly. I know we changed it often enough. Oh yes, we had to use distilled water. This ain't your Chevy 427. In order to have a running boat you need generators in working order, compressors able to get the air start system up to speed, functional accessories everywhere. Even the hated hand oiling system would have to be working. Then the trolls have to build up pressure in the fuel system by hand before you can hit the air start valve. This took lots of pumping on those funny levers in front of the control room window below the steel deck. Don't know if you saw them when you toured the intact boat. That was the drill as I remember it. You first went in and started the compressors. It took about half an hour to get enough pressure in the system to roll the engines. Then if you were actually getting under way you had to fire the generators. The engines didn't need any electrical support, all their systems were mechanical or hydraulic. There were instruments that needed electrical support. If you had three guys to make all this happen it was cool. Sometimes you didn't have three guys. There were times when I was the only guy available to light off both engines on a boat. I got two compressors running (one for each engine, I think), got the generator running, then I got down to the details of the Deltics. Each had to have an oil system refresh if it hadn't been run within a certain number of hours. Well of course, it hasn't. Isn't it amazing? This tiny boat needed sooooo much support and resources to keep running. I think the LST I was on could get under way in about half the time of a PTF. I love them dearly, but have no illusions. PTF's are demanding boats. Especially if you want to have the original powerplants. Have you gotten any other feedback on the details of actually operating a PTF like mine? I'd hate to consider myself the authority on this issue! Sure, I ran the engines, I did lots of things with the boats over a year and a half, but I was an EN-2. I was no final authority on them. I remember we had a couple Chiefs who knew the boats well and basicly told me what to do. It would be good to find them. The boats really were all about the engines and the "drive train". Props, shafts, bearings, etc. It always seemed to be an engineering issue whether or not a particular boat was ready for a mission. Mostly, they were ready to go. The engineering staff worked hard when called upon and, as I remember them, our Chiefs were pretty good. One was kind of a jerk and we dutifully sank his personal jeep in DaNang harbor. He was "out of town" at the time, probably visiting his favorite hooker in Olongapo. Alan


Just watching the History Channel. They're showing some show on guns. They just mentioned the BAR. Browning Automatic Rifle. It weighed about 20 pounds. I know, we had one in the guard tower at the PTF base.

I remember that tower well. It sucked being there. First of all, you were always there late at night or early in the morning. Times you'd much rather be sleeping. And boring! Nothing to do there, nothing to see, nothing to watch. No action whatsoever. I suppose that was good! It was always unnerving to know that if the base was attacked the tower would be the first target.

The tower was bare wood all around. Cheap plywood. The floor, the walls, the desk, the overhead, all of it, cheap plywood. When you went up the ladder you entered through a hole in the floor. It was about 24" square. Not a splash of paint on any of it. Just aging plywood. I think there were hinged shutters (the same kind of plywood the tower was made of) that you could put up against the openings in case of heavy rain. The tower was open on all four sides and when it started to pour you were really exposed to the elements.

There was a small lamp, a desk built into the wall, a stool, your log book, a phone to Camp Fay that sometimes worked, and the BAR. I think there was a radio there too. I can't recall. It's possible the phone was the radio, or vice versa. (Not my field.) I had a portable radio I
took up there. Still have it. A Sony multi band that gets the weird bands the Vatican and all those strange communication services broadcast on.

Never shot the BAR. It was tempting. It's reputation was of heavy firepower. I think it was 50 caliber. I know from the weight it should have kicked ass! Not the kind of thing you toss onto your shoulder and hike 20 miles.

Imagine, I'm 21 years old, a kid, and here I am stuck in this place where all these extremely weird things are going on, and I'm actually involved with some of them! There was a file cabinet in the main office that had a phosphor grenade on top of it. We were told that if the base was overrun our first responsibility was to set off the phosphor grenade. It didn't blow up, it burned at several thousand degrees and destroyed anything beneath it. It was perfectly shaped to the top of the file cabinet. Always wanted to pull the trigger on that one just to see what would happen!

Know what? For all the things that really sucked about being in the Navy and being in Vietnam, there were "nearly" an equal number of things that were actually pretty cool. No matter how much I hated being in Vietnam, hated being in the Navy, hated the way I was treated by marginal superiors, some things were fascinating.

The technology we had at hand was unsurpassed. Not unusual for the military. The situations we were put into were "unusual", at least if you were assigned to Camp Fay. It had a lot more "esprit de corp" than the usual service. And something I didn't think about until recently. At no time when I was "in country" with BSU-1 did I ever undergo an "inspection". I spent one year at Camp Fay in two tours and not even once did an officer or any other person come into my quarters without my invitation.

I guess that was the best thing about being assigned to Camp Fay. There was no crap. Enlisted and officers shared the same club and the same mess. We had separate quarters and the Officers quarters were a little better than the enlisted quarters, but not that much better. They did have a "lobby" (a small entrance), while we just had a couple of buildings with shared (2 to a room) quarters.

We gave reasonable respect to the officers because they deserved it. They gave reasonable respect back to us. It really was pretty cool. Not to say we didn't know our places. There were, of course, divisions between the officers and the enlisted. But it didn't come out in the usual Navy ways. We were a small force and we all knew how important individual members were to the team. It brought all of us together.

Imagine, a unit of about 50 people, all services except Coast Guard represented, and we had a full Navy Captain as our CO. A Navy Captain usually has at least 5,000 people under his command.

Were we lucky or what? I don't know, just gives me some good stories to tell my nephews.

Forgive my ramblings. Keep up the good work.


I'm afraid it isn't going to get any better than this.  Remember, anything higher than 72 dpi is just wasting bandwidth because the monitors won't display at any higher res.  

If someone wants something to print I can make higher res images but the file sizes are huge.

Camp Fay - high resolution

    [ When asked about the DaNang by Chip Marshall, Alan's reply was: ]

If I remember correctly the shore area was formed like a ramp, about 30 degrees running into the water. The "ramp" was covered with small rocks, about 3-5" in diameter. That's just how I remember it. It's been 30 years!

The piers were headed by concrete "causeway" style endings about 4' off the water at normal tides.

There was one of these "causeways" that had no pier attached to it when I was there. It would have been in front of item #07 on your map.

The gunners mates used this site to dispose of outdated/damaged ordnance. This let to an interesting incident I witnessed. The Vietnamese did a lot of "fishing" with concussion grenades. One day I was watching a guy "fishing" when he tossed a grenade off this causeway. It set off the collected ordnance in the water and there was a huge explosion. Water shot about 50' in the air and the causeway partially collapsed.

The guy didn't get hurt so we all found it highly amusing!

Hi Dan, 
I've updated the PTF and Deltic pages. Just cleaned them up and added a few items.
[ View his work from the Deltic Manual page on this website ]

There is also the page from the time I had on the  (USS) Park County. I don't know if I sent it too you before. 


I promised this to you a while ago................

Diesel engines don't need ignition to cause an explosion in the combustion chamber. They fire when the fuel/air combination reaches high pressure, thereby causing enough heat to explode the mixture. This can lead to "interesting" behavior. Normally you control the power and speed of a diesel engine by controlling the amount of fuel it has available for combustion. In some instances you can lose control of the amount of "fuel" that is available in the combustion chamber.

It could be that you lose control of the fuel rack, or combustible material (oil for example) might find it's way into the intake system. In some instances oil from the lubricating system can find it's way into the combustion chamber.

I was a witness to that phenomenon.

This will cast a little disparagement onto our Vietnamese counterparts, but this is the only explanation I have for what happened.

We had installed a new engine in one of the boats. When you do that, the engine is "dry" meaning it has no oil in it's very complicated lubricating system. You cannot start a Deltic in that condition. It's lubrication demands are great and you would quickly destroy the engine.

In order to lubricate the engine you had to hand pump oil through the engine. That meant pumping a hand pump for about 1/2 hour before starting the engine. VERY tedious.

We had turned that portion of the work over to our counterparts and we left for the day. When we returned the next day they told us the engine couldn't be started. We tried and they were right. Many tries and no luck.

There were lots of things that could go wrong when starting a Deltic. You had to build up pressure in the Air Start system, hand pump fuel pressure to a specified level and then jump to the start valve and hope everything works.

No matter what we tried we couldn't get this engine to start. Now just pulling it and replacing it with another engine wasn't an option. Days of work and lots of money to send the engine back to Subic for an overhaul.

There was another option. On a PTF the engine could be "dragged in". In that process you take the boat out, get it going pretty well on one engine and then put the offending engine in gear. This causes the propeller to turn the engine over, and hopefully, start.

That's what we did with that one.

And guess what? It worked! Unfortunately, upon later analysis, we determined that all the piston rings had been broken by the engine having been started without having been thoroughly "oiled".

The engine began sucking oil around it's pistons and into the combustion chamber. Uncontrolled combustion. 55 gallons of oil available to the engine and no way to turn it off.

It probably would have been good to leave it in gear and just ride it out. Not to second-guess the skipper, but he took it out of gear. Now you had a 3,100 hp, turbocharged engine quickly eating up 55 gallons of oil, with no drag on the engine.

Engine speed just kept increasing. The Deltic is designed to run at around 2,200 rpm. This one was going to top out, I knew not where. I'd had experiences with "normal" Deltics throwing pistons through the side of the block and I had no desire to find out what this one would do. I feared the worst. I really wouldn't have been surprised if it had exploded.

I quickly exited the control room and took station on the bow of the boat! I advised those on the bridge (very close to the engines) to join me.

We were dead in the water, blue smoke was shooting hundreds of feet out the exhaust on the transom, and I was waiting for the "big meltdown".

Eventually the engine ran out of oil and shut down.

Interesting experience!

When we got back into the engine room we noticed that the turbocharger had gotten so hot that it (though a heavy asbestos blanket) had blistered the paint on the engine room hull.

There goes another Deltic!

Too bad those weren't "Plug and Play" compatible! We all hated changing those engines.

I remember one year we had an engine change near Christmas. We were in the middle of it the day before Christmas eve. We asked the chief engineer if he was going to make us work on Christmas eve. He said no! "But you will be here on Christmas day finishing up the installation."

He was true to his word.


Just remembered, the band was "Blue Science".

I had all the latest albums, I loved rock, they did it all. Hendrix just as if he were standing on the stage, Beatles, Jefferson Airplane. The bands in the Philippines could recreate any sound, and did!

The GMs, I really don't remember the GM's that well. When was he there? All I remember is going in to their space, getting an M-16 and a 38 the days I got there and then going to beg for ammo for recreational shooting at our range later.

Do you have any plan for what we would do with a boat if we get one? Are there Non-profit (tax deductible) foundations that might be interested in accepting and maintaining a boat if we could arrange a donation? Would we just "get one for us"? (I've been around boats all my life. Even without Deltics it ain't cheap to maintain a boat.) No response yet from my connection to Sen. Kerry. I think, at best, any government help might take the form of a rider to a bill that would provide special tax exemptions to the present owner for the donation of a boat. 

Here's the detail of my time with BSU-1

Report to Coronado: Sept 9, 69
Report to Danang: Dec 20, 69
Back to Coronado: 5 June, 70
Report to Danang: 17 Sept, 70
Back to Coronado: Feb 1, 71

The only person from BSU-1 I clearly remember, and kept in touch with, is Larry Johnson. I think he was a yeoman. He lives in the bay area, Saratoga last I knew. We kept in pretty close contact for about 10 years. Used to go skiing together. Last I knew he worked for Kent Landsburg Paper Products. I'll bet he's still there, he got paid lots! Another I remember is a Lieutenant Freeman. I think it was James. VERY nice guy. Really liked him. He was from somewhere in the south. Virginia, I think.

I really liked the recreational opportunities we had in Danang. Has anyone detailed the lifestyle there? Every Friday or Saturday night we had a show in the "Club". I guess it was officially an "Officers" club but there were only about 50 regulars assigned to Camp Fay at any one time, so there was no problem with enlisted taking full advantage of the club.

Sometimes we had shows both Friday and Saturday. It seemed like we had an unlimited budget to hire entertainment. Always musical acts with dancers (pretending to be singers). Japanese, Korean but our favorites were the Australians! Round Eye women! Most of the acts were not that great. (Why do they all have to play "We've got to get out of this place"?)

Of course, after the music in Olongapo, nothing even could compare. My favorite club was "D'Wave". The band there kicked rock ass!

The "mess hall" was more like a restaurant. At breakfast we'd just order anything we liked. Lunch and dinner had a more limited menu, but still with choices.

Every Sunday there was a bar-b-que. Steaks or hamburgers, a large grill was fired up outside and you'd pick your own and cook it. Then inside they brought the vegetables, salads, whatever. I remember huge piles of French Fries. All the services were provided by Vietnamese employees. Cooking, cleaning, everything. We didn't really have to lift a finger.

The enlisted "barracks" were semi-private rooms. [Dan's comments: See Alan's photo site at the top of this page.] Two to a room unless there weren't enough people to go around and then you might have a private room. Window air conditioner and a full size refrigerator with a lock on it. Each room had a maid. We gave them a couple of bucks a week and it was important to provide them with laundry soap so they could wash your clothes.

Of course, movies every night, as is standard Navy practice. I clearly remember the night they showed M.a.s.h. The Navy and marine types loved it, while the Army types grumbled and made rude remarks (remember, we had all services at that base).

The first time I arrived there were three "recreation" boats. Two water-ski boats and a sailboat. Cool! I hadn't done much skiing but I learned quickly. And I was the only person on the base who knew how to sail! The sailboat was a "Lightning". A wooden sailboat about 17' long. I hadn't yet used it when we got a message from the army that it had to be returned to their rec services. Bummer! I was assigned to tow it back to the army dock. When I got it there I tied it up and was about to leave and they stopped me. Wait, you have to take your new boat!

They tied up a brand new O'Day Rhodes 19! This is too cool! Immediately before the Navy I'd worked at a boat rental. We had Rhodes 19's, they were my favorite sailboat! I remember how I felt while I towed the boat back to our base. The army had just given me a gift of what was basically my own private sailboat! I used it a lot. It was so bizarre to sail around in the harbor in Danang, in the middle of a war zone, in my own "civilian type" sailboat! I got tired of sailing alone so I offered sailing lessons to anyone who wanted to learn. Big mistake. A couple of officers took me up on the offer and I willingly taught them (I'd taught sailing at the boat rental). After that they kept the sails in their quarters and I had to "ask" them if I could use "my" boat!

Has anyone described our "private beach"? It was just that. Very cool. Let me know if you "need to know". I guess there were lots of cool things available to you if you were assigned to Camp Fay. I kind of appreciated them at the time, but it was still in Viet Nam. All I wanted was to be back in Southern California.

Oh yes, don't let me forget about the time I was water skiing and almost got blown out of the water by a mortar!

More later,

As a person experienced with the Deltics, I just can't imagine that any civilian could maintain the boats with those engines. Do you suppose Bill Gates was in BSU-1? Perhaps there is some kind of government program that could help us.

The Nasty's without the Deltics would be like a Kentucky Derby entrant running on three legs. Nevertheless, we have to do whatever we can do to preserve anything available to us. The hulls and the equipment on board are the most important things. Those will be most difficult to replace in the future. The engines, well, Deltics are used in lots of places and if we can ever get the money together it can happen.

We must concentrate on getting a boat with as much original equipment as possible. If we can get one with original engines that's great, but the engines, while being the "heart" of the boat are probably the most easily found replacement part. I am so into this!

If I can get a stupid windsurfing issue affecting fewer than two hundred people onto CNN (which I did) I can get action into preserving a wonderful weapon of war that lots of veterans support. (Don't take that to mean I support war or aggressive actions in any way. I do not.)

You have all the contacts with those who control the remaining boats. Let them know that there are actions happening to preserve those boats. Make sure that they understand that the boats must be preserved in "as is" condition. No modifications, no painting, no pulling parts off. And they must not allow the boats to fall into disrepair. Boats in the water should be pulled out. It's OK to let a hull dry if it's taken back to the water in a reasonable way. The Nasty was built of Honduran Mahogany. It is an incredibly durable wood. It is our responsibility to make sure this wonderful machine lives again.

One of the most common problems with the PTF's was propeller problems. Imagine, these boats operated at high speeds and had lots of torque and horsepower behind those propellers. Any piece of debris or whatever that came into contact with the propeller caused damage. Any damage to a propeller put that item into a state of imbalance. Imagine yourself on an airplane that had two engines and one of those powered a propeller that was out of balance. Well, that's what it's like on a PTF that has a propeller out of balance. Not much speed, not much fun.

We frequently found ourselves in the position of having to change the propellers on any particular boat. Sounds easy. It wasn't. The boat had to be "floated" up onto our dry dock. Then the propeller had to be secured because if it came loose unexpectedly it could kill someone. (It was about 5' diameter). The securing nut was removed, (usually without much trouble) and then, in theory, you just grabbed the propeller and pulled it off.

Well, those damn propellers kind of got comfortable where the were. We all knew that just the right touch would break it loose. Pulling, pushing, urging, we tried everything. Eventually beating on the shaft with a giant hammer. I don't remember all the efforts we put forth to get a propeller loose but I do know that no propeller ever beat us! A more vexing problem was a bent shaft. If I remember correctly we sent the boats back to the Philippines for that problem.

More later,

I'm totally behind your effort to preserve PTF's.

They were very fragile during their navy supported lifetime and they are even more fragile now. It is important that those of us who care about them muster resources to take care of the remaining examples. I'm writing a narrative of my navy experience for the young son of close friends. I can't imagine why he is interested but since he is I won't let him down. The most important part of this is my time in BSU-1.

You can count on me for support in any way aside from financial. I think I told you this before but if not, I have a way to contact Senator John Kerry. He was a Swift boat captain and I bet I can get his support to help us preserve one or more of the "Ferrari's of the sea". (My term for the boats, I just thought of it tonight but it is so appropriate.) I'll bet that we could even get one with the Deltics if he helped.

Here is an excerpt of my most recent message to Cody:

I'll leave the LST portion of this for now. I can fill in details in person.

You typically spent 1 1/2 years on a ship and then you were sent to another ship or station for the remainder of your 4 year enlistment.

You could chose to remain on the ship, but although I had made great friends on the ship (especially the Engineering Officer) I had to leave, even though I had no idea where I would be going.

My orders came through and I was assigned to another LST (just my luck) but this one was home ported in San Diego.

OK, same type of ship, but at least it was stationed close to home. I took a months' leave (you accrue "leave" just like vacation time at a normal job) and flew home from Okinawa where the ship happened to be at that time.

While home I was enjoying my free time immensely. Looking forward to going to San Diego to meet my new ship. LST? San Diego? Sounded good to me.

One day I received a telegram. Yes, a telegram! (Ask your mom about telegrams, you've probably never heard of them.)

It was quite cryptic. I don't have it any longer but I remember it clearly. I was subject to a change of orders and I was being reassigned to Boat Support Unit One, Coronado, Calif.

My heart sank. I knew what Boat Support Unit One did.

They ran the boats for the Seal Team and the CIA. The life expectancy for enginemen in Boat Support Unit One was 4 months. Not a great prospect.

In the Navy you can't turn down jobs you've been assigned to. Orders are orders. You go where you are told to go or you go to the brig (jail). Not a fun prospect.

I went to Coronado as ordered.

Not a bad place. Great weather, the base is spacious, modern, lots of nice facilities. But you're still in the Navy.

The staff at BSU-1 were happy to see me. They expected me and led me through the process of getting aquatinted with the base and what they did.

At BSU-1 they had several kinds of boats. (Boats now, no ships.) The really cool ones were the hydrofoils. Tucumcary and Flagstaff. Fast, modern and experimental. Only the really elite guys got on them. Even though I was in the same unit and had a "secret" clearance (the only one better was "top secret") I was never permitted aboard either of them, too secret.

The other boats were the PTF's, the PCF's and the Swifts. The PTF's I've described. The PCF's are 50' aluminum boats widely used in Viet Nam when firepower needed to be delivered in close quarters. (Senator John Kerry, D- Mass. was a Swift boat Captain. He is also a pretty famous windsurfer today.)

The Swift boats are the ones that did the really dirty work. About 30' long, fiberglass, fragile and fast. Their only defense was a 50 caliber machine gun. Get in quick, do your job and get the hell out! When you see Apocalypse Now you will see what we did with Swift boats.

I was expected to be qualified to operate each of these boats. What that mainly amounted to on the smaller boats was checking the fuel, checking oil levels, checking pumps, etc. Pretty much what I did when I worked at the boat rental in Balboa.

The challenge was the PTF's. Eventually I was assigned to a PTF and taken off the job of working on the smaller boats. They didn't need full time crews.

The PTF's are complicated, sophisticated and expensive. Also lots of fun because they are so fast! When you are an engineman on a PTF your life is busy. They are demanding and temperamental. Lots of maintenance, lots of work.

I didn't mind. I appreciate fine machines and the PTF's are wonderful machines. I considered it an honor to serve on the PTF's. (Even though I hated the Navy and all it's restrictions on my life I considered staying in the Navy if they would assure me I could stay with the PTF's.)

They were the Ferrari's of the sea. I loved them.

While in San Diego we would mainly go out only for training. Sometimes with Seals aboard but usually not. Sometimes we would go to San Clemente island for weapons training. Took a couple of hours to get there, depending on sea conditions. The PTF's had a modern hull design but it was a "planing" hull. Great in smooth seas but pretty harsh in rough seas.

Once, we had a new skipper. An Ensign just out of Officers Candidate School. (That's the thing about the Navy, you don't have to demonstrate your qualifications to get a job, you only need the title of "Officer".

This guy had never operated a boat in his life before this assignment.)

He was told to take the boat to San Clemente island for some weapons training and he was given a time schedule for the exercise. The seas were rough and he decided to keep up with the schedule he'd been given.

He pounded the boat so hard that upon arrival back in San Diego we had to go straight to the shipyard and have the boat pulled right out of the water. All the seams of the boat had opened up and it wouldn't float.

The boat never went into the water again. It was scrapped. I'll never forgive him.

The policy of BSU-1 was to send personnel to one of it's two bases in Viet Nam for six month tours of duty. The base in Saigon ran Swifts for the CIA. The base in Da Nang ran Swifts and PTF's for the CIA.

It was my great fortune to be sent to Da Nang to operate PTF's. This was far less dangerous than being in the Saigon unit.

Done Cody............

I loved my time on the PTF's. That is the only time I can look back on my navy service fondly, in general. Of course, all through my navy career I made friends and things were cool. The only time I knew at the time was special, was on the PTF's. It was the machine. It was the incredible machine that was unmatched in any way. You cannot imagine how thrilling it was to be on a Nasty at full speed. I know boats. I know ships. 

I now windsurf and I sail at twice the speed of the wind that powers my windsurfer. That is incredible. It is wonderful to "fool mother nature" in that way. I drove race cars for 8 years. I loved it. I've skied down expert slopes. I've rock climbed up difficult rocks and mountains. I've experienced lots of thrills in my life. I guess I live for it. What I do now, produce web sites for clients, is very satisfying. I guess you could call it thrilling.

When I look back, (and I often do), I find the one time I was on a Nasty at full speed to be the most thrilling time of my life. It wasn't dangerous, as most of my past exploits have been, it was experiencing the power. Nearly 5,000 horsepower driving a light 85' boat through the water is an experience that has to be experienced to be understood.

A Nasty in our hands is good, but if it cannot be driven to it's full potential it is not the same thing I experienced. It will always be a gorgeous, purposeful boat. I'd hate to see any of them converted to civilian use.

The very original examples you've found must be preserved. 

I seem to have found an ability to present obscure issues to the media. Last year a very minor issue of windsurfing access to the San Gabriel river ended up on CNN because of my work. It also landed on the front page of the Los Angeles Times and the local Orange County newspaper. I didn't intend to have any of those things happen but I now know I have access to the media. Need publicity? I can get it.

It isn't possible for us "little people" to buy a Nasty with Deltics. Turn me loose with good info and I'll do my best to make it happen.

My time with the PTF's will always bring me great memories. I'd hate it to think that these boats no longer exist in the configuration I knew them in. I loved them then and I love them now.

You are the man. Tell me what I need to do to preserve PTF's.

I wasn't that fond of the Navy but I loved the PTF's. If I could have been assured of never having another assignment I might have stayed in. I've always loved boats and I must tell you that being on an 85' boat capable of speeds "over 65 knots" was thrilling. The sound of the turbochargers turning over 140,000 rpm is indescribable. 

It would be wonderful if a PTF could be preserved in reasonably original condition. Is that possible? I would like to help this happen if there is any way I could contribute to the effort. 

Maybe when I'm feeling a little more like writing I will tell you what it is like to be on a PTF when one of the engines "runs away". (Believe me, it's scary!) 

I came across your site while researching info on my time in Da Nang in order to better relate my experiences to a young friend.

I have a few items that might be of interest to you. While at BSU-1 from 1969 to 1971 I was in charge of the engineering office. You know, the guy who got to go out to the fuel farm and measure the amount of fuel in the tanks and bladders!

I came across a plaque from an Osprey in one of the file cabinets. Strangely enough, when I got home I discovered it in my sea bag!

Interesting, if no Ospreys were in Da Nang how would this plaque would end up in that file cabinet.

Osprey Plaque (12288 bytes)
I also included a pic of the model of a "Nasty" that I brought home with me. I think it cost either 20 or 40 cartons of Salems. PTF model (16384 bytes)

I have lots of pics of Nasty's and pics of the base and camp in Da Nang. If you are interested I could scan some and send them off to you. Let me know.

I'm amazed at how much stuff I've found on BSU-1. I'd be happy to contribute.

Alan Sandoval

I wasn't that fond of the Navy but I loved the PTF's. If I could have been assured of never having another assignment I might have stayed in.

I've always loved boats and I must tell you that being on an 85' boat capable of speeds "over 65 knots" was thrilling. The sound of the turbochargers turning over 140,000 rpm is indescribable.

It would be wonderful if a PTF could be preserved in reasonably original condition. Is that possible? I would like to help this happen if there is any way I could contribute to the effort.

Maybe when I'm feeling a little more like writing I will tell you what it is like to be on a PTF when one of the engines "runs away". (Believe me, it's scary!)