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The Final Disposition of the Wooden Fleet

from "At Close Quarters" by Captain Robert J Bulkley

In mid-August 1945, 30 squadrons of PT’s were in commission.  Nineteen were in the Seventh Fleet, six in the Pacific Fleet, three were being reconditioned in the United States for Pacific duty after combat in the European theater, one was shaking down in Miami, and one was the training squadron at Melville.  By the end of the year all had been decommissioned except Squadron 4, the training squadron, and the brand new Squadron 41.  In addition, there was Squadron 42, which had been fitting out in New York in August, and which was the only PT unit placed in commission after the end of hostilities.

The Navy Department properly got rid of most of the PT’s.  Their job was done, and because of their light wooden construction, they could not be stored away against future need as the steel-hulled ships of the fleet.  Indeed, many of the older boats, which had been kept running because of combat necessity, were no longer worth saving for any purpose.  All the boats in the Western Pacific were carefully surveyed. It was found that 118 hulls were defective because of broken frames, worms and dry rot, broken keels, cracked longitudinals, or battle damage.  These boats were stripped of all salvageable material and the bare hulls were burned on the beach at Samar.

The serviceable boats in the Pacific, after being stripped of armament and other military equipment, were turned over to the Foreign Liquidation Commission, and those in the United States to the War Shipping Administration for disposal.

Squadron 4, 41, and 42 were being saved for training purposes, but early in 1946, the Navy Department decided to retain only a few PT’s for experimental work.  Squadrons 41 and 42 were decommissioned in February and Squadron 4 in April.  Pt’s 613, 616, 619 and 620 , new Elco boats originally in Squadron 42 and later in Squadron 4, were transferred to the Operational Force – the last PT’s remaining in service.

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Connelly, Garth T. PT Boats in Action. Carrollton: Squadron Signal, 1994

Doyle, David.. PT Boats in Action. Carrollton: Squadron Signal, 2010

Chun, Victor. American PT Boats in World War II. Atglen: Schiffer Military, 1997

Johnson, Frank D. United States PT Boats of World War II in Action. Poole Dorset: Blandford Press, 1986

Ferrell, Bob. United States Mosquito Fleet. Memphis: PT Boat Boat Museum and Library, 1977

Bulkley, Captain Robert J. At Close Quarters, PT Boats in the United States Navy. Washington: Naval History Division, 1962

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