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Elco 80'

56 Tons
80' x 20' 8" x 5'
1 x 40mm
2 x Twin 50 cal MG
4 x 21" Torpedoes

Ship History
Built by Electric Boat Company (Elco) in Bayonne, NJ. Completed as PT-353. Assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 25 (MTBS-25).

Wartime History
On March 27, 1944 PT-353 under the command of Ens George H. Gucker with PT-121 were investigated a schooner and were navigating the reefs at Ewasse in Bangula Bay inside Kimbe Bay near Talasea. Four Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-40 Kittyhawks from 78 Squadron flying over the area confirmed via radio that the schooner was hit and no longer a target.

Later, four other P-40 Kittyhawks from 78 Squadron and a Beaufighter from 30 Squadron accidentally attacked the pair of PT-Boats. Another Beaufighter successfully identified the ships as friendly, but was not able to stop the attack. After they made several passes, the PT-Boats returned fire, but the captains of each boat made them cease fire.  As a result of the attacks, both PT-Boats were hit, burned and sank.

Shortly after the attack, the first group of P-40s returned to the area, reported the tragedy and dropped life raft.  Five hours later, other P-40s guided PT-346 and PT-354 to the site to look for survivors. A total of four officers and four enlisted men were KIA, four officers and four enlisted men were WIA. This was the first friendly fire incident in the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA) when Allied aircraft accidentally attacked PT-Boats but would not be the last incident.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 78 Squadron Operations Record Book (ORB) - March 27, 1944
"27.3.44 - 2 airplanes bombed and strafed A. A. positions on Garove Island, one bomb landing in target area and another in bivouac area. The A. A. area was strafed with unobserved results. An armed reconnaissance was carried out from Menelo Plantation to Hummock Head. Huts and buildings at Malalia, Bialia Plantation and Ubili were strafed and hit. Airplanes from this squadron together with airplanes from other units were concerned in an attack on two American P.T. boats [PT-121 and PT-353] in Kimbe Bay. 4 airplanes escorted P. T. boats to Ubili area with nil enemy sightings."
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 232, 234, 472, 488
Navy Source PT-353

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Last Updated
August 10, 2019


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