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  PT-48 "Prep Tom / Deuce"
Motor Torpedo Boat
77' Elco

40 Tons
77' x 19' 11" x 4' 6"
2 x Twin .50 cal MG
4 x Torpedo Tubes

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Click For Enlargement
USN August 1, 1942

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Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2012
Ship History
Built by Electric Launch Company Ltd. (Elco) in Bayonne, NJ. Laid down June 6, 1941 as Motor Torpedo Boat 77' Elco. Launched August 21, 1941. Completed September 15, 1941. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as PT-48. Assigned to Lt. Comdr. Earl S. Caldwell.

Wartime History
On September 15, 1941 assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2 (MTBS 2). After the start of the Pacific War, this PT-Boat was assigned hull number "3" painted in white on the front and side of the cabin, in an attempt to confuse enemy agents that might observe the vessel in the United States or operating in Central America.

During the summer of 1942, transported to the Panama Canal Zone (CZ). On August 1, 1942 Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2 (MTBS 2) PT Boats including PT-48 were photographed in a row at Taboga in Panama. Assigned "No. 3 in an attempt to mislead potential enemy spies and photographed at Taboga in Panama with PT-46, PT-40, PT-60 and PT-45.

Wartime History
On August 29, 1942 the first squadron including PT-38, PT-46, PT-48 and PT-60 were loaded two per vessel aboard USS Lackawanna (AO-40) and USS Tappahannock (AO-43) that departed Balboa bound for the South Pacific. On September 19, 1942 The ships arrived in Nouméa Harbor where all four boats were unloaded and towed by USS Bellatrix (AKA-3) and USS Jamestown (PG-55) to Espiritu Santo where they were then transfered to USS Hovey (DD-208) and USS Southard (DD-207) and towed to a point 300 miles off Tulagi where they proceeded under their own power arriving at dawn on October 12, 1942 to Tulagi PT Boat Base (Sesapi).

On September 19, 1942 PT-38, PT-46, PT-48 and PT-60 were towed by USS Bellatrix (AKA-3) and USS Jamestown (PG-55) to Espiritu Santo where they were then transfered to USS Hovey (DD-208) and USS Southard (DD-207) and towed to a point 300 miles off Tulagi where they proceeded under their own power arriving at dawn on October 12, 1942 to Tulagi PT Boat Base (Sesapi). Nicknamed "Prep Tom" and "Deuce".

On October 14, 1942 around 2:00am departed Tulagi under the command of Lt(jg) Robert C. Wark to attack Japanese warships in Iron Bottom Sound shelling Henderson Field on Guadalcanal along with PT-60, PT-38 and PT-46. Proceeding towards the gunfire, PT-48 observed an enemy destroyer's spotlight illuminating PT-60. At the same moment, PT-46 cut across her bow maneuvering to avoid a Japanese destroyer, forcing this vessel to turn hard to the starboard to avoid a collision. Cruising slowly afterwards, a Japanese destroyer spotted this boat in its spotlights and opened fire from only 200 yards distant. Aboard PT-48, gunner SC1c C. E. Todd opened fire with his 50 caliber machine gun, hitting its bridge and knocking out the searchlight. This was the first PT-Boat combat in the Solomons. The confused combat resulted in the boats claiming an enemy cruiser damaged and a probable (both claims were unconfirmed).

During the night of November 6-7, 1942 this boat was commanded by Lt. Lester H. Gamble on a patrol off Koli Point on Guadalcanal and fired all four torpedoes at an enemy destroyer at less than 400 yards and reported two hits and PT-48 fled the scene. The next day debris and oil was sighted in the area.

During the night of December 6-7, 1942 commanded by Bob Searles patrolled with PT-40 off the northwestern tip of Guadalcanal. At 23:20 PT-48 spotted a group of enemy destroyers headed towards them, but when one then two of the vessel's engines failed. Spotted, the destroyers and began firing at PT-48 while PT-40 laid a smoke screen to protect her. Apparently unaware that PT-48 had engine problems, the enemy destroyers chased PT-40. Afterwards, PT-48 was able to run on one engine to anchor off Savo Island for emergency repairs.

Next, during the night of January 9-10, 1943 commanded by Bob Searles patrolled to the east of Savo Island to Cape Esperence. Then during the night of January 13-14, 1943 commanded by Ensign J. F. Kearny patrolled with PT-40 and PT-36 two miles off Domo off Guadalcanal, but overnight visibility was near zero due to rain squalls.

On February 1, 1943 commanded by Gamble with PT-111 patrolled two miles west of Savo Island, but before starting their patrol, were ineffectively bombed by a Japanese aircraft. Patrolling, Gamble observed two enemy destroyers two miles west of Savo Island and attacked, closing to 900 yards to fire two torpedoes, but both missed. Then, fired his other two torpedoes but came under fire and departed laying a smoke screen. Blocked by an enemy vessels to both east and west, Gamble ordered the boat to beach on Savo Island, expecting it to be located and sunk. Unobserved by the Japanese, the boat survived the night. The next morning, it was towed off the beach and returned to Tulagi and was placed into dry dock for two weeks of repairs.

In August 1944 and shipped back to the United States to the PT Boat training center at Melville, Rhode Island for use as training vessel.

Sold to a private buyer. The vessel was cut down to 59' and used as a dinner cruise boat in Maryland area. Later, it was sold to another owner in Florida. The boat languished in Fruitland Park, Florida, was partially sunk and about to be broken up.

Purchased by Robert Iannucci / Fleet Obsolete who built a steel cradle on site to transport the hull. During December 2008, transported to Fleet Obsolete. During December 2008 until the present, stored outdoors with a cover awaiting future restoration.

During June 2014, PT-48 was offered for sale by private treaty by Bonhams in New York but did not sell.

At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 59, 82, 85-86, 89, 95-96, 99, 101-103, 163, 452, 454, 484
Navy Source PT-48 (photos)
Fleet Obsolete and Fleet Obsolete Restoration
Fleet Obsolete Press Release PT-48 Headed to Kingston, NY [PDF]
Daily Freeman "Historic Rescue" January 30, 2009 (photos)
Mid Hudson News "PT-48 lives on in Ulster County" [PDF]
Bonhams PT-48 For Sale by Private Treaty, June 2014 / Auction literature incorrectly claimed PT-48 sank Teruzuki.
Thanks to Robert Iannucci / Fleet Obsolete for additional information

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Last Updated
August 19, 2021


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