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  PT-61 (C68371, BPT-13, PTC-29)
PT Boat
77' Elco

40 Tons
77' x 19' 11" x 4' 6"
As Built
2 x Twin 50 cal MG in Dewandre turrets
4 x 18" Torpedoes

Gunboat Conversion 1943
2 x Twin 50 cal MG
4 x 50 cal MG
2 x 40mm Bofors

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USN August 1, 1942

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Kenneth W. Prescott 1943

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Kenneth W. Prescott 1943

Ship History
Built by Electric Boat Co. (Elco) as a 77' Elco in Bayonne, NJ. This vessel was planned as Motor Boat Submarine Chaser (PTC-29) but reclassified BPT-13 for Great Britain, but never delivered. Laid down August 2, 1941. Launched October 15, 1941. Reclassified PT-61 in December 1941. Completed February 19, 1942 and delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as PT-61.

On January 13, 1942 assigned to Squadron 4 (MTBS 4) at MTB Squadrons Training Center, Melville, RI.

On May 7, 1942 transferred to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2 (MTBS 2). During the summer, departed Melville, RI motoring southward to Panama along with PT-59, PT-60. This was the first time PT Boats had made the crossing from the United States to Panama under their own power arriving at Balboa.

On July 27, 1942 transferred to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3(2) MTBS 3(2). On August 1, 1942 photographed at Taboga in Panama along with PT-46, PT-40, PT-48 and PT-45.

Loaded aboard a merchant ship along with PT-37, PT-39, PT-45 and transported across the Pacific Ocean to Nouméa Harbor then northward to the Solomon Islands to operate from Tulagi PT Boat Base (Sesapi) arriving on October 25, 1942. In the Solomons, the rear two torpedo tubes were removed and four depth charges instead.

On November 8, 1942 departed Tulagi PT Boat Base (Sesapi) under the command of Lt(jg) Robinson leading a night patrol of Iron Bottom Sound with PT-39 and PT-37, the only three boats serviceable after three nights of operations. South of Savo Island, PT-39 spotted an enemy destroyer and the three boats deployed in a line abreast formation then spotted two more destroyers. During their torpedo attack, PT-61 was unable to fire her torpedoes as her line of sight was blocked by PT-37. The enemy destroyers turned to evade the attack and turned on their searchlights and responded with gunfire. PT-61 was hit in the bow by a large shell but managed to escape behind a smokescreen and was able to use high speed to prevent the damaged bow out of the water and calm seas and made it back to Tulagi PT Boat Base.

During 1943, converted into a gunboat armed with two 40mm anti-aircraft guns plus four additional .50-caliber machine guns behind shields and the torpedoes removed. Assigned to Executive officer (XO) and commanding officer (CO) Kenneth W. Prescott.

On October 8, 1943 photographed at sea with PT-168.

During the night of January 10-11, 1944 departed Torokina PT Boat Base in Empress Augusta Bay under the command of Lt(jg) R. L. Rhoads on a reconnaissance in strength against Green Island Atoll to inspect the channels and evaluate enemy strength on a mission led by PT-176 plus PT-184 and PT-59. During the open sea crossing and bad weather, PT-61 sustained damage including the smoke generator breaking loose and falling overboard with the the exhaust stack and fouled the gears of her 40mm Bofors. Heavier, older and slower, gunboats PT-61 and PT-59 could not keep up with the other two boats which proceeded without them to complete the reconnaissance mission.

On February 16, 1944 reclassified as a small boat C68371. Ultimate fate unknown.

At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 59, 82, 89, 147, 452, 454, 561 (index)
Navy Source PT-61
U.S. Small Combatants: An Illustrated Design by Norman Friedman
A PT Skipper in the South Pacific by Kenneth W. Prescott

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Last Updated
November 16, 2018


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