PT 728 Touring the East Coast

PT 728 was the original designation of the hull, the 728th built. With the keel laid only days before the Japan surrender, this is one of the latest of the PT's. This was one of the few Vosper boats, said to be a stepped hull design. Originally powered with 3 Packard/Merlins (Packard was a contractor building the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine), she was repowered with a pair Detroit Diesel 8V-71TI's for the making of the TV show McHales Navy (PT73). This boat was portrayed as PT 109 in the movie, and several other PT boat roles in movies and TV.

The tapered lines of the aft section remind me of the Mahogany runabouts of the era. If this had just a tiny bit of tumblehome, it could be a runabout on steroids, couldn't it? After all, it really IS Mahogany. Notice the triple outboard rudders; the outboard rudders have the tillers going into transom cutouts; a link down by the cavitation plate slaves the center rudder.

This tour has the boat touring the East Coast from its homeport of Key West to the Kingston wooden boat show in N.Y. The owner is a District Attorney in N.Y. with an extensive maritime historical collection. We have all heard of the "Plywood Derby" where the Navy had sea trials of the different Mfr's proposals for the Motor Torpedo Boat contracts. Plywood was a new technology during WWII and some of the boats in those sea trials had their share of difficulty. The Navy was really kind of disappointed. However, the Navy came back with a proposal to build them of double diagonal Mahogany. Soon the contracts were being awarded with diagonal planked hulls and plywood upper structures and decks.

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The cruise aboard PT 728 was great in that they powered up for a few miles, then idled down for awhile to tell of the history, construction, war tactics, or transcripts of the PT 109 incident, and so on. The drubbing of those Detroits wide open wears on you after awhile, so a few minutes at idle is rather welcome. After a short informational story it is power on again!! We had several of these informational breaks during the total cruise. Pretty neat actually. This boat made about 25knots with those Detroits and the loading, so it seemed tame from the stories you hear about the PT's. However, those stories of 35-40 knots were right out of the factory at sea trials BEFORE all the weapons were mounted and supplied. At battle weight they were about 25 knot boats (so the story goes).

Looking at the wake, it didn't seem like we were going all that fast, but a runabout came alongside to get a picture, it looked like HE was flogging his boat pretty well just to get a picture of us. One of the 'at idle' stories was of the wake. Story goes that a great deal of design went into the hull to produce minimal wake, as the wake of a boat left an arrowhead pointing right to the boat. The foam of the wake also irradiances (glow in the dark) and it does seem that this wake is kinda short. Realize, this is a 71 foot boat with a 19' beam, up on plane @25tons; I have seen boats under 30' throw as much wake as this.

A hard turn to starboard. It turns rather flat. The bow wake can be seen on the left, and a slick produced by the hull sliding around the turn at speed.

A view of the outboard hung rudders at speed. Remember the 'at idle stories?' Well, a story goes that the square cut on top of the rudder stock is just in case the helm and superstructure gets blown off in battle. Thereby one can clamp a tiller on top of the rudder stock and steer the boat to safety via a tiller from the aft deck.

Can any of you guys imagine steering a 71' boat, @ 30 tons, @ 4,000 hp, @ 30 knots, FROM A TILLER!!!!!!

She is obviously up on plane, drafting about 8 inches at the transom. That cavitation plate is purported to be a hunk of solid bronze.

I even got a chance to get at the helm, the boat feels sluggish, but look at the girls hair on the left, into the wind!!!! The crew is gracious enough to let folks get their picture at the helm.