Posted by: SJS | October 26, 2011

PT Tenders and Base Support

     The PT officers and crews had some of the best trained and dedicated support teams in the US Navy.  The sailors assigned to the PT tender ships were highly skilled machinists, cooks, and craftsmen who used their talents to keep the PT boats in excellent repair and fighting trim.  On the bases, PT support crews provided communication, food preparation, and repair work that kept the crews as well as the boats in good shape.  Without such a superb supporting cast, the effectiveness of the PT boats as a fighting force would have been seriously impaired.

PT Tender USS Alecto

PT Tender USS Alecto (AGP-14)

     The Navy utilized barges to ship the PT boats from the United States to their destinations in the Aleutian Islands, the Mediterranean, and the South Pacific.  The work of unloading the PTs from the barges required the work of skilled base crews who were adept with booms and cranes.   In addition to the PT base crews, the Seabees were vital partners in many of these operations. 

     When the PTs were stationed at advance bases with makeshift harbors and few resources, it was the PT tender ships that provided maintenance and repair for the boats as well as multiple services for the crew such as hospital facilities, food supplies, and additional communications support.    The crews of the PT tenders often faced the same threats as the PTs but without the speed and maneuverability that the PT boats could use to evade or outrun an enemy.  

     The larger, slower PT tender ships were exposed and vulnerable but their crews were  every bit as courageous and resourceful as the PT crews they served.  They were as adept with their deck weapons as they were with welding tools and machine repair.  In the final months of the war in the Pacific, PT tenders were as vulnerable as any Navy vessel to suicide attack by Kamikaze planes.  A case in point, the PT tender USS Orestes suffered the loss of 45 crew members when  a Japanese dive bomber crashed onto her deck. 

PT 41 off-loaded in New Caledonia

Off-loading PT 47 at Noumea, New Caledonia by crane.

      The officers and sailors of the PT tenders and bases were the unsung heroes of the Mosquito Fleet.  Like linemen on a football team, they consistently did the hard, grinding work of covering the fundamentals so that their teammates could use their talents to defeat the opposition.  Along with their capable and creative partners, the US Seabees, the base and tender crews served behind the scenes to ensure that the military mission was accomplished. 

      The photos for this post came from the book PT Boats Behind The Scenes by Frank J. Andruss, Sr. (Noble Books LLC).  Many thanks to my friend Aneise Childress-Harvell for the gift of this outstanding volume.


  1. Steve –

    I had been wondering how the PT boats got to the places where they were stationed. Thanks for this great description of that process and the challenges that the crews of the PT tender ships faced.

    Dudley Warner

    • Dudley,
      Thanks so much for the continued support; I appreciate it very much.

  2. Steve,

    This infomation is great. I am so happy the book I gave you helped provide more historical information for your blog. I must say the pictures of the PT boats are very interesting. I am amazed at the number of things the PT officers and their crews were able to accomplish. Again thanks for sharing your research.


    • Aneiese,
      The book has been such an amazing help to my research; it provided background materials on the support services that I could not find anywhere else. Thanks again for such a helpful gift.

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