Life of PT 305
Served Its Calling and Came Home
Many Sailors have a second and even a third career after their time in the Navy. Sometimes, so do the ships they served on. For PT 305, it's been a long journey from her days of naval service to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
The Patrol Torpedo (PT) 305 was designed and built by Higgins Industries Canal Plant in early 1944 in New Orleans.
"PT 305 was laid down in April 1943 and was commissioned early in 1944," said Tom Czekanski, the director of collections and exhibits for the National World War II Museum.
PT boats were constructed of two layers of double-diagonal mahogany with a layer of glue-impregnated cloth used for better waterproofing. The mahogany made the boats light but still strong. Another bonus of the boat's construction was that it was easy to repair if it was damaged.
The crew consisted of three officers and between 12 and 17 enlisted Sailors. The ships would rotate crews to keep Sailors from getting tired.
"There were three sets of crew that would rotate through 305," said Czekanski.
PT 305 was assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 22 (RON 22). RON 22 mainly operated in the Mediterranean Sea along the coasts of Southern France and Northern Italy. Its mission was to disrupt and destroy enemy supply runs up and down the coast of Italy.
"We were so good at sinking their ships and in Europe disrupting supply lines, destroying trains and taking out truck convoys," said Czekanski. "In Italy, by the end of the war the Germans were reduced to moving artillery shells by ox carts."
The PT Boats during World War II were equipped with radar which helped in locating and destroying enemy ships.
"One thing that was exciting about our boats, we all had radar," said Czekanski. "Often the British escorts and corvettes didn't have any radar, so the PT boats could work in conjunction with them to help them find targets."
In late 1945, the entire squadron returned to the United States.
"305 and the other 11 boats were all loaded up on tankers and brought back to New York and put in for overhaul," said Czekanski. "Before the overhaul was completed the war ended."
PT 305 was sold at auction to be an oyster boat in the Chesapeake Bay. To save on fuel costs the engines were replaced with diesel engines. PT 305 served as an oyster boat until 2001.
"It was kind of an inglorious end," said Czekanski.
PT 305 was acquired by the Defenders of America Naval Museum in Galveston, Texas in 2001.
"A member of their board had painted eyes on it, like you would see on a Greek or Chinese ship," said Czekanski. "He told the story that a ship has to have its eyes so it can find its way home. Eventually 305 found its way home to New Orleans."
During the summer of 2006 the National World War II Museum was contacted about a transfer of 305. The vessel was moved to the World War II Museum in April 2007 to be restored. The boat is on track for sea trails in the spring of 2015 before becoming a static display in the museum.