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 Author  Topic: PT Boats in the news: ELCO Crane Dedicated in NJ
Mike Montana

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Mike Montana  Posted on: Oct 18, 2006 - 9:36am
Geary Sims found this article and emailed it to me [I'll try to go get photos this weekend]


ELCO Crane dedicated
PT Boat sailors and others gather in Rutkowski Park

Bob Anderson, originally of Jersey City, recalled the early years of World War II when he worked for Western Electric in Kearny.

"I would take a break and look out on Newark Bay and see the PT (patrol torpedo) boats being run," he said. "Although I knew I was going into service soon, I never imagined I would wind up on one."

Anderson was among the handful of veterans and former workers of the Electric Launch Company who came to Bayonne's Rutkowski Park on Oct. 4 for the dedication of the ELCO crane - used during World War II to lift the PT boats into the water - where it was reassembled as a monument to Bayonne's historic past.

The crane, which was formerly located at the Electric Launch Company (ELCO) site on West Eighth Street, was set aside to be installed at Rutkowski Park when the West Eighth Street site was developed for townhouses.

ELCO was among two sites in the United States that manufactured PT Boats for combat both in European and the Pacific in World War II, and was responsible for the construction of PT 109 commanded by John F. Kennedy and figured in his heroic actions prior to his becoming president of the United States.

Anderson actually wound up serving not on a boat built in Bayonne, but a shorter model built at another plant, and served as the torpedo man on PT boats in both the European and Pacific conflict areas. Patrol boat duties varied. Anderson's boat was involved in spy work and night patrol.

"We would leave at sundown and patrol at night," he said. "As soon as it turned light, we would go back."

Often in the morning as light revealed them, his boat would receive gunfire from the shore. He also remembered conflicts with other patrol boats and remembers a gun fight which his boat fought with an Italian PT boat.

"We had to rescue the survivors and bring them ashore for questioning," he recalled.

Anderson and his wife Marjorie cut their vacation short by a day in order to join the dedication partly because cranes like this one played a significant role lifting PT boats in and hour of the water.

Anderson also takes part in a yearly reunion of PT boat people - the most recent of which occurred last summer in Spokane Washington - that upholds the traditions and the memory of a small but vital piece of America's war effort.

Al McClure, former animal control officer in Secaucus, also came to the crane dedication, partly because he had not seen one of these cranes in the 60 years since he served on a PT boat. He had enlisted into service at the age of 17, and was assigned to a PT boat constructed at the ELCO facility in Bayonne.

"We would get lowered into the water from the side of the ship," he said.

McClure's tour of duty took him to what was then called the West Dutch Indies in the South Pacific where his boat's chore was to hinder the Japanese ability re-supply island outposts.

"We were supposed to try and interfere with traffic between the islands," he said. "Mostly we handled landing barges."

Hobert Sharkey, of Bayonne, was 22 years old when he began service as a PT boat sailor, and during his career, served on three, PT Boat 95 on which he trained, then later PT 98 and PT 302. His ship's duties also involved interfering with enemy support of troops throughout the Mediterranean Sea.

"We stopped them," he said

A historic moment

Mayor Joseph Doria, in the dedication ceremonies said Baker Residential had paid to relocate the crane to Rutkowski Park, as well as mounted plaque at the new site and one at the original site.

"It is fitting that this crane is located here since we have a historic film showing the PT boats being tested in Newark Bay from here to the ELCO site on Eighth Street," he said.

Mark Baker, president of Baker Residential acknowledged the significance of the crane in the launching of around 355 PT boats during World War ii and that it would stand as a monument for freedom and democracy.

Although former Freeholder Barry Dugan said he believed the site was an appropriate location for the crane, not everybody agreed.

"Some people think we should have located the crane down at the former Military Ocean Terminal," he said.

Marvin Silber, an environmental photographer, believed Rutkowski Park was the wrong place to put the crane, claiming that children will come here to learn about nature, and that the crane should be located with the some of the other monuments to the past at the former Military Ocean terminal.

"That is a place where adults can appreciate it," he said.

Council President Vincent Lo Re, however, said children would benefit from crane because they will be coming to Rutkowski Park as part of their educational program and the crane will provide teachers with a vehicle to talk about the history of Bayonne.

"The crane will become a take off point for teachers to talk about the historic events in which Bayonne played a part," he said.

"Self doubt clips the wings of Hope"

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Frank J Andruss Sr


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Oct 18, 2006 - 12:38pm

That Crane holds a special place in my Heart. In 1998, I was invited to the old site, to tour Building 21. Our first attempt at finding the Elco site failed, as we drove by the docks. Our second attempt, I had just spotted the top of the Crane, and knew we had found the old Elco site. Man, when I spotted that Crane as I left the Car, my emotions just poured out and tears came down my checks. I was so excited to finally come to the place where Elco PT Boats were gently placed into the water, and that massive Crane still worked!!

I was invited to sit in the Crane and operate the controls. It was just great. I went back in time for sure. I have some nice original Elco Photo's of the Crane in the early stage of PT development. That Crane was made by Bergon Point Iron Works in New Jersey. Can you imagine being the operator and putting all those boats in the water. He probably never gave it a thought back then, and probably never knew what History he was involved with.

I would like to get the original article. Was it in the Bayonne Newspaper or Jersey Journal. Photo's would be awesome to have. Let us know when you find out, and thanks for sharing this wonderful story,

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