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 Author  Topic: Towing of Ron-2 PT's from Noumea to Tulagi
Randy Finfrock

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Randy Finfrock   Send Email To Randy Finfrock Posted on: Dec 15, 2009 - 2:58pm
Here is a second subject as per Bill's PT recollections. If anyone has some comments pls let us all know. For instance, were there certain procedures for towing, and when would you break tow and go under your own power?


TOWING of PTs from NOUMEA to TULAGI, 15 Nov 1942.
> as recalled by Bill R. Tatroe, 06 Oct 2007:

"We off-loaded in New Caledonia from our transport the SS Robin Wently and ran around the harbor there, and left within a day or two. From Noumea we towed the Ron-2 first division PTs to Tulagi. A towing line had to be attached to a shackle (near or just under the water line at the bow). This would keep the bow up when under tow.

They asked for a volunteer to attach the line and I said yes! I dont know why. But, they gave me the line and I went under and put it through the U-Shackle, a bolt through it, and tightened with a wrench.

The boats were towed side to side."


P.S. Bill told me on another occasion that the PT's were under their own power for a portion of the way.



Randy Finfrock

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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Dec 15, 2009 - 7:25pm
Hi Randy,
Gene Kirklands excellent PT King website http://pt-king.gdinc.com/ has the Unknown History of PT109 which reads as follows:
It says they were turned loose 300 miles away from Tulagi and proceeded under their own power. Jerry

Eight of Squadron Two's boats - the six 77-footers plus PT's 109 and 110-- were readied for their sojourn to the combat theater, while the remaining four boats (PT 111-114) were to follow and join up with the squ-adron later. The eight boats going to the war zone were divided into two sections; the first division, with Lieutenant Westholm as senior officer was made up of PT 36 (Lieutenant j/g Marvin G. Pettit), PT 40 (Lie-utenant Allen H. Harris), PT 44 (Lieutenant Frank Freeland) and PT 47 (Lieutenant j/g Mark E. Wertz). The second section included PT 43 (Ensign James J. Cross), PT 59 (Ensign David M. Levy) PT 109 (Bryant Larson) and PT 110 (Lieutenant Charles E. Tilden). The first division's boats were hoisted aboard Liberty ship SS Robin Wently, while the second division was secured aboard another Liberty, SS Roger Williams. The two cargo ships departed for the Solomons on October 14, forming up with two other merchant ships and a warship escort, destroyer USS Warrington. Aside from the Robin Wently's 5-inch gun crew firing their weapon at an object in the water towards the end of the voyage, the trip was fairly uneventful. The convoy arrived at the harbor of Noumea, on the French possession of New Caledonia, on November 11. There the boats were unloaded, camouflaged in dark green paint, made combat-ready, and then towed to their next destination, Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. Two destroyers of World War I vintage converted to minelayers, USS Trevor and USS Zane towed the first division, leaving on November 15, and arrived at Espiritu two days later. From there two old 'four-stackers' and their charges departed on the 18th for Tulagi Harbor, 35 miles north of Guadalcanal, arriving on the 20th. Tulagi was the first PT boat operating base in the Solomons area, established in in October with the arrival of the new MTB Squadron Three, reconstituted after the orig- inal outfit was destroyed in the Philippines. Squadron Two's second division, including Ensign Larson's 109, left Noumea on the 20th, under tow of another pair of ancient four-stackers, USS Manley and USS McKean. They arrived at Espiritu on the 23rd and at 1930 that evening the convoy hoisted anchor and sailed for Tulagi. After reaching a point some 300 miles from their destination the PT's were turned loose and proceeded to complete the rest of the trip under their own power. The boats arrived at Tulagi on the 25th, tying up to the dock at the former Chinese village of Sesapi. The following day, Lieutenant Westholm came aboard 109 and took over as its new boat captain, while Bryant Larson reverted back to his original position as the boat's executive officer. Radioman Ed Guenther, when relating about his PT service aboard 109, said he always referred to Mr. Westholm and Mr. Larson as 'the two Swedes'. Meanwhile Mr. Chester, the regular exec, was transferred to Frank Freeland's PT 44'a seemingly insignificant move at the time, but one that would later prove to be fatal

Jerry Gilmartin

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Allan

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Allan   Send Email To Allan Posted on: Dec 16, 2009 - 7:36pm
Hey Guys:

The account of the towing of the MTB's from Noumea to Tulagi is interesting but a bit puzzling. I never like to take exception to a vet's recollections and prefer to think of it as a mere clarification. The Hilo and the Tulsa both towed MTB's in the Southwest Pacific and there are numerous accounts of these ships going to battle stations with MTB's under tow. When they did they usually, but not always, dispersed the MTB's, who also went to battle stations. That required that the tow lines "were cast off" to allow the boats to run free. The tow lines were, so far as I know, always braided wire (wire cable), usually 13/16 diameter, and the boats usually rode about 100 fathoms astern. When towing the boats in pairs, each rode with their helm hard aport and hard astarboard, respectively (with some adjustments), to counteract the force of the towing in conjunction with the rolling and pitching and, of course, the overall pounding. If additional boats were running free, the towing was alternated among all the boats to "share the discomfort". Sometimes the Div 17 boats would be under tow for more than twenty-four hours before "switching off". To facititate all of this, to my knowledge the tow line was attached at deck level at the bow, on the bullnose, I believe.

Tulsa Deck Log entry:
"1600-1800
Steaming as before on course (standard speed 131 rpm, 11 knots). 1741 Stopped. Commenced taking PT's in tow. 1743 Took PT 121 in tow. 1756 Took PT 122 in tow.
1757 Ahead at 1/3 speed. MTB's riding to 100 fathoms of 13/16" wire hawser respectively. ."

The hawsers broke often and had to be either repaired or replaced. The method of attachment, therefore, had to be something that could be changed while "hove to" in moderate or greater seas, etc. Attaching and detaching beneath the waterline would seem impossible in those conditions. And to run with a length of broken hawser trailing through the props just would never be tollerated. But then- I could be wrong. I wasn't there.

Also, please remember that when the second section of Ron TWO was towed out to Tulagi, PT's 113 and 114 had already been split away, reassigned to Ron SIX, and then became the first two MTB's of DIVISION SEVENTEEN, along with PT's 119, 120, 121 and 122 of Ron SIX. Div 17 is my subject of interest, my father having been in the original crew of the 113 boat as QM2c. I've now written 380 plus pages of first-hand accounts, action reports, deck logs and personal diaries regarding DIV 17 and Task group 50.1 (later, 70.1).

The last thing I want to do is offend anyone. That's my two cents, for what it's worth.

Allan



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comcardiv1

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Dec 16, 2009 - 8:21pm
Allan:

I don't know about the Div 17 boats, but many of the Tulagi 77' Elcos had what was called a 'towing eye' attached to the bow below deck level, just where the chine rails meet. I don't know the particulars of the towing set-up, but here's a photo of PT 59 that clearly shows this item:




If it was to make towing easier, it didn't work--the boats' towlines still parted during towing--and if the sources I read were correct, the boats regained the tow with the towing ship while underway.

Gene Kirkland


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TED WALTHER

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TED WALTHER   Send Email To TED WALTHER Posted on: Dec 17, 2009 - 8:15am
Allan and Gene;
Speaking from experiance in my era of NSW boat ops and some photos of PT's, the boats usually had what is called a "towing pennant" this is a section of line that is shackled to the towing eye, it runs up the bow passes through the bull nose(or bow fairlead) and is secured to the king post, on 80' Elco's it was known as the towing bit(which was centerline at frame 4), this was probably made of 1 inch line. The towing line was usually passed from the towing vessel and it was shackled to the towing pennant, this would allow the tow line to move up and down on the pennant while riding the waves.
Take care,
TED



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TED WALTHER

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TED WALTHER   Send Email To TED WALTHER Posted on: Dec 17, 2009 - 8:35am
P.S.
Gene; As for 77' ELCO's, you have a nice view of a 1" line(Rope for the landlubbers!) towing pennant mounted in place on the bow of PT 39(AKA: PT 8) in photo 7 03 in the Mystery PT's section. Another is on the wreck of PT 43. If you look most of these photos show it on the various boats, Later on 77' and early 80' Elcos at Tulagi, a few boats don't have one, maybe they did away with it all together and just used lines directly to towing bits, or maybe it is just stowed.
Take care,
TED


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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Dec 17, 2009 - 1:25pm
One of Dicks ELCO plans show a towing rig made up of a cable coming from the tow boat with a block attached to the end. A cable was attached to the PT's towing/mooring bitt topsides, ran through the bow fairlead, ran through the block, then came back to the boat and attached to the towing eye on the hull. I would guess this bridle arrangement helped lessen jerks when the boat was pitching in the waves.



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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Dec 17, 2009 - 1:32pm
It would also keep the tension equal at the two tow points.


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Allan

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Allan   Send Email To Allan Posted on: Dec 18, 2009 - 4:46pm
Ted, Gene, and Others:

Excellent discussion. Your references are well taken and the photos were found to be very interesting. I wonder if that towing pennant could be what a number of vets have called a "towing bridle", or is that something different. It's kind of odd, really- I find references to a towing hawser breaking and being repaired while at sea, even while moving at ten or twelve knots. But just think of how much work that is a for a few who have to fish the hawser ends out of the water, make the repairs, and get everything back in place, sometimes in just twenty minutes or so. Those few words: "Tow line parted. Made repairs and MTB back under tow." hardly convey the effort involved. I've seen much smaller diameter braided cable snap- it could take your head off, it would seem. But I've never found an account of anyone being injured by a parting towline. Those guys (and you guys) were "rough and tough".

Allan


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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Dec 19, 2009 - 5:53am
Oops, I see I described what Ted already mentioned, the "towing pennant".



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