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 Author  Topic: Blackett Straight Charts - Reposted


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Dick   Send Email To Dick Posted on: Mar 27, 2012 - 5:24pm
Blackett Straight Charts

David Buck
Would anyone have a copy of the chart of Blackett Straight that PT Skippers would have used that could be posted on the Notice Board ?

Drew Cook
Dave, Some time ago, someone posted a detailed nautical chart of the 109 shipwreck survivor island area, with reef markings and depth soundings, here on the Message Board.

As I recall, I think it had Plum Pudding (aka Bird) Island circled in red. Don't know if its a wartime chart the PT skippers would've used. It should be some pages back.

Somewhere on the internet in the last several years, I saw an identical chart to the one posted on the wall of the hut in the movie "PT 109" in the scene in which Lt. Brantingham gives the briefing for the August 1-2 patrol. Don't know if that one was an actual wartime chart, or something postwar.

Gary Paulsen
Dave Believe this might the posting Drew is refering to.

David Buck
Thankyou Drew and Gary thats what I was looking for.

Nathanial thanks for the orignal post I was wondering if that is the whole map or does it extend further into Kolombangara Island .

Nathaniel Smith
Is this what you want or are you looking for just Blackett Strait?

Nathaniel Smith
This version is the extension of the one I posted on 21 May 2010.

Drew Cook
Gary and Nat, Yes, that's what I was referring to, and thank you both for posting the link and maps.

Besides the 109 saga, its a great map of the area of the last encounter between the PTs and the (four-destroyer run of the) "Tokyo Express" -- unproductive as it was for the PTs.

David Buck
Thanks Nat. That is just what I needed thankyou for posting them.

Nathaniel Smith
PhotoBucket reduces the resolution by about a half (from 180dpi to 72 dpi). If you need the higher res versions send me an email address.

David Buck
Did you receive my email?


Is it a chart the US PT boat's actually used at that time, "or" a chart of the area ? Much of the good charting of the Solomons was done by the Yanks while the war was on.

I know they would have used the 1893 British chart of Rendova Harbor (for instance), prior to the "Restricted" USN chart coming out in November of 1943, to be reprinted by the Hydrographic Office in February of 1944, as surveyed by the USS PATHFINDER.

The one chart above (in this forum post) shows a Compass Rose dated 1965, so it may be a continued chart of the area- and it would not been what the PT boat's were actually using/used. Often there is more information on the chart itself as to dates of survey and who did it. If it was a (then) current USN war time chart being used, it probably would have "Restricted" on it. My USN Rendova Harbor, has both "Restricted" & "1st Edition" on the chart, along with other information normal for charts.

Shoals, other info, or supposed reef sightings etc. may reflect the date of first report (like the 1919 date near Gizo), and continued on until better survey, or just continued. The chart on the forum also shows "bottom composition", which again probably shows us it is unlikely the copy used by the PT boats before/during the PT-109 incident (or even by PT's for sometime afterwards), as all my 1893 British Charts of the Solomons "do not" show bottom composition in anchorages with much, much, shallower water, where it is much, much, more important. However, the USN charts I have do show bottom composition.

My 1893 British survey of Rendova Harbor and Viru Harbor show it was: surveyed in 1893 published at the Hydrographic Office (Washington DC), in April of 1913 then marked as a 3rd Edition of October of 1921

it has a Compass Rose dated 1940 and then to be stamped Corrected with Notice to Mariners in Jan. 1944.

This chart is an example what the US Navy would have used for/during the Rendova Landing and by early PT Boat Squadrons in the Harbor I reckon,, this until the USN charts became available.

If I remember their were at least two US vessels doing surveys in the Solomons during the war- some of their stories can be seen online. You can read those stories and see the areas of survey in the Solomons they were doing. Another ship was the USS OCEANOGRAPHER.


Smith David ... Sorry, but no.

David Buck
Hi Nat. I tried again if you do not receive anything let me know.

Drew Cook
I found this period naval chart of the New Georgia island group area that we were discussing on the "Blackett Straight Charts" thread a while ago. Although it's dated 15 November 1943, it seems to me it wouldn't have changed much from one PT skippers would have been using on 1-2 August 1943.

Your map/chart seems to be a aviation chart that looks to be for the Naval Air Corps (?). Two of the airfields Barakoma and Ondonga were not even in existance in August of 1943. A PT boat skipper could have had something along like this for GP, but for navigation it would just serve for reference of sorts, and not be of any great use for the area of operations.

This area of Blackett Straight and the Gulfs etc.. would/should be considered somewhat confined waters, but one has to just look at GE to see where your choke points and hazards would be. The US Navy was using Rendova Harbor for PBY's in a big way as the war progressed- I've no doubt even before the PBY's used the Harbor they (US Navy) would have had access to photograph's much of the Straight and Gulfs- overcome & adapt- even a hand drawn map/chart would be better then the map/chart you provided for the immediate area of operations. These men went and won a war because they knew they were going too, not by waiting around for something to be provided.

I'm no PT boat expert like many aboard here, but in my reading often the boats would follow and try to utilize other boats equipped with radar when possible- this as crude as it was- was better then nothing. So between basic charts of the time, sometimes crude radar, the water depths being fairly deep and consistent in much of the area (even right offshore), photo recon, boats and crew talking to one another, conspicuous landmarks (when they can be seen), looking for and smelling the reefs and even local scout knowledge- one could build/make a very effective chart/map of the area to go by, without waiting to be provided with one(s) that simply state what is likely fairly well known already.

I like your map though- as I've been interested in the bearings the planes took from field to field, as it helps in my potential searches. Also the longitude seems to be slightly better then some I have/seen.


Drew Cook
Point(s) well taken in your observation of the "15 November 1943" chart posted (by Dick, our webmaster, for me).

I just figured because of the date, it may have been a more recent chart than those we've seen before. I'll admit it's pretty large-scale, and isn't detailed for navigation as to shoals, reefs and depths. With the list of compass headings to the different airfields in the area, it probably was an aerial map.
Nathaniel Smith

I found a few websites of interest here. They have the maps but you need to stitch them together.

This image (reduced quality by PhotoBucket) show a detail of what you can find at the site below:

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Shaneo2  Posted on: Mar 31, 2012 - 5:03pm

Many thanks (!) for those links you provided. Some are areas I hope to get into and I never seen a chart for them before (although I was not looking real hard).

Some (many) are very good in showing more detail- then some of the early British charts I seen. I forgot to mention around Summer of last year (2011) someone was on the "Craigslist" Hawaii selling all sort of WW-II Charts for/from all over the Pacific apparently. I was given the email of the seller (and since lost it I was out of the country anyway, so not much I could've done.

I will make a "note to self" to check Craigslist more often.


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Drew Cook


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Drew Cook  Posted on: Mar 31, 2012 - 6:05pm

You're welcome, but -- those links were posted by Nat Smith.

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Shaneo2  Posted on: Mar 31, 2012 - 9:43pm
Ooops, thanks to Nat Between the post re-posting, my lack of attention and horrible multitasking, I messed that one up. Ah heck with it- I'll just thank everyone and act like nothing happened- Cheers for pointing that out though.

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TheBridge  Posted on: Apr 1, 2012 - 11:41am
I just asked Bud Liebenow (skipper of 157 at Rendova and Lever Harbor in July/August 1943) about charts to help answer this question.

He certainly had NO depth charts. He said Cmdr Kelly (RON-9) had some maps and in the first days in any new area they were to patrol, Kelly rode the lead PT as they went out on patrol and in time the other PTs learned where to go (and not to go) based on these patrols. Liebenow said he thinks the 157 might had a rather basic map of the major islands in the areas which he apparently didn't use as he doesn't recall ever referring to it. However, if you were going in to do drop-off or pick-up of coast watchers or, as the 157 had to also do the night they picked up the crew of the 109, he had Welford West take depth readings from up on the bow with a lead line.

P.S. I know this is not the question but to an earlier question asked a few months ago,,,Bud reiterated, they never, ever used running lights. When they traveled in groups they went in echelon formation and you always tracked the wake of the boat ahead of you.


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