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Forum Category: PT Boats of WWII
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Forum Name: PT Boats - General
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Topic: MaccDuff
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Hello!

Can someone provide me with information on how a PT skipper communicated with his crew, both before and during a mission? I'd like to know how much direct communication there was between the skipper and individual crew members. Any reference to a source for how a PT crew operated, particularly regarding chain of command on the boat, would be appreciated. Thanks.

The Duffer[:-sunglasses-:]



Posted By: MaccDuff | Posted on: Aug 8, 2007 - 7:10pm
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered



Duffer

The Skipper would communicate with his Crew simply by Taling with them or hand signals. Being as the boat was only 80 feet in lenth it was not difficult to be understood. The Chart House which housed the Quartermaster was right next to the helm so the Skipper could simply talk with him thru the door or by phone ( some boats had this set up ) Crewmemberz on the Bow were also very close so voice contact or hand signals were used.

Crewmembers in the forward and rear turrets were also close enough to be heard thru voice or hand signals. The Skipper could communicate with the engine room by several methods. One was thru a buzzer that was set up on the helm control board, which could be heard in the engine room. When the Skipper pressed this button, a series of one buzzer, two buzzers, or three buzzers all meant something to the engineer on duty. Also, annunciators on the control panel in the engine room showed forward, neutral, or reverse when the skipper put the throttles into one of those positions at the helm. Also some boats hand sound power phones installed from the halm to the engine room, or a voice tube which could also be used from the bridge to the charthouse.

Crewmwmbers on the stern operating the 40mm Bofors Cannon or 20mm cannon also relied on hand signals or other crewmwmbers on General Quarters to act as runners between the gun and the helm. Most gunners simply opened up on the target when sighted and did nor rely on the Skipper to tell them when to fire unless this was pre-determined before the boat went on patrol. Crewmembers knew their jobs ans acted as one big oiled machine when in the Combat area. I am sure those that were there will add to this post and include anything I may have left out. Hope this helps..........




Posted By: Frank J Andruss Sr | Posted on: Aug 8, 2007 - 10:03pm
Total Posts: 3497 | Joined: Oct 9, 2006 - 6:09am



ALSO,BEFORE WE WENT OUT ON A MISSION WE MUSTERED,ON DECK AND THE SKIPPER WOULD GIVE US A RUNDOWN ON THE MISSION.WHERE WE WERE GOING AND WHAT TO DO IF THE BOAT WAS DISABLED BY ENEMY FIRE.WE WERE TOLD OF THE AREA AND WHAT TO TRY TO DO IF WE HAD TO ABANDON SHIP.WE WERE ALSO TOLD OF THE PASSENGERS ABOARD AND WHAT THEIR MISSION WAS.WE OFTEN HAD JUST FOR THE RIDE PASSENGERS.PILOTS,ETC.. SINCE I HAD TO COOK MEALS AND GET SUPPLIES I WAS CONSULTED BEFORE MISSIONS AS TO HOW MANY PASSENGERS WERE GOING TO BE ABOARD FOR THE MISSION AND WHAT SUPPLIES TO GET.
EARL PT 108

earl richmond

Posted By: earl | Posted on: Aug 9, 2007 - 12:10am
Total Posts: 197 | Joined: Oct 18, 2006 - 12:13pm



Duffer:
I am sure each boat had different proceedures. When we were to go on patrol our Skipper or Exec would give the information to the chart house crew (quartermaster and radioman) they in turn would gave the information to the rest of the crew as to where we were going and what the mission might encounter. Much of the time the crew was not given much dope as to just what we were to expect. I am sure the officers didn't know either. When on patrol and General Quarters were called by the Skipper - the rest of the crew was informed by passing the word to the next man. Since no one was allowed below deck during patrol, we could be informed and on station in probably less than a minute. At G.Q.being the port turret gunner I was right by the Skipper at the wheel so I knew what was going on but the guys on the stern quns had to informed by runner.

As for chain of command- The skipper was in command at all times however when we would return from patrol we would let the skipper off at the dock for the intelligence meeting - the Exec was in command while we were at the base. He saw that the guns were cleaned, cleaning of the boat, other necessary maintenace. The skipper usually slept ashore but the Exec stayed on the boat with the crew. (Of course this proceedure varied with different bases) If no officers were aboard our first class quartermaster, Bob Pratt, was in command. He was a very proficient boat handler.

C. J. Willis

Posted By: CJ Willis | Posted on: Aug 9, 2007 - 7:25pm
Total Posts: 464 | Joined: Nov 5, 2006 - 5:02pm



PT Sailors,

Thanks, guys, this is great information.

Just so you'll know why I wanted this info:

I work for a defense contractor, and have a background in software development. Most of the "rules and regulations" on how to develop military software are written for the huge projects with dozens if not hundreds of developers. The typical projects at my organization have ten or less, often five or less, developers. The rules developed for those big projects ill-suit our smaller ones, but they get levied on them nonetheless.

I saw an analogy here between the "big ship" navy and the PT boats; the latter have always fascinated me since I was a boy. I'm writing a short article for an upcoming issue of the Journal of Software Defense Engineering which uses the PT boats as an analogy for my typical small projects in the "big project" navy. Sure, everyone followed navy regulations, but the tactics and day-to-day operations of the PTs were fundamentally different from the typical warship - epitomized by the very short chain of command and the direct communications of the PTs. (The big project rules want documentation of everything, but small projects - like the PTs - handled most communications verbally. Hard to document that!) I guess the summary of my article is: "Don't run your small project (PT boat) like a big project (heavy cruiser). If you do, you'll be sunk."

In reviewing in a draft, the editors questioned whether I actually KNEW that the skipper communicated directly with the crew, both before and during a mission. Thanks to you all, I now do.

The web site for the JSDE is http://www.stsc.hill.af.mil/crosstalk/2007/08/index.html. The article should show up around February (?). If any of you would like to see a draft, let me know. It's short; the 750-word limit is a real factor in the contents.

The Duffer [:-sunglasses-:]



Posted By: MaccDuff | Posted on: Aug 10, 2007 - 4:24pm
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered



Crews,

I wanted to thank you for your invaluable, first-hand information on the operation of PT crews. The article has finally been published. You can read it yourself here:

http://www.stsc.hill.af.mil/crosstalk/2008/02/0802BackTalk.html

I hope I properly captured the essence of the crew's interaction.

Thank you all you WW2 vets!

The Duffer



Posted By: MaccDuff | Posted on: Feb 5, 2008 - 5:33pm
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered