PT 103 Class
80' x 20' 8" x 3' 6"
4 x torpedos
4 x 50 cal MG
37mm field gun (added)
Captain Lt(jg) John Fitzgerald Kennedy (rescued)
Crew Ensign Leonard Thom (rescued) Sandusky, OH
Crew Seaman 2nd Class Raymond Albert (rescued) Akron, OH
Radio John McGuire (rescued)
Gunner Raymand Starkey (rescued) CA
Gunner MOMM2c Harold W Marney, 2127352 (MIA / KIA) Chiopee, MA
Crew TM2C Andrew John Kirksey, 6366765 (MIA / KIA) GA
Crew Gerald Zinser (rescued)
Crew William Johnson (rescued)
Crew Charles Harris (rescued)
Crew Patrick "Pappy" McMahon (rescued)
37mm Ensign George Ross (rescued)
Sunk August 2, 1943 at 1:30am
Built July 1942 at Bayonne, New Jersey. Laid down on March 4, 1942, the seventh PT boat built at the facility. Delivered to the US Navy on July 10, 1942 and outfitted at the New York Naval Shipyard at Brooklyn.
First assigned to
PT Boat training center at Melville, Rhode Island. Ferried across the
transport ship to Noumea, then towed to Guadalcanal. John F. Kennedy
assumed command of her during April 1943.
On August 1, 1943 at 4:00pm departed Rendova as one of fifteen PT-Boats on an overnight patrol in the Kolombangara area. PT-109 patrolled with PT-157, PT-159 and PT-162 forming Division B.
Meanwhile, the "Tokyo Express" of Japanese destroyers including Amagiri made an overnight run to Vila delivering soliders and supplies. After completing their mission, the destroyers departed for
Rabaul. On August 2, 1943 at 1:30am while motoring in the Blacket
Strait, P-109 was rammed by Japanese destroyer Amagiri. The collision sank the PT-Boat and two of the crew died in the collision.
Survival And Rescue
The crew of PT-109 clung to the wreckage of the bow. Two
were killed in the collision. At dawn the remaining
crew swam to Plum
Pudding Island while Kennedy
towed McMahon who wa wounded
by his life vest strap in his teeth. Several days passed and the
men moved south to Nauro Island. Meanwhile, the sinking had been observed by coastwatcher
'Reg' Evans, who sent his
Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana to seach for any survivors. Kennedy trusted
them with a message, scratched into a coconut shell, that was delivered to
Evans. The surviving crew were rescued by PT-157 that transported them to Rendova.
Marney was officially declared dead on August 2, 1943. Kirksey was officially declared dead on August 3, 1944. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
During May 2002, Robert Ballard with Odyssey Enterprises for National Geographic searched for this shipwreck in the Blacket
Straight. At 1,200' (360m) a piece of wreckage was identified as a torpedo tube from a PT-Boat, and claimed to be from PT-109. Later, their findings were confirmed as "most likely" PT-109 by the USN.
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 57, 95, 101, 103, 120, 123-125, 452, 456, 486, 488
National Geographic "The Search For Kennedy's PT 109 (video)
Collision With History: The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT 109
National Geographic "JFK's PT-109 Found, U.S. Navy Confirms" July 11, 2002
National Geographic PT Boat torpedo tube (photo)
Navy Source - PT-109
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March 5, 2013