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  PT-121 "Snafu"
USN
80' Elco

56 Tons
80' x 20' 8" x 5'
1 x 40mm
2 x Twin 50 cal MG
4 x 21" Torpedoes

Ship History
Built by Electric Boat Company (Elco) in Bayonne, NJ. Laid down April 25, 1942. Launched July 25, 1942. Completed August 27, 1942. Assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 6 (MTBS 6) under the command of Lt. Comdr. Clifton B. Maddox, USN.

On April 1, 1943 assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 8 (MTBS 8) under the command of Lt. Comdr. Barry K. Atkins, USN.

Wartime History
During late November 1942, towed behind a Liberty Ship with PT-122 from Cairns to New Guinea, then by a gunboat Tulsa on December 8, 1942 to Milne Bay arriving December 11, 1942.

On December 13, 1942 PT-121 and PT-122 were sent to Porlock Harbor to establish an advanced base. During the night of December 18-19, 1942 the two PT boats made their first combat patrol. They sighted a Japanese submarine I-4 surfaced off the mouth of Mambare River and fired two torpedoes that they thought hit but did not explode.

During the Battle of the Bismark Sea, the night of March 3, 1943 PT-121, PT-68, PT-149 and PT-66 approached the burning Oikawa Maru at slow speed which was on fire and appeared to be abandoned. PT-149 believed it observe a search light on the ship and fired one torpedo at the ship before it lost sight of the target and the ship sank.

Sinking History
On March 27, 1944 PT-121 with PT-353 were investigated a schooner, and were navigating the reefs at Ewasse in Bangula Bay near Talasea. Four RAAF P-40 Kittyhawks from 78 Squadron flying over the area confirmed via radio that the schooner was hit and no longer a target.

Later, four other RAAF P-40 Kittyhawks from 78 Squadron and a Beaufighter from 30 Squadron accidentally attacked the pair of PT-Boats. Another Beaufighter successfully identified the ships as friendly, but was not able to stop the attack. After they made several passes, PT-Boats returned fire, but the captains of each boat made them cease fire.  Both PT-Boats were hit, burned and sank.

Rescue
Shortly after the attack, the first group of P-40s returned to the area, reported the tragedy and dropped life raft.  Five hours later, other P-40s guided PT-346 and PT-354 to the site to look for survivors. A total of four officers and four enlisted men were KIA, four officers and four enlisted men were WIA. This was the first friendly fire incident in the South-West Pacific area of aircraft attacking PT-Boats.

References
At Close Quarters PT Boats, pages 171-174, 180, 232-233, 259, 457, 459, 46, 488
Navy Source PT-121

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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