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  PT-37 (PTC-17)
USN
77' Elco




Ship History
Entered service July 18, 1941. Transferred to Squadron 3 on August 12, 1941. Transferred from Squadron 1 on August 13, 1941. Transferred to Squadron 3 on July 27, 1942. Shipped to Noumea on a merchant ship, then arrived at Tulagi on October 25, 1942.

Participated in a night patrol on November 8, 1942 captained by Lt(jg) Leonard A. Nikoloric. Spotting a Japanese destroyer, and fired two torpedoes at 500 yards then fired a third, before returning fire.

During the night of December 1-2, 1942 Lt(jg) Lester H. Gamble Four were in positions around Savo Island as a striking force near Savo Island: this boat plus PT-59, PT-44, PT-36. Advised of the approaching force by radio, deployed at 23:35, and approached five destroyers and a larger ship, but met heavy fire from the Japanese. PT-37 fired two torpedoes at the lead ship, but failed to observe any result. Although no damage was confirmed, the PT Boats disrupted Japanese operations.

During the night of December 11-12, 1942 Japanese destroyers made a "Tokyo Express" made a supply run off Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. Patrolling, PT-37 and PT-40 spotted Teruzuki at slow speed and successfully launched torpedoes causing an explosion that killed nine of the crew and left the destroyer dead in the water and over the next three hours, fires spread over the ship and reached the depth charges causing explosions that sank the ship.

Sinking History
On February 1, 1943 during the night, twenty Japanese destroyers steamed down the slot as part of Operation KE, the evacuation of their remaining troops from Guadalcanal. Attacked by two waves of fighters and bombers from Henderson Field at dusk, only one destroyer was damaged. The force approached Cape Esperance, covered by half a dozen patrol planes.

All available PT boats were sent to the Savo-Esperance area, including PT-37 under the command of Taylor with PT-47 were stationed two miles southeast of Savo. On the way to its patrol area, this boat was bombed and strafed by Japanese aircraft, but suffered no damage.

Spotting Japanese ships, PT-37 fired four torpedoes and turned away but was hit by gunfire from Kawakaze in the gas tanks and burned brightly. Only crew member survived, MM1C Eldon O. Jenter who was severely wounded and burned. Also sunk was PT-111.

During the same battle, PT-115 and PT-38 beached themselves on the western side of Savo Island and were later pulled off by PT-109. This was the most violent action the PT Boats participated in off Guadalcanal, and it was their last, as the Japanese completed their evacuation during the night of February 7-8, 1943.

References
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 59, 82, 95-96, 101, 103-104, 450-451, 484, 486, 488, 494
Navy Source PT-37 (photo)

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Last Updated
August 18, 2018

 

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