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  PT-44 (PTC-24)
USN
77' Elco

40 Tons
77' x 19' 11" x 4' 6"
2 x Twin .50 cal MG
4 x 18" torpedoes

Ship History
Built by by the Electric Boat Company in Bayonne, NJ. Originally planned as PT-44 but reclassified as a Motor Boat Submarine Chaser, PTC-24 then reverted to PT-44. Laid down May 17, 1941. Launched July 18, 1941. Completed July 30, 1941. Assigned to the U. S. Navy (USN) as PT-44 on July 31, 1941.

Wartime History
Assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron TWP (PTRon 2). During December 1941, one of eleven PT Boats assigned to Panama Canal Zone. During late 1942, one of twelve PT Boats shipped to the South Pacific and operated from Tulagi PT Boat Base.

During the night December 6-7, 1942 departed on a patrol under the command of Lt. Frank Freeland as part of a striking force with PT-59, PT-36, PT-37 plus PT-48 and PT-40. At 11:35pm, the other PT Boats spotted the enemy force of destroyers and a larger vessel and started their attack runs. PT-44 fired all four of her torpedoes then departed safely, claiming two hits. Afterwards, the enemy vessels retired to the north.

During the night of December 9, 1942 PT-44 with PT-59 patrolled three miles off Kamimbo Bay on Guadalcanal. Spotting a Japanese barge the pair opened fire. Next, lookouts aboard PT-59 spotted surfaced I-3. At 7:03am, PT-59 launched two torpedoes from 400 yards one of which hits the stern of the submarine. A geyser of water spouts high in the air, followed by a tremendous explosion. The second torpedo passed under PT-44.

During the night of December 11, 1942 PT-44 under the command of Lt. Frank Freeland with crew including Lt(jg) Charles M. Melhorn, Ensign John D. Chester and quartermaster Willard A. Crowe along with PT-110 were patrolling off Kamimbo Bay on Guadalcanal. Over the radio, they received a radio report of an enemy force between Cape Esperance and Savo Island.

Sinking History
After midnight on December 12, 1942 hit by gunfire from destroyers Kawakaze and Suzukaze and sunk into Iron Bottom Sound. Aboard, two officers and seven enlisted men were lost.

Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, Lt(jg) Charles M. Melhorn swam towards Savo Island reaching the beach between 7:30am to 8:00am. Afterwards, rescued by Lt. H. S. Taylor approximately an hour later as was another crew member.

References
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 59, 95-99, 452, 484, 486, 488, 561 (index)
Navy Source - PT-44 (photos)

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Last Updated
January 10, 2018

 

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