PT 658 – The Last Running PT Boat

The fascinating story of the last running World War II motor torpedo boat, the PT 658, an historic relic rescued, rebuilt and restored by a group of gray-haired ex-PT boaters.

Save the PT Boat

PT Boat 658

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19 Responses to PT 658 – The Last Running PT Boat

  1. Phil, Ohio says:

    Years ago is been said that Ernest Borgnine (McHale’s Navy) had one, but don’t know what become of it.

    By the way, he is still alive and still making movies:

    A chat with Ernest Borgnine
    2 days ago

  2. Rick says:

    Great to see that Ernest Borgnine is still around. About his “PT-73” from “McHale’s Navy”

    McHale’s Navy

    There were Three PT-73 boats. One was used for the shots at sea and two were converted 63′ WW II Army Air Force Sea Rescue Boats which were based at Universal studios. The vessels used for shots of the PT-73 under way was a 72-foot type II Vosper MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat), a British design built under license in the U.S. for export to Russia. The war ended in August 1945 before the boat, the real number of which was PT-694, could be sent to the Soviet Union. The boat was then purchased by Howard Hughes and used as a chase boat for the one and only flight of his Spruce Goose aircraft. The boat was then sold to the studio – as there were few other real PT boats left in existence at the time – and some liberties were taken in reconfiguring it to look like a PT Boat. Shots of the crew aboard the PT-73 were filmed on a full-scale mock-up in a soundstage.
    “PT-73” was later sold to the mayor of Hawthorne, California, Hal Crozer [6]and was converted to a sport fishing boat. In 1992 the boat was destroyed when it broke loose of its mooring near Santa Barbara and washed up on the beach during a storm.[citation needed]
    The real PT-73 was a 78-foot Higgins boat assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 13, which saw service in the Aleutians and in the Southwest Pacific theater. The real PT-73 did not have as illustrious a combat record as its fictitious counterpart. On January 15, 1945 it ran aground, and was destroyed to prevent it falling into enemy hands.

  3. Stephen Phelps says:

    When he was governor of New York, he was said to commute from New York City to Albany on a yacht that was a converted P.T. boat. I remember many times seeing a huge boat traveling at high speed up and down the river, so I never had cause to doubt the rumor that it was Rockefeller’s boat. In a brief Google-around today I can’t find any confirmation of the story, though, so now another of my cherished [sub]urban legends teeters on the edge of ruin…

  4. Rick says:

    Hey Steve. Laurance S. Rockefeller had a yacht named “Dauntless” that was often referred to as his PT boat because it had twin Packard PT-Boat engines. He used it to commute from Tarrytown to mid-Manhattan. I wonder if that was where part of the story came from. On the other hand if Laurence had one, why not Nelson?

    Design 621 – Commuter Yacht Dauntless

  5. Really enjoyed this video and the outstanding work done by these gentlemen. In 1960 while working for USSCo.NZ I did a couple of weeks volunteer naval reserve service in the RNZN Survey Branch. HMNZS Lachlin was the main survey vessel she was a WW2 frigate with the aft guns removed and replaced by a huge chartroom. She was assisted by two PT’s converted to inshore survey vessels, HMNZS Tarapunga & Takapu. I was fortunate to spend a couple of days in HMNZS Tarapunga surveying in the Bay of Plenty.
    Good Watch.

  6. Irwin Bryan says:

    Great story, Rick. I love your diversity, you never know what the next day will bring!

  7. Richard Mikus says:

    As for the Rockefeller story here is some info for you:

    Both Nelson and Laurance Rockefeller were into PT type boats. Nelson had an 80’ Elco PT boat that was bought and converted into a yacht after WWII. Her name was Dragon Lady and he used it to commute from Albany to NYC.

    Laurance however did not buy a PT boat from the military but had Dauntless custom made of aluminum with PT lines after the War. Laurance was a lieutenant commander in the Navy and he wanted to find ways to improve PT boats after the War. So Dauntless was created with the dual purpose of a private yacht and a prototype for the military possibly to determine if aluminum was a viable hull material. The yacht also boasted some high tech radar and gadgetry and it originally had the twin Packard PT engines aboard for high speeds. Laurance also used Dauntless to commute from Tarrytown to NYC.

  8. Jason says:

    Pt 658 is not the only running pt boat left,theres also a fully restored pt boat 728 based in kingston NY

  9. Would you be willing to donate her to the sea scout ship 5026? We could use her as atraining vessel for the kids that want to go navy when they reach the age limit, as we did.
    She would have to be on the East Coast or Gulf Coast as we are central Florida east coast.
    contact: Jonothan Bemis Skipper Ship 5026
    at the above e-mail

  10. Edd Vinci says:

    It blows me away and makes me smile as well as when you open this page the photo image given is that of my Dad that served on 3 PT Boats in THE South Pacific.This was a great day for our family as Mom & Dad took the whole family at that time to Portland to ride on the PT 658.Just watching him board the ship after not touching a PT Boat in 63 years or so,You could see the Momories almost overwhelm him.And then when he got into his old battle station as seen in this Photo at the start, it was priceless.He has lost his hearing over the years which date back to 1943 and the lack of ear protection when in battle.He was an Original in Ron 21 of which recieved the Presidential unit Citation.He served on PT 321 & 325 and in Ron 8- PT-142
    Paul J Vinci from Oakville-Waterbury,CT. Our hero turns 91 this Summer.

  11. Dear Richard Mikus or anyone who might be able to help,
    Nelson Rockefeller was my grandfather and I used to ride on his Elco 80 foot PT boat when I was a kid in Seal Harbor, Maine. A bunch of us grand-kids are wondering what happen to the Dragon Lady after our grandfather sold it and if she still exist. I have heard rumors it is still around but didn’t know if that was true. It was really beautiful and a lot of fun to be on!

    Thanks for any info that might be out there

  12. Rick Spilman says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t have much information. All I could find was an article about an 18 year old vandalizing Dragon Lady by painting “PT 109” on her bow back in 1962. There was also an article from The Tuscaloosa News – Sep 13, 1980 about a bar owner who collects signs. He claims to have the nameboards from the Dragon Lady, which suggests to me that she was scrapped at some point.

    I think Dragon Lady is often confused with the smaller Dauntless, built for Laurance S. Rockefeller, which was influenced by the PT boats and had PT boats engines but I think was aluminum.

  13. Bill Beyer says:

    I grew up on the Hudson most of my life,and as a boy spent a lot of time down by the water. We used to sneak one of the dinks that were at a dock at Tarrytown YC. Many times I remember seeing a pt boat tied up to the what is the fueling dock. The cove we rowed around in is now a parking lot. That was before they built that bridge and progress found Tarrytown.

  14. Bill Beyer says:

    I used to go with Kingston a lot by boat and only seeing a replica of a pt boat pulling into a dock, looked like it was taking passengers on a ride. It had the lines of a pt boat but not quite there. That was around the summer of 04.

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  16. Anthony says:

    Hello Rick, love the blog. I’m sorry to bust in on your comment page this way, but I am looking for some information. I was wondering if you had heard rumblings of a copy (digital or otherwise) of builders plans for an Elco 80. I am researching for a group of friends who are looking to build one from the keel up. My great uncle served on one during the war, and I spent many an hour in his study looking at pictures of his boat. It is a dream of mine (a man mission really) to take mine out in memory of Uncle Walt. Any information you might be able to provide would be helpful.

  17. Bob Morris says:

    I grew up on the foot of Parkview in Detroit, Mi. in the 1940s and 50s. I remember a converted PT named the Maryann docking at the DYC on Belle Isle during the summer. I think she came up from Fl. She was white with green trim. I also baby sat a boy named Roy Foote, whos dad Robert owned and lived on a PT boat. He and his wife were converting it. Little Roy fell off the boat in his stroller and drowned. Does anyone have any knowledge of either of these boats or the Foote family.

  18. RobertNash says:

    Don’t know if it’s still there but about 10 years ago there was a PT boat just outside Baytown, Tx that the owner was doing a very slow restoration on. It was located very close to Pyle Brothers Differential Service. Could be seen on a jig right off the highway.

  19. Mark says:

    State of Oregon HAS A RUNNING HIGGINS BOAT and OHIO has a Running ENGLISH SCOTT -PAINE ???? 2016 !!!!!