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Aircraft Carriers






Torpedo Boats

Liberty Ships

Foreign Warships

Warships Associated With
World War II in the Pacific


Torpedo Boats


PT Boat 796
PT Boat 796, exterior view of forward deck, Fall River, MA
(Photo by USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, 1985)

Name:PT Boat 796
Location:Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts
Owner:PT Boats, Inc.
Condition:Excellent, altered

Displacement:55 tons full load
Length:78 feet
Width:21 feet 6 inches
Range:~500 miles
Speed:44 knots maximum, varying with load and sea conditions
Machinery:3-1,550 HP Packard engines
Armament:2-Mark 13 torpedoes, 2-twin .50 caliber machine guns, 1-twin 20mm machine gun, 1-single 20mm machine gun, 1-single 40mm machine gun [1]

Builder:Higgins Company, New Orleans, Louisiana
Commissioned:July 1945


PT (Patrol, Torpedo) Boat 796 is a Higgins-type torpedo boat built for service in World War II. She was built by the Higgins Company in New Orleans, Louisiana, launched in mid-1945, and commissioned as a unit of PT Squadron 43 in July of that year. Like all American PT boats, 796 (nicknamed "Tailender") was constructed of mahogany and plywood and powered by three 1,550-horsepower Packard engines which used high-octane aviation gasoline as fuel.

PT 796 is in excellent condition and retains its World War II integrity.

PT Boats--General

PT boats, as they were known in World War II, were a British invention, adopted and used by the U.S. Navy. The idea of the PT boat was that of the small, fast--and ultimately, expendable--interdiction ship, armed with torpedoes and machine guns for cutting enemy supply lines, for harassing enemy forces, and for short-range oceanic scouting. American PT boats served during World War II in the Philippines and the Southwestern Pacific areas, in the English Channel, off Normandy, and in the Mediterranean Sea. [2]

There were 43 PT squadrons, with a normal complement of 12 boats. Some 300 PT boaters were killed in World War II, an extremely high loss rate for this comparatively small, elite service. [3]

PT boats were a significant American naval warship type in World War II. They were responsible for numerous enemy losses, in warships, materiel, and personnel. They spawned a number of offshoots - the Japanese "Shinyo" suicide boat; the fast, hydrofoil missile ships of today; and the numerous inshore patrol craft used by many navies of the 1980s. [4]


At the present time there are four extant PT Boats remaining. PT 617 is now under going restoration and will be displayed opposite PT 796 at Battleship Cove. PT 619 is in very poor condition in Memphis, Tennessee, and has lost most of its World War II integrity. Another PT Boat (Hull number unknown) is in Camp Wythycombe, Oregon, but this boat has no armament and is in need of additional restoration. PT 796, thus is the best representative of this class of warships. PT 796 is in excellent condition and retains her World War II integrity.

PT 796 is also the PT Boat that was used in President Kennedy's Inaugural Parade in January 1961, painted with the numerals "109".


1. USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, Inc. PT 796-Physical Description (Fall River, Massachusetts: USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, Inc., 1984), p. 1.

2. Ibid., p. 3.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.


Johnson, Frank D. United States PT Boats of World War II. Dorset, England: Blandford Press, 1980.

USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, PT 796. (Physical Description) Fall River,Massachusetts, 1984.


PT Boat 796 PT Boat 796 PT Boat 796

PT Boat 796

(click on the above photographs for a more detailed view)

SS Jeremiah O'Brien Continue


Last Modified: Fri, Aug 25 2000 12:00:00 pm PDT

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