Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the Webmaster. Please take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible.

NavSource Online:
Motor Torpedo Boat Photo Archive

PT-121

Destroyed 27 March 1944

80' Elco Motor Torpedo Boat:

  • Laid down 25 April 1942 by the Electric Boat Co., Elco Works, Bayonne, NJ
  • Launched 25 July 1942
  • Completed 27 August 1942, placed in service and assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron SIX (PTRon 6) under the command of Lt. Comdr. Clifton B. Maddox, USN
  • PTRon 6 arrived in the South Pacific in time for its boats to participate in some of the last actions with the Tokyo Express at Guadalcanal. Later it had action at Rendova, Vella Lavella, Treasury, Bougainville, Green, and Emirau.
    After its transfer to the Southwest Pacific in May 1944, the squadron was decommissioned and its boats were distributed to replenish other squadrons which had suffered operational losses. PT's 119-122, with PT's 113 and
    114 of PTRon 2, were designated Motor Torpedo Boat Division SEVENTEEN (PTDiv 17) and were sent to the Southwest Pacific in December 1942. PTDiv 17, under command of Lt. Daniel S. Baughman, USN was th
    first PT unit to operate in New Guinea waters. It was absorbed by Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron EIGHT (PTRon 8) on 1 April 1943
  • Transferred 1 April 1943 to PTRon 8 under the command of Lt. Comdr. Barry K. Atkins, USN
  • PTRon 8, assigned to the Southwest Pacific, had action in New Guinea waters at Tufi, Morobe, Kiriwina, and Aitape; at Rein Bay and Talasea on New Britain, and in Philippine waters at Mindoro, Zamboanga, and Tawi Tawi. The
    squadron based for a time at Kana Kopa, Dreger Harbor, and Mios Woendi, New Guinea , and at San Pedro Bay in the Philippines, but had no action at these bases
  • The "Snafu" was destroyed by Australian aircraft 27 March 1944 north of New Britain in Papua, New Guinea.

    Specifications:

  • Displacement 56 t.
  • Length 80'
  • Beam 20' 8"
  • Draft 5'
  • Speed 41 kts.
  • Complement 17
  • Armament: One 40mm, four 21" Torpedoes and two twin .50 cal. machine guns
  • Propulsion: Three 1,500shp Packard W-14 M2500 gasoline engines, three shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    PT-121 134k The two unusual aspects of its marking are the black hull number and the boat's nickname, "SNAFU", which were seldom applied. The forward ports are painted over for blackout purposes. The running lights (beside the open side port) were often disconnected to prevent them from being accidentally turned on Robert Hurst

    Loss of PT-121 and PT-353:

    On the morning of March 27, 1944, Lt. Crowell C. Hall, USNR, executive officer of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron TWENTY FIVE, in PT 353 (Ens. George H. Guckert, USNR), with PT 121 (Ens. Richard B. Secrest, USNR), was trying to thread a way through New Britain's reefs to Ewasse, in Bangula Bay, to investigate a reported enemy schooner. At 0745, four P-40s of 78 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force operating out of Kiriwina, flew over and Lieutenant Hall asked them by radio to investigate the schooner. The planes complied, and reported it had been strafed previously and was no longer a worthwhile target. No sooner had the boats turned to leave than they were attacked by four other P-40s of 78 Squadron and a Beaufighter of 30 Squadron RAAF. A second Beaufighter recognized the PTs and throughout the attack attempted to call off the other Beaufighter by radio and to maneuver to head off the P-40s.

    No order to open fire was given on either boat. After the planes made several runs, gunners on the PT 353 fired seven or eight rounds of 40 mm and five rounds of 37 mm, and those on the PT 121 fired seven rounds of 20 mm and three short bursts of .50 caliber gunfire. Lieutenant Hall on the PT 353 and Ensign Secrest on the PT 121 stopped the firing immediately. Both boats burned, exploded, and sank, except for a portion of the bow of the PT 121. Shortly after the attack, two P-40s of the group that had investigated the schooner returned. They dropped a liferaft to the survivors and sent in a radio report of the tragedy. Five hours later, a P-40 guided PT 346 and PT 354 to
    the survivors.

    Four officers and four enlisted men were dead; four officers and eight enlisted men were wounded; two PTs were completely destroyed.

    In part, the losses were caused by a failure in communication. The message reporting the intended movements of PTs had been placed in the wrong file at 78 Squadron headquarters, so the pilots had not been told that PTs would be operating in the area. In part, the losses were caused by failure of the pilots to recognize the PTs. The first P-40s recognized them and gave them a helping hand. One Beaufighter in the second group recognized them and tried to stop the attack. The other pilots simply mistook them for enemy craft.


    Back To The Main Photo Index Back to the Patrol Craft/Gunboat/Submarine Chaser Index Back to the Motor Torpedo Boat (PT) Photo Index

    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster

    This page created and maintained by Joseph M. Radigan
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History