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Robert Ballard, Dwight Coleman  

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Underwater archaeology; PT-109  

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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
18 May 2002

    Geography
  • Solomon Islands
    Western
    Locality
  • Gizo
    Latitude/Longitude
  • -8.11   156.84
    Recording TimeCode
  • :28 - 36:04
    Geography
  • Solomon Islands
    Western
    Locality
  • Near Gizo; Aboard ship
    Latitude/Longitude
  • -8.11214   156.905488
    Recording TimeCode
  • 36:04 - 1:25:35
    Channels
  • Mono
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Two-Track Mono; Electrovoice RE50 Dynamic Omni Microphone

Show: PT109
Log of DAT #: 1
Engineer: n/a
Date: 5/18/02

BB = Bob Ballard
D = Dwight Coleman
DR = Dale Ridder
NC = Neal Conan

ng = not good
ok = okay
g = good
vg = very good

outside hotel in Gizo - night ambi on a moon-less night

00:40 - 3:11 very faint birds - NG - a faint motor (?) in the bg - roosters¿.NG

3:12 - 8:22 very faint crickets (?) and roosters - NG - someone walking in the ater? Faint splashing, and birds chirping, people talking

8:23 - 12:07 moaning - very faint - and talking in bg NG

12:08 - 12:35 NC - this is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. 60 years ago this was a scene of a -

12:36 faint lapping of waves and a rooster in the bg

13:42 - good but very faint bird

13:46 - NC - this is Neal Conan. It is dawn in Gizo, on the Solomon Islands. 60 years ago this remote place was the source of a -

14:08 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo on the Solomon Islands one of the remotest places on earth 60 years ago these -

14:22 - 14:47 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the Solomon Islands, one of the most remote places on earth. 60 years ago this was the scene of a desperate struggle, and about 2 miles from here out on those waters one the seminal events of American political history took place. Join me and underwater explorer Bob Ballard on the next RADIO EXPEDITION in search of John F. Kennedy's PT109, tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition

14:47 - good birds at tail of above promo (some footsteps too)

15:19 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo, one of the most remote places on earth, but 60 years ago, this area was the scene of a desperate struggle btwn Japan and the US during the second world war, and about 2 miles out on these waters 15:37 - he stops -

15:52 This is Neal Conan this place was the

16:14 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo the remote Solomon islands. 60 years ago this place was the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war, and about 2 miles from here, right on these waters¿.. 16:30

16;31 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. 60 years ago this remote place was the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war, and about 2 miles past the straight here - he stops

16:51 - 17:03 good ambi (gentle waves)

17:04 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the Solomon Islands, one of the most remote places on earth, but 60 -

17:13 - 17:24 good ambi - good bird

17:25 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo, one of the most remote places on earth. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and 2 miles from here one of the legendary events of American political history. 17:42

17:43 - ambi in the area

17:56 This is Neal Conan. - same as above then - stops

18:19 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo, in the remote Solomon Islands. 60 yrs ago this was the scene of a desperate struggle, and 2 miles from here on this straight, one of the legendary events of American political history happened. Join underwater explorer Robert Ballard - stop 18:36

18:37 ambi in area - some faint talking

19:08 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo, one of the most remote places on earth. 60 yrs ago this was the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war, and a critical moment in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITION join underwater explorer Bob Ballard on the search for PT109. 19:28

19:37 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo, in the remote Solomon Islands. 60 yrs ago this was the scene of a desperate struggle in the second world war, and a critical event in American political history. In the next RADIO EXPEDITION underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition. 19:58

19:59 - 20:12 ambi in area of interview

20:13 It is dawn on the island of Gizo, in the remote SI -

20:33 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo, in the remote Solomon Islands. 60 yrs ago this was the scene of a desperate struggle in the second world war, and a critical event in American political history -

20:56 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo, in the remote Solomon Islands. 60 years ago these Pacific waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical event in American political history. Join underwater explorer Robert Ballard on the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS in search of JFK's PT109. tomorrow on NPR's ME.

21:33 - ambi in area

21:44 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle - stop

22:04 - 22:11 ambi in area

22:11 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical moment in American political history. Underwater explorer Robert Ballard searches for =

ambi

22:44 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical moment in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109 that is Monday on NPR's Morning Edition. 23:06

23:07 - 23;16 ambi in area

23;17 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle and a critical moment in American political history =

ambi

23:51 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical moment in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. That's on Morning Edition from NPR News. 24:13

ambi

24:30 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical moment in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition. 24:53

24:54 - 25:25 ambi

25:25 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and of a critical moment in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS -

25:56 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and about 2 miles from here a critical moment in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS Robert Ballard, the underwater explorer goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109 that is tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition. 26:25

26:31 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and of a critical moment in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Join us, tomorrow, on NPR's Morning Edition. 26:52

ambi

27:19 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific -
27:29 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition. 26:51

28:00 It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world -

28:18 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Join us tomorrow, NPR's Morning Edition. 28:42

29:03 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war -

29:27 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and -

ambi

29:56 - someone shouting in the bg

30:15 - NG

30:39 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and about 2 miles from here the scene of a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Join us - NG

31:20 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and - NG

31;45 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Join us on NPR's Morning Edition. 32:08

32:08 - 32:53 good bird ambi - but singing in bg too

32:53 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and of a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. Join us tomorrow, NPR's Morning Edition. 33:15

33;15 good ambi with birds but people talking too

33;30 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109.

34:03 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and of a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. NG Join us tomorrow, NPR's Morning Edition 34:27

34:42 This is Neal Conan. It is dawn on the island of Gizo in the remote SI in the South Pacific. 60 yrs ago these waters were the scene of a desperate struggle during the second world war and a critical event in American political history. On the next RADIO EXPEDITIONS underwater explorer Robert Ballard goes in search of John F Kennedy's PT109. NG, but this is good -> Join us Monday, on NPR's Morning Edition 35:06

35:06 - 36:03 nice ambi - some talking

36:05 NC - This is RE 50, we are on the boat

36:13 boat ambi: bg talking - off mic, faint beeps, someone whistling, motor buzz, "hey sweetie smile!"

38:44 someone with a New England accent - this is off mic, but could be usable if need be: see those things he has got over in the corner there, like on that last screen over - those area all possible targets there (a woman says: "oh") - yeah. He looks over at them on this screen and if he sees something he likes he puts it over on that screen, and then eventually they will go back and check those out with those vehicles - he will eliminate if they get too many of them he will say well this one may be one - see he is flipping through them right now -

39:12 BB - you are fairly good size now

39:15 D this is ah - you should be able to get a measurement on this - it is ah -

39:27 DR I say they were using 2000 pounders on some of their ship attacks - those that show up - those would come across as your palette ? or cinder block 39:43

39:53 ?? it is only about 2 meters across - that object right there?

DR OK - that is too big - well, length - that's too big for a bomb, well that got to be about right for a 2000 pounder

?? it's got to be 84"

D - it could be sitting in a crater or something like that too -

DR - yeah - that would be the right length for a 1000 pounder - ok, that tells me what we probably pick up with the wide search 40:22

40:21 D then in contrast I can show you some of the other - this object here is about -

off-mic

40:46 D - that is about 5 1/2 meters across - yeah, you get a much harder return off metal than you do off rock - this has a relief, you can see an acoustic shadow here - so you can actually measure that shadow and determine how high off the bottom it is 41:04

41:05 off-mic talking

41;30 D - that gave me a height of 3 meters off the bottom - it is probably geology then - yeah - probably a rock

41:42 DR - if we can pick up something the size of one thousand pound bomb, those torpedo tubes should show up like neon signs. At least the torpedo tubes. If they are still wood, the engines might not show up at all 41;55 it will be interesting to see. I can't find anything in literature as to survivability of wood at this depth. Old stuff yeah, but not anything recent.

42:09 D - hopefully we will see for ourselves - yea, I am very excited to do that.

42;18 BB - ok, let me sneak in there gentleman. 367 - ok, so it is coming up on you?

D A little bit - it is pretty flat right here.

BB - I see the nice, really subtle patterns of sediment movement - and drainage -

BB - ok, so we have got - 3.5 kilometers little over an hour to get to the line - and did you tell the captain the next line?

?? - yes - it is the one -

Ballard - I think we are ready to go to the prime area now - everything is pretty de-bugged, I think we are in the groove -

??- do you want to change the orientation of our lines or

Ballard - no - I think what we may do see is shorten the legs back here shorten and compress the ones down here - I think if we can find the stern then there is no reason to be searching over here at all bc there there is no chance the bow is north of Kennedy Island. Bc that is where it was last seen drifting south. 43:42 so I think do the survey up where we think the bow is - or the stern - and then move down by Ferguson passage where it was last seen 43:53

44:03 Ballard - oh, the hole deepening

off mic talking¿..

44:37 Ballard - ok, this is 0-300 meters and this is the 100 kilohertz low freq. So this has got the greatest reach. So there is the vehicle, there is the altitude which is 44 meters off the deck - and a depth to the vehicle of 355, so, add those together and you get water depth - so you get 400 meters of water - here we are proceeding down the line, and they are doing a very good job of staying on the line 45:12 they are doing a very good job of staying on the line - and we are doing a little over 2 knots, and we like to sit around 2 1/2 - we don't like to go so fast that we are smearing our pixels - we want to keep as many scans - so it is a balancing act btwn covering territory and making sure you saw what you covered.

How much overlap btwn each leg? (askied by TV person?)

45:45 Ballard - ah, what do you think

?? - 300 meter swaff ¿

45:50 Ballard - our biggest concern - that is just a multiply. This is the real bottom that is an articfact. Now, the main issue is

talk about time sequence and length

46:21 Ballard - see one of the problems here is that we are missing our nadir¿.46:33 so what we are going to do is our initial coverage - and if we don't get our initial coverage we will then interlace to pick up our nadirs. 46:42

and width of the the nadir -

Ballard - it is 100 meter dead zone smack dab right here.

46:57 ?? but we are tracking the sub bottom so if we went over something we would see it

Ballard - and generally even if you don't quite go over it you are going to get a side echo on it - so you will see it on this - so that is why to do your nadirs you are really blowing a lot of time 47;14 so you are taking a risk initially that it is not passing underneath you. Butif you finish the box, and it isn't there then you have to go fill your nadirs. 47:26

47:27 ?? - now what is giving you the shadow

47:29 BB - this guy? Probably bouncing off - didn't you just raise the vehicle? So this is really a surface impact -

?? a mirror image of the sea floor, so this is bouncing off -

47:43 - so this tends to be the opposite of what that is -

47:48 ?? so do you feel then that the type of bottom is changing so that you are not getting that reflection

?? no, I think it is still there - it is just coinciding with our -

47:58 BB - well that is just artificial, you could just skew that - we don't really care about the sub bottom. If the PT109 is buried then forget it.

?? Frankly, this is volcanic sediment - so it is hard to penetrate.

48:15 BB - so this is really an altimeter - and but you can see - we are getting very subtle features - so we are getting excellent side scan, and something like the bow or the stern should pop out. But there are areas that we have come into that are nasty and that always makes you nervous when you go into an area that is really ugly. Could it be there? Well of course it could. 48:43 I would say 80 to 90% of the bottom is nice, easy, low - high signal to noise (lots of talking in bg) 48:52

49:04 BB - we have a running inventory - we have 19 targets - they are in a library we can call them up at will, but what we will do - we won't bother with that until we finish our coverage which will be about 2 1/2 , 3 more days - until we are running into reefs - we will probably replay all of our data

49:34 ?? we will replay all of our data on this computer and verify all of our targets probably¿

BB - we can scan very fast - we can crank this up and go very fast - and what we tend to do bc no one person has seen all of the data bc of the watch shifts - and sometimes there are people with more experience on a watch than others. Dwight and I will sit and look at everything, and then look at every target and then based upon that pick who we will dive on. So based upon that we will do a complete re-analysis of this - when - see when we pull the fish, they have to switch over to the other vehicle systems and they have to do new terminations. There is a down time of a good half day. And that is when we say we are switching out from the sonar vehicles to the optical vehicles, and while they are going through that evolution we are going to do a complete - bc we can run this bc it is a digital data base we can run it very very rapidly. We can look at every target and then we can say, ok, this one, this one, this one. And then you lay that out - and how the targets play out on your screen you set your lines. So you have a target here - ¿ ¿¿..more talk here¿. 51:08 so, we are in the groove. Great weather, small bucket of water, but it is also a very small target, especially if the wood is gone it is a very small target.

Talk about shadows¿.no shadows¿.

51:44 BB - so, going well. What do we have here?

51:51 ambi - talk off mike - in the ship office¿

51:54 BB - too small. Small.

BB talk with Dwight?

52:36 BB - all right. Looking good.

52:49 ambi in area - talk in area - inside ship office

talk with Neal and BB about the night¿..and the dancers¿.

54:11 NC - can you show me where we are on the chart over there?

54:16 BB - right about - there is Kennedy Island, so right now we are north east of Kennedy Island, headed down towards Ferguson passage. And we will get down pretty close to Ferguson passage and then we will bail out bc the bottom starts roaring out at us. And then we are going to head further up north to really the Blackett Straight proper. And then we think that is where the destroyer ran over PT109. so we are headed the next several hrs to where we think it is. 54: 54

54:54 ambi in area

55:10 BB (in response to someone asking if they are going to do Ferguson passage) - we are going to do this one later - we are really trying to get comfortable with the ship - they have never towed our vehicle, and we have never used them, and Ferguson Passage could have a screeching current, and we had trouble last night with a current that was really pulling us. It has GPS, but it doesn't have DP .. so it's got twin screws aft, no bow thruster. But they've been doing a great just of staying on the line, so I'm happy, and they've been keeping their speed just how we want it, so all in all¿. We're waiting to see if the tide changes, and we start encountering some of the problems we had last night, ro if it was just "getting to know one another" problems.

56:02 NC
how big is the box and how did you know where to put it?

56:04
well you're bound by a north, south, east, and west, are bound by an island. And the pt-boat is a boat and so it's gotta be in the water. So, really it's not a very large area. I think our total search area is 35 square miles, we've got 7 miles by 5 miles, and 35 square miles compared to titanic - was 150 , Bismarck was 250, Yorktown was 350, so this is really by our standeards a very small box, and by our standards a very shallow box about 3500 feet deep. But the big thing is that it's also a very small target, and that's the bugaboo. If the titanic, Bismarck, or Yorktown sunk here, iwe would fin dit in a day, but they weren't here, we're looking for a pt-boat. What we don't know is hwat whappened with the wood. We know from all our experience that wood bores are like termites - in the case of the titanic they hate the deck, they ate the staircase - all the roman ships, all the Phoenician ships, they eat the wood! And this is a well oxygenated are,a nd there's plenty of wood, coconuts and everything going to the bottom, so there should be a well established wood boring community. Here where we're hunting. The main difference is that president kennedy's pt-109 was made of mahongany, and our experience with mahogany is that wood bores don't eat mahogany. But it's a very limited experience - they didn't eat the mahogany on the titanic, that's our experience - and also it was laminated, had a particular kind of chemicals¿ so we don't know . we cetianly know that the anti-aircraft gun, machine guns, the anti-tank gun, the torpedo, torp launchers, depth charges, there's a LOT of metal and we should see them ringing out to us. The big questions is going to be is how much relief it has. It should be a very hard target and it should show up, unless we're in a very rugged mountainous area - and parts of the search area are volcanic, so that means it's going to be hard to pick out one hard thing sittin on a hard thing. We'd love it to be right where we are right now where there's a very gentle muddy bottom where the wreckage of t pt boat would stand out.. so I hope we get lucky.

58:52 NC
how much are you basing this on naval records, and how much are you basing it on the recollections of the people here?

58:59 BB
well I think it's all of the above. We've been taking oall of that information in, and it's also just being out here. I've been standing out, now that the sun came out and we could actually see - when we deployed last night, it was pitch black, it was just like the night that Kennedy was run over , we couldn't see anything, it was black black black¿ but once the sun came up, just like for him, you start to see the lay of the land. And yous tart to say oh, there's Kennedy island, and if I were him, la dee dah¿ but more importantly I'm trying to pu my head in the mind of the Japanese skipper of the destroyer, because it was he who ran over - because Kennedy didn't know where he was. Really¿ but htat jap skipper knew where he was, so you know he had just done the Tokyo express that night, they had just offloaded 600 jap soldiers, tons and tons of supplies, and he wanted to get out before the sun came up, because he's goin to get attacked. As soon as the sun's come up, planes out of Henderson field, US are going to be in the air after him. So if I'm in a hurry, I'm going to cut the corner pretty close, and so I'm trying tput myself in his head - and so I think he came around here, ducked around this corner here, and hit Kennedy about here. (asked about amigiri) They don't have that kind of information; he's just dr.ing, and running like crazy, full speed. He had no navigation that would give him that precise of information.

1:01:00 NC
that's why he was there, but why was Kennedy there?

1:01:01 BB
to stop him. 25 pt boats came in because there was us forces in the slot proper to the north, and the japs guessed that and they wanted to avoide the larger force which were largers and superior in firepower. And so theyr'e going to come down here, and yes pt boats are a pain, but they're not superior in firepower. This was a way around the forces up in the slot itself. A very smart move. Obviously a good skipper and knew what he was doing.. (?) well, that is very difficult to maneuver in. you're going to run aground. Very tihgt, just go outside and look around. You're completely surrounded yb land, and refs, and they're not well charted. For a ptboat with a shallow draft that's no problem - but a cruiser or even destroyers, that's minimum maneuvering room. The destroyers were obviously taking a risk, but they weren't maneuvering they were just dead-heading. And so they picked a pretty safe.. in the channel, and knew where they were going and had done it several times.

1:02:20
would you want to drive through there at top speed with no radar in the pitch dark night?

1:02:25
well no, but I think if I had done enough, and I knew someone was trying to shoot me, I'd probably get that extra determination. It's funny how when someone is trying to shoot you, you reach down and find something.

1:02:46 D
see, the main problem with the way we were running our cruiser destroyer forces, which we were putting up in the slot was ¿ to avoid friendly fire problems, which we were having in solomen islands and guad., we'd run everything in a column, so we'd have column of seven or 8 ships¿
1:03:20
ambi.. voices and mumbling

¿.

1:04:05
basically what they were doing was, to avoid the problem of friendly fire casualties, which I know happened down in solomen island area, guadal. They were running the cruiser destroyer forces with half the destroyers in front, then the cruisers, then the rest of the destroyers. So typically you'd have a column with 2 to 4 desroyers in front, 3 to 4 light cruisers following them in column, and then 2 to 4 in the back. With 700 yards between the destroyers and 1000 yards between the cruisers. That is a long chain of ships. You can't operate that in congested waters like that here, you can't operate it in valley gulf, maybe kula gulf, or the slot, but not here, it's too congested. And if you did that here, you're gonna be on top of the Japanese destroyers and their torpedoes. We learned very expensively how good the Japanese destroyers are here. They really did a job on us. But because we kept running cruiser/destroyer task forces up here, every night, the Japanese figured out they came through vula gulf. And they finally learned not to do that on aug. 6th, when we finally turned the destroyers loose from the cruisers. And then with the smaller shorter columns they could operate in vela gulf, and then we pulled off one of the best destroyer ambushes before we even knew we were there. They were blowing up.

1:05:53 NC
tell me about the pt patrols, their purpose, and something about the quality of the pts themselves.

1:06:02
the purpose of the pts that night was to intercept the Tokyo express. Because of the closeness of the islands, and at that time our aircover was operating out of Henderson field, a field on the russel islands to the north, and they were just finishing up the segui point airstrip, it took a long time for our airplanes to get here - so you had a window from sunset to a couple hours after sunrise to run stuff in and out, but we really couldn't go after it, and they didn't want to put cruiser and destroyer columns in the gulf. Finally the destroyer skippers got their way and got ut loose from the cruisers, and then tey could aoperate in ther. But the only ship we could put in blackett straight at that time was the pt-boats. Their job, and there was 50 of them deployed that night in 4 separate groups, was to tattack and try and take out some of the Japanese ships. The problem with the pt boats that night was that only 4 of the pt boats had radar. The 4 boats that had radars effectively attacked the destroyers. Nobody else could see anything. The boats without the radar, when they were opened fire upon, they were unsure whether it was a destroyer or if it was gunfire from kolombangara. As for the quality of the pts¿ (*sniffling*) they had demonstrated in the guad. Area that they could effectively harass Tokyo expresses. They sank a couple of destroyers out there, they harassed the daylights out of the Japanese so that the destroyer skippers wanted to keep moving at reasonably high speeds, which is why they used the cargo drums to toss off. The Japanese did not like them, the Japanese did not have radar.. now the thing with the pt boat, at a high speed at this area they are going to be noticeable with the phosphorescent wake. The mission was go in at low speed, wait and try and spot them before they spotted you, hopefully you'd be in a position to launch an attack, attack, and THEN hit the engines and blast out of there. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't , they didn't' hit that much, but they harassed the daylights out of the Japanese and the Japanese didn't like that. Their idea was when they were hitting us down the slot, they'd use the destroyers to destroy the cruisers. Like at tessa-faraunga when they took out four heavy cruisers using one. Now the situation has changed. They have the high-value targets, the destroyers, we were going after them with pt boats that cost about 250000 a piece with an 11 man crew. We were going after a valuable commodity of the Japanese Navy, and a lot of them sunk here. With the armament, there are complaints in the books about the lack of stopping power with the torpedoes¿ the torpedoes had about the same warhead that all the other nations had on theirs. You can't put a big warhead on a big torpedo on a patrolling torpedo boat - it slows it down - the British used aircraft torpedoes with 388 - 450 lb warheads, we used mark 8 with 460 lb warheads. The germans used a 500 lb warheads. The reason they were complaining about lack of stopping power.. they were thinking¿ these torps designed in wwi for wwi targest. You hit a 1200 ton destroyer and it stops, and probably starts sinking. They were shooting at 2000 to 2500 ton destroyers - that takes a lot more hits to stop. You basically have to figure you have to hit it with two to be sure you stop it. and they didn't have a real sophisticated firing system, you just point the bow towards it and fire, and hope you have enough lead. And they weren't fast torpedoes, either.

1:10:25 NC
about 28 knots

1:10:28
well..28, 27, it depends on how good the engines were maintained. The speed would vary.

1:10:37 NC
Destroyers would routinely go over 30.

1:10:38 D
that's why you have to get in the front and lead them. If you're at a 90-degree angle with a destroyer, you're not goin to hit him. You have to be at a 90 degree angle in front of him. And that's here radar comes in. if you've got a mark 8 and you're eyeballing, you're out of luck. Now the guys who've got destroyer targets down in gaud, either they caught them while they were pretty much stopped, or they were in the right place at the right time. And the other thing is, since the japs were starting to run barges, that's when they ha to make a choice between torps and firepower for the barges, and Kennedy's putting that 37mm gun on the bow was the fist attempt to deal with that. That gae a lot more punch than the 50s or the 20s they had already discovered in july, o the other side of new Georgia, that a jap landing barge could soak up a lot of hits from a 50 calibers and keep going. The jap landing barges were very good, very sturdily built, and they started having their fair amount of firepower as well. In that case the landing barge has the edge. The pt is carrying 2000 gallons of 100 octane aviation gas - you hit that with an incendiary and you get a fireball you don't even want to think about - that's why a lot of pt boats crews survived but were badly burned. A landing barge typically carries diesel fuel with the tanks thoroughly protected - they can soak up 50 cal all day. There were cases in new guinea of pt boats getting to within 10 feet of a landing barge with their 50 caliber machine guns and still not taking it down - that's why they went with the 37 mm. Later on, because anti-tank guns are heavy, they switched to the 37mm automatics cannon that they carried on the p39 fighters, initially they took them straight out of the pt39s, but eventually they made them for the use on the pts, that was a much lighter gun, and a slightly lighter shell. The 37mm automatic gun on the p39 weight a shell of 1 1/3 lbs, the shell on the anti-tank gun weight just about 2 lbs. So it did a lot more damage, and so there was a trade-off of firepower and weight, and because the bow of the pt boat had to raise for planning, you had to go with the lighter gun and go with the slightly reduced punch.

1:13:31 NC
what was the pt like as a gun platform? It couldn't' have been very stable¿

1:13:35 D
no, but that's why you had automatic weapons on it - basically you established your line of sight, had your ________ on the target, and once you had them on the target it was surprising how well they could keep them there because they used the motion of the boat to work with you in stabilizing it. there were examples of some very accurate shooting done by pt boats. Once you had a gunner that knew what he was doing.. the other thing is, remember, the pts that Kennedy was on, they were basically a squad sent by panama up to tulagi, then up to rendova.. but really, the actions of aug 1st and the week before, that was their first exposure to fire. They were fairly green. When you look at how they performed, vs the initial performances of the pt crews in guad, you see the same pattern, there's a learning curve there - and kennedy and his crew never got a chance to complete the learning curve because they got knocked out so fast.

1:14:56. BB
where they blew up two torpedoes in 1987, and that gives us this area¿. Report of a flash..

1:15:15 NC
can we get just 30 seconds of the sounds of the room? It sounds ridiculous

1:15:20
low rumbling, a few voices

1:16:10
we're staying on the re50, first of all we'll record some room tone, this is the control area, where we were listening earlier to Ballard

1:16:29
a few sonar beeps, distinguishable voices, the sound of engines

1:19:03
what is that nice little beep?

1:19:04 AC
that is the echo

(setting up recording)

1:19:30
ambi, clear sound of "beeping," voices in background, explanations of beeps/lights to NC
1:21:42
louder rumbling noise

1:21:44
this is now mid-deck ambi, outdoors

1:22:06
louder noise, more rattly, voices drowned out
1:24:00
grinding noise

1:24:07
FX - sound of something being dropped

1:25:18
okay we'll get the aft deck and the insulator

1:25:25
¿ rumbling, voices laughing

end of dat

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