Shortly after August 1945, when the construction of four experimental PT boats was authorized, work was begun on several completely new designs that incorporated lessons learned in World War II. In 1951 the Navy accepted these boats -- the first post-World War II PT's. All of the boats had aluminum hulls, were powered by four Packard engines of considerably higher horsepower ratings than those used in the older boats, and had speeds in excess of 40 knots. Beyond these characteristics, however, the boats showed considerable variation.
PT 809, the first of the new boats to be tested, was built by the Electric Boat Co. It had a riveted hull which through the use of airframe construction principles was notably lightweight. The overall length of the boat was 98 feet and the maximum beam was 26 feet.
PT 810 was a Bath Iron Works (Bath, Maine) boat whose hull was partly riveted and partly welded. It was a shorter and broader boat than the rest, with dimensions of 89 feet in overall length and 24 feet at the extreme beam.
PT 811 was built by John Trumpy & Sons, Annapolis, Md. An all-welded boat, it was 94 feet in length and 25 feet in its maximum beam.
The last of the experimental boats, and also the largest, was PT 812. This boat was built by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and had an overall length of 105 feet and a maximum beam of only 21 feet. It had an all-welded hull with a shape designed to assure high speed in rough seas. However, its speed in calm water did not equal that of the other boats. The 812 was later equipped with gas turbines in lieu of its four Packard engines.
From 1954 to 1959, these boats operated as Motor Torpedo Squadron 1 under the Navy's Operational Development Force. They were thoroughly evaluated both from a tactical and material point of view.
As of 1962, the lessons learned from these boats, as well as their predecessors, continue to be of great value in the never-ending efforts of the Navy to maintain versatile and highly effective seagoing forces.
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