2007 Solomon Islands earthquake
The 2007 Solomon Islands earthquake took place on 2 April 2007, near the provincial capital of Gizo on Ghizo Island, in Solomon Islands. Its magnitude was estimated at 8.1 on the Mw scale, 7.8 on the Ms scale. The tsunami that followed the earthquake killed 52 people. According to the USGS, the earthquake was recorded around 7:39:56 a.m. local time. The focus was 10 km deep and 40 km South South-East of Gizo township on New Georgia Islands in Western Province. There were numerous aftershocks, the largest of which had a magnitude of 6.2. The Australia and Solomon Sea plates converge to the east-northeast or northeast against the Pacific plate with velocities of 90–105 millimetres/year. Along much of the plate boundary between the Pacific plate and the Australia/Woodlark/Solomon Sea plates, relative plate-motion is accomplished principally by subduction of the Australia/Woodlark/Solomon Sea plates beneath the Pacific plate; the earthquake's location and focal mechanism are consistent with the earthquake having occurred as underthrusting of the Australia/Woodlark/Solomon Sea plate beneath the Pacific plate, as part of the broader northeast-directed subduction process.
The length of faulting was estimated to be about 260±50 km. The Solomon Islands arc as a whole experiences a high level of earthquake activity, many shocks of magnitude 7 and larger have been recorded since the early decades of the twentieth century; the 2 April earthquake, nucleated in a 250 kilometre-long segment of the arc that had produced no shocks of magnitude 7 or larger since the early 20th century. A tsunami warning was issued for the South Pacific Ocean, advisories issued for Japan and Hawaii; the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning for Australia's eastern coast, from Queensland's Barrier Reef to Tasmania, beaches along the coast were closed, while many evacuated to higher ground. However, as the epicenter was close to the Solomon Islands, the tsunami hit before the Hawaiian Pacific Tsunami Warning Center released the warning; as high-magnitude ocean waves propagate at high speeds close to 25 meters per second, they traversed the 55-kilometer distance from the epicenter to Gavo in less than 20 minutes.
The S-waves from the earthquake shook the ground and alerted the population, allowing many to flee to high ground before the wave struck. From Honiara, one of the first warnings came from the People First Network's Simbo email station, situated close to the epicentre. PFnet's Technical Advisor David Leeming relates that 20 minutes after the earthquake, Nickson Sioni from Simbo came on the radio and announced the arrival of a huge wave that had washed away several houses and come inland about 200m; this information was passed on by telephone to the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center who upgraded their warning to an "expanding regional alert". This was achieved before the 35-minute arrival time of the wave for the capital Honiara, which in the event proved non-destructive. At least fifty-two people were reported to have been killed and sixty reported missing when a tsunami triggered by the earthquake struck the Solomon Islands, wiping out thirteen or more villages. Thousands were left homeless, damage is estimated in the millions.
The largest waves were reported on the northern tip of Simbo Island, where maximum tsunami run-ups were 12 m washing away two villages and Riquru, killing 10 people. In South Choiseul, waves 10 meters high swept away gardens and a hospital. About 900 homes were destroyed; the tsunami reached Papua New Guinea, with a family of five missing from a remote island in Milne Bay Province, in the tsunami's path. The beaches and ferry services at Sydney were closed due to tsunami alert. CAid workers reported. However, the UN reported that other diseases were under control as of 12 April. On 18 April, a measles outbreak was reported and an immunisation program was underway; the island of Ranongga in the New Georgia Group was lifted three meters by the earthquake, causing its beaches to shift outwards of up to 70 meters. Large coral reefs in the area are now above the surface and local fishermen are worried that the fishing grounds have been destroyed. However, Australian scientists said the exposure of the reefs are a normal part of island building and that careful wildlife management can preserve the reefs that remain.
Australia committed to contribute an initial 3 million AUD in emergency aid increased to 5.7 million as of June 2007. New Zealand gave 950,000 NZD during the initial relief period, committed 7.5 million NZD over two years to reconstruction, as of July 2007. The United States contributed US$250,000 in aid. Taiwan contributed shipment of 1,000 kg of rice. France has airlifted supplies via New Caledonia; the United Nations established a field hospital in Gizo, with a total of eight planned for the entire country, established three camps for internally displaced persons. Australian and Canadian medical teams have been deployed across the islands. Papua New Guinea, itself affected by the tsunami, has contributed US$340,000 and a light plane that can better access smaller, more remote airstrips. UNICEF issued an appeal for US$500,000 for Papua New Guinea. Separately, the Red Cross has issued an appeal for US$800,000; the remoteness of some villages meant that aid did not reach them until several days after the tsunami occurred.
However, the Associated Press reported on 6 April that Gizo's airport had reopened, easing the delivery of supplies. A Taiwanese fishing boat ran aground on coral reefs while delivering supplies, but it was evacuated by a United States Navy helicopter. T
A PT boat was a torpedo-armed fast attack vessel used by the United States Navy in World War II. It was small and inexpensive to build, valued for its maneuverability and speed but hampered at the beginning of the war by ineffective torpedoes, limited armament, comparatively fragile construction that limited some of the variants to coastal waters; the PT boat was different from the first generation of torpedo boat, developed at the end of the 19th century and featured a displacement hull form. These first generation torpedo boats rode low in the water, displaced up to 300 tons, had a top speed of 25 to 27 kn. During World War I Italy, the US and UK developed the first high-performance motor torpedo boats and corresponding torpedo tactics, but these projects were all disbanded with the Armistice. World War II PT boats continued to exploit some of the advances in planing hull design borrowed from offshore powerboat racing and were able to grow in size due to advancements in engine technology.
During World War II, PT boats engaged enemy warships, tankers and sampans. As gunboats they could be effective against enemy small craft armored barges used by the Japanese for inter-island transport. Several saw service with the Philippine Navy, where they were named "Q-boats", most after President Manuel L. Quezon. Primary anti-ship armament was four 2,600 pound Mark 8 torpedoes. Launched by 21-inch Mark 18 torpedo tubes, each bore a 466-pound TNT warhead and had a range of 16,000 yards at 36 knots. Two twin M2.50 cal machine guns were mounted for general fire support. Some boats shipped a 20 mm Oerlikon cannon. Propulsion was via a trio of Packard 4M-2500 and 5M-2500 supercharged gasoline-fueled, liquid-cooled marine engines. Nicknamed "the mosquito fleet" – and "devil boats" by the Japanese – the PT boat squadrons were hailed for their daring and earned a durable place in the public imagination that remains strong into the 21st century. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, W. Albert Hickman devised the first procedures and tactics for employing fast maneuverable seaworthy torpedo motorboats against capital ships, presented his proposal to Rear Admiral David W. Taylor, the Chief of the US Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair.
In September 1914, Hickman completed plans for a 50-foot Sea Sled torpedo boat and submitted these to the Navy in hopes of obtaining a contract. While favorably received, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels rejected the proposal since the US was not at war, but Hickman was advised to submit his plans and proposal to the British Admiralty, done the following month, his plan was promptly rejected by the Admiralty, so Hickman built and launched his own financed 41-foot Sea Sled capable of carrying a single 18" Whitehead Mark 5 torpedo. In February 1915, this Hickman sea sled demonstrated 35 kn speeds in rough winter seas off Boston to both US and foreign representatives but again, he received no contracts; the Admiralty representative for this sea sled demonstration was Lieutenant G. C. E. Hampden. In the summer of 1915, Lieutenants Hampden and Anson approached John I. Thornycroft & Company about developing a small high speed torpedo boat, this effort led to the Coastal Motor Boat which first went into service in April 1916.
Meanwhile, in August 1915, the General Board of the United States Navy approved the purchase of a single experimental small torpedo boat that could be transportable. This contract for C-250 ended up going to Greenport Basin and Construction Company, of Greenport, NY; when it was delivered and tested in the summer of 1917, it was not deemed a success, so a second boat of the sea sled design was ordered from Hickman in either late 1917 or early 1918. Using his previous design from September 1914 and the previous unsuccessful bid for C-250, the new boat C-378 was completed and tested just in time to be cancelled by the Armistice. With a full loaded weight of 56,000 pounds, C-378 made a top speed of 37 kn with 1400 HP, maintained an average speed of 34.5 kn in a winter northeaster storm with 12 to 14 foot seas, which would still be considered exceptional 100 years later. The Sea Sled would not surface again as a torpedo boat topic until 1939, but would continue to be used by both the Army and Navy as rescue boats and seaplane tenders during the 20s and 30s.
In 1922, the US Navy reconsidered using small internal combustion engine powered torpedo boats. As a result, two types of British Royal Navy Coastal Motor Boats were obtained for testing; the larger boat was used for experiments until 1930. In 1938, the U. S. Navy renewed their investigation into the concept by requesting competitive bids for several different types of motor torpedo boats, but excluded Hickman's Sea Sled; this competition led to eight prototype boats built to compete in two different classes. The first class was for 54-foot boats, the second class was for 70-foot boats; the resulting PT boat designs were the product of a small cadre of respected naval architects and the Navy. On 11 July 1938, invitations to builders and designers were issued with prizes awarded for the winning PT boat designs given out on 30 March 1939. In an important note after winning the design competition for the smaller PT boat, George Crouch wrote that Hickman's Sea Sled design would be far superior "in either rough or smooth water to that of the best possible V-bottom or hard chine design".
Earlier when Sea Sl
Honiara is the capital city of Solomon Islands, situated on the northwestern coast of Guadalcanal. As of 2017, it had a population of 84,520 people; the city is served by Honiara International Airport and the seaport of Point Cruz, lies along the Kukum Highway. The airport area to the east of Honiara was the site of a battle between the United States and the Japanese during the Guadalcanal Campaign in World War II, the Battle of Henderson Field of 1942, from which America emerged victorious. After Honiara became the new administrative centre of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate in 1952 with the addition of many administrative buildings, the town began to develop and grow in population. Since the late 1990s, Honiara has suffered a turbulent history of ethnic violence and political unrest and is scarred by rioting. A coup attempt in June 2000 resulted in violent rebellions and fighting between the ethnic Malaitans of the Malaita Eagle Force and the Guadalcanal natives of the Isatabu Freedom Movement.
Although a peace agreement was made in October 2000, violence ensued in the city streets in March 2002 when two diplomats from New Zealand and numerous others were murdered. In July 2003, conditions had become so bad in Honiara that the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, consisting of multiple Pacific nations under Australian leadership, was invited into the country by the Solomons Government to restore order. In 2006, riots broke out following the election of Snyder Rini as Prime Minister, destroying a part of Chinatown and making more than 1,000 Chinese residents homeless; the riots devastated the town and tourism in the city and the islands was affected. Honiara contains the majority of the major government institutions of Solomon Islands; the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Honiara Solomon Islands College of Higher Education, International School in Honiara and University of the South Pacific Solomon Islands are located in Honiara as is the national museum and Honiara Market.
Politically Honiara is divided into three parliamentary constituencies, electing three of the 50 members of the National Parliament. These constituencies, East Honiara, Central Honiara and West Honiara, are three of only six constituencies in the country to have an electorate of over 10,000 people. Honiara is predominantly Christian and is served by the headquarters of the Church of the Province of Melanesia, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Honiara, the South Seas Evangelical Church, the United Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and other Christian churches; the name Honiara derives from nagho ni ara which translates as "place of the east wind" or "facing the southeast wind" in one of the Guadalcanal languages. The town has not been extensively documented and little detailed material exists on it; the Battle of Henderson Field, the last of the three major land offensives conducted by the Japanese during the Guadalcanal Campaign of World War II took place in what is now the airport area about 11 kilometres to the east of the city centre.
During the battle, the US Marine and Army forces, under the overall command of Major General Alexander Vandegrift, repulsed an attack by the Japanese 17th Army, under the command of Japanese Lieutenant General Harukichi Hyakutake. The US forces were defending the Lunga River perimeter, which guarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, captured from the Japanese by the Allies in landings on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. Hyakutake's force was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces off of the island; the Japanese landed with 3,500 troops but the force soon grew to over 20,000 personnel in total equal to America's 23,000. From the top of Mount Austin at 410 metres, panoramic views of the north coastal plains and Florida islands, the battlefields of World War II can be seen; the Japanese had held this hilltop in the second half of 1942 and showered artillery fire on American troops at the Henderson airfield below the hill.
The hill was captured but the Japanese held on to the Gifu, Sea Horse, Galloping Horse ridges for about a month. Most of the Japanese died of banzai assaults or direct killing. Hyakutake's soldiers conducted numerous assaults over three days at various locations around the Lunga perimeter. Along the Matanikau River, the principal river flowing through what is now central Honiara, tanks attacked in pairs across the sandbar at the mouth of the river behind a barrage of artillery. Artillery, including 37 mm anti-tank guns destroyed all nine tanks. At the same time, four battalions of Marine artillery, totalling 40 howitzers, fired over 6,000 rounds into the area between Point Cruz and the Matanikau, causing heavy casualties in Nomasu Nakaguma's infantry battalions as they tried to approach the Marine lines. Both sides incurred heavy losses during the events of the overall battle the Japanese attackers. After an attempt to deliver further reinforcements failed during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942, Japan conceded defeat in the struggle for the island and evacuated many of its remaining forces by the first week of February 1943.
The Quonset hut built by the Americans can still be seen in the back lanes of the town and numerous memorials give testament to the war. Honiara became the capital of the British Protectorate of Solomon Islands in 1952; the infrastructure had been well developed by the US during the war which dictated the decision of the British Government to shift the capital to Honiara. Government buildings opened in Honiara from early January in 1952. Sir Robert Stanley was based at
Robert Duane Ballard is a retired United States Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, most noted for his work in underwater archaeology: maritime archaeology and archaeology of shipwrecks. He is most known for the discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in 1998, he discovered the wreck of John F. Kennedy's PT-109 in 2002 and visited Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, who saved its crew, he leads ocean exploration on E/V Nautilus. Ballard grew up in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California to a mother of German heritage and a father of British heritage, he has attributed his early interest in underwater exploration to reading the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, living by the ocean in San Diego, his fascination with the groundbreaking expeditions of the bathyscaphe Trieste. Ballard began working for Andreas Rechnitzer's Ocean Systems Group at North American Aviation in 1962 when his father, the chief engineer at North American Aviation's Minuteman missile program, helped him get a part-time job.
At North American, he worked on North American's failed proposal to build the submersible Alvin for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In 1965, Ballard graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning undergraduate degrees in chemistry and geology. While a student in Santa Barbara, California, he joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, completed the US Army's ROTC program, giving him an Army officer's commission in Army Intelligence, his first graduate degree was in geophysics from the University of Hawaii's Institute of Geophysics where he trained porpoises and whales. Subsequently, he returned to Andreas Rechnitzer's Ocean Systems Group at North American Aviation. Ballard was working towards a Ph. D. in marine geology at the University of Southern California in 1967 when he was called to active duty. Upon his request, he was transferred from the Army into the US Navy as an oceanographer; the Navy assigned him as a liaison between the Office of Naval Research and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
After leaving active duty and entering into the Naval Reserve in 1970, Ballard continued working at Woods Hole persuading organizations and people scientists, to fund and use Alvin for undersea research. Four years he received a Ph. D. in marine geology and geophysics at the University of Rhode Island. Ballard's first dive in a submersible was in the Ben Franklin in 1969 off the coast of Florida during a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution expedition. In summer 1970, he began a field mapping project of the Gulf of Maine for his doctoral dissertation, it used an air gun that sent sound waves underwater to determine the underlying structure of the ocean floor and the submersible Alvin, used to find and recover a sample from the bedrock. During the summer of 1975, Ballard participated in a joint French-American expedition called Phere searching for hydrothermal vents over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, but the expedition did not find any active vents. A 1979 expedition was aided by deep-towed still camera sleds that were able to take pictures of the ocean floor, making it easier to find the vent locations.
When Alvin inspected one of the sites they located, the scientists observed black smoke billowing out of the vents, something not observed at the Galápagos Rift. Ballard and geophysicist Jean Francheteau went down in Alvin the day after the black smokers were first observed, they were able to take an accurate temperature reading of the active vent, recorded 350 °C. They continued searching for more vents along the East Pacific Rise between 1980 and 1982. Ballard joined the United States Army in 1965 through the Army's Reserve Officers Training program, he was designated as an intelligence officer and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve. When called to active duty in 1967, he asked to fulfill his obligation in the United States Navy, his request was approved, he was transferred to the Navy Reserve on the reserve active duty list. After completing his active duty obligation in 1970, he was returned to reserve status, where he remained for much of his military career, being called up only for mandatory training and special assignments.
He retired from the Navy as a commander in 1995 after reaching the statutory service limit. While Ballard had been interested in the sea since an early age, his work at Woods Hole and his scuba diving experiences off Massachusetts spurred his interest in shipwrecks and their exploration, his work in the Navy had involved assisting in the development of small, unmanned submersibles that could be tethered to and controlled from a surface ship, were outfitted with lighting and manipulator arms. As early as 1973, he saw this as way of searching for the wreck of the Titanic. In 1977, he led his first expedition, unsuccessful. In summer 1985, Ballard was aboard the French research ship Le Suroît, using the side scan sonar SAR to search for the Titanic's wreck; when the French ship was recalled, he transferred onto a ship from the R/V Knorr. Unbeknownst to some, this trip was financed by the U. S. Navy for secret reconnaissance of the wreckage of two Navy nuclear powered attack submarines, the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher, which sank in the 1960s, not for the Titanic.
Back in 1982, he approached the Navy about his new deep sea underwater robot craft, the Argo, his search for the Titanic. The Navy was not interested in financing it. However, they were interested in finding out what happened to their missing submarines and concluded that Argo was their
PT 109 (film)
PT 109 is a 1963 Technicolor biographical war film, filmed in Panavision, which depicts the actions of John F. Kennedy as an officer of the United States Navy in command of Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 during the Pacific War of World War II; the film was adapted by Vincent Flaherty and Howard Sheehan from the book PT 109: John F. Kennedy in World War II by Robert J. Donovan, the screenplay was written by Robert L. Breen. Cliff Robertson stars as Kennedy, with featured performances by Ty Hardin, James Gregory, Robert Culp, Grant Williams. PT 109 was the first commercial theatrical film about a sitting United States President released while he was still in office and still alive, it was released in the United States on June 19, 1963, five months before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In August 1942, the American forces are fighting the Japanese across the Pacific. U. S. Navy Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy uses his family's influence to get himself assigned to the fighting in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Theater during World War II, much to the surprise of Commander C.
R. Ritchie. Kennedy lobbies for command of a PT boat, is assigned to the "109", a badly damaged boat in dire need of repair and overhaul. Ritchie seems to regard the young, inexperienced Kennedy as something of a lightweight, but his enthusiasm to build a crew and refurbish the "109" to operational status earns Ritchie's grudging respect; the crew includes Kennedy's executive officer, Ensign Leonard J. Thom, sailors "Bucky" Harris and Edmund Drewitch. On one mission, the PT 109 is sent to evacuate paramarines after their Raid on Choiseul. Kennedy takes aboard the survivors, but gets out of range of Japanese mortars before running out of fuel; the tide starts to carry the boat back toward the island. Kennedy, his crew, the rescued Marines face the prospect of a desperate fight for their lives, but in the nick of time another PT boat arrives and tows the 109 to safety. Another sortie is less successful. While on patrol one, moonless night in August 1943, a Japanese destroyer appears out of the darkness and slices the 109 in two, killing two of the thirteen crew.
Kennedy survives the collision and searches for survivors, despite injuring his back. When Kennedy and his men are presumed dead by nearby allies, Kennedy leads the survivors in swimming to a deserted island, while himself towing a badly burned crewman. Morale drops and several of the men appear ready to give up/surrender but Kennedy remains determined and swims out into the channel the next night hoping another PT boat will come by. No PT boats come by that night or the next night, but after a few days, Kennedy encounters two natives and gives them a carved message on a coconut. For the sailors, they take it to an Australian coastwatcher instead of the Japanese; the coastwatcher sends more natives to the island, they take Kennedy with them, the coastwatcher arranges for a rescue. Afterward, Kennedy is eligible to transfer back to the U. S. but is assigned command of another PT boat, modified as a gunboat, PT 59, elects to stay in the fight. Cliff Robertson as LTJG John F. Kennedy Ty Hardin as ENS Leonard J. Thom James Gregory as CDR C.
R. Ritchie Robert Culp as ENS George "Barney" Ross Grant Williams as LT Alvin Cluster Lew Gallo as Yeoman Rogers Errol John as Benjamin Kevu Michael Pate as Lieutenant Reginald Evans, RANVR Robert Blake as Charles "Bucky" Harris William Douglas as Gerard Zinser Biff Elliot as Edgar E. Mauer Norman Fell as Edmund Drewitch Sam Gilman as Raymond Starkey Clyde Howdy as Leon Drawdy Buzz Martin as Maurice Kowal James McCallion as Pat McMahon Joseph Gallison as Harold Marney Sammy Reese as Andrew Kirksey Glenn Sipes as William Johnson John Ward as John Maguire David Whorf as Raymond Albert Andrew Duggan, narrator George Takei, helmsman of Japanese destroyer JFK's father, Joseph Kennedy, had been a Hollywood producer and head of the RKO studio at one point in his career, he used his influence to negotiate the film rights to Donovan's biography of his son; the film was made under the "personal supervision" of Warner's head of Jack L. Warner; the White House sent Alvin Cluster, a wartime buddy of JFK, his former commanding officer, as well as a PT boat commander to act as a liaison between Warners and the White House for the film.
The White House had other aspects of the film. Among other actors considered for the lead were Peter Fonda, who objected to having to do his screen test with an impersonation of JFK's voice. Kennedy selected Robertson after viewing the screen tests. Robertson met with President Kennedy, who set three conditions on the film: that it be accurate, that profits go to the survivors of PT 109 and their families, President Kennedy had the final choice of lead actor. Though Robertson bore little physical resemblance to JFK and was nearly forty years old at the time the film was made, Alvin Cluster told Robertson "The President picked you not only because you were a fine actor but because you're young looking, yet mature enough so that the world won't get the idea the President was being played by a parking lot attendant or something". In his autobiography Kookie, No More Edd Byrnes said he was told "President John F. Kennedy didn't want to be played by "Kookie". Kennedy vetoed Raoul Walsh as the director of the film after screening Walsh's Marines Let's Go and n
PT-109 (video game)
PT-109 is a naval simulation video game developed by Digital Illusions and Spectrum HoloByte in 1987 for the Macintosh and MS-DOS. This game is based on the events involving the Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109; the game starts in the practice-tactics mode. In this mode, new players learn how to operate the boat, fire torpedoes, read radar on different displays, when to use the engine muffler for a quieter approach, how to operate smoke screens, how to find other weaponry. Players learn the history of the craft, as some patrol boats can be piloted only during specific stages of World War II. Additional features of the game include four difficulty levels, radio messages to the player's base for additional air or ship support, automatic pilot, assigned patrols. A Computer Gaming World reviewer in 1988 called PT-109 "a remarkable achievement", but stated that he no longer played the game because he had played all of the preprogrammed patrols several times and knew what would happen, he recommended using the practice mode to become familiar with the game, instead of the lowest difficulty level, to maximize its lifetime.
1991 and 1993 surveys of strategy and war games gave it two and a half stars out of five. In 1988, Dragon gave the Macintosh version of the game 4 out of 5 stars, they gave the MS-DOS version 4½ out of 5 stars. PT-109 at MobyGames
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy, in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Kennedy's actions to save his surviving crew after the sinking of PT-109 made him a war hero. PT-109's collision contributed to Kennedy's long-term back problems and required months of hospitalization at Chelsea Naval hospital. Kennedy's post-war campaigns for elected office referred to his service on the PT-109. PT-109 belonged to the PT-103 class, hundreds of which were completed between 1942 and 1945, by Elco, in Bayonne, New Jersey; the ship's keel was laid 4 March 1942, as the seventh Motor Torpedo Boat of the 80-foot-long -class built by Elco, was launched on 20 June. She was delivered to the Navy on 10 July 1942, fitted out in the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn; the Elco boats were the largest PT boats operated by the U. S. Navy during World War II. At 80 feet and 40 tons, they had strong wooden hulls, constructed of two layers of 1-inch mahogany planking, excellent for speed, but offering limited protection in a firefight or torpedo attack.
Powered by three 12-cylinder 1,500 horsepower Packard gasoline engines, their designed top speed was 41 knots. To conserve space and improve weight distribution, the outboard or wing engines were mounted with their output ends facing forward, with power transmitted through Vee-drive gearboxes to the propeller shafts; the center engine was mounted with the output flange facing away from the boat or aft, power was transmitted directly to the propeller shaft. The engines were fitted with mufflers on the transom to direct the exhaust under water, which had to be bypassed for anything other than idle speed; the mufflers were both to mask the engines' noise from the enemy, to improve the crew's chance of hearing enemy aircraft so defensive strikes or evasive maneuvers could be made sooner. Without the mufflers, the enemy aircraft might be detected only after they fired their cannons, machine guns or dropped their bombs. Seen in PT 109's design diagram at left, the boat had a single 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft mount at the rear with "109" painted on the mounting base, two open circular rotating turrets, each with twin M2.50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns at opposite corners of the open cockpit, a smoke generator on her transom.
The M2's could be effective against attacking aircraft. The smoke generator was essential when operating close to enemy vessels, for protection at close range; the day before her final mission, PT-109's crew lashed a U. S. Army 37 mm antitank gun to the foredeck, replacing a two-man life raft. Timbers used to secure the weapon to the deck helped save their lives when used as a float – although given the events that occurred, the original life raft would have been more useful, conserving the energy of injured crew members, providing both flares and food, essential for survival. PT-109 could accommodate a crew of three officers and 14 enlisted, with the typical crew size between 12 and 14. Loaded, PT-109 displaced 56 tons; the principal offensive weapon was her torpedoes. She was fitted with four 21-inch torpedo tubes containing Mark 8 torpedoes, they weighed 3,150 pounds each, with 386-pound warheads and gave the tiny boats a punch believed at the time to be effective against armored ships. The Mark 8 torpedo, was both inaccurate and ineffective until their detonators were recalibrated by the Navy at the end of the war limiting the Patrol Torpedo boat's ability to defend herself from larger craft or at long range.
A major issue was that in the unlikely instance they hit their target, they detonated. In contrast, the Japanese type 93 destroyer torpedoes called the "long lance", were faster at 45 knots, capable of an accurate 20,000 yard range, far more powerful with 1000 pounds of high explosives, unlike the Mark 8, their detonators worked when they hit their target. One naval officer explained that 90% of the time, when the button was pushed on the torpedo tube to launch a torpedo, nothing happened or the motor spun the propeller until the torpedo motor exploded in the tube sending metal fragments to the deck. For safety, a torpedo mate was required to hit the torpedo's firing pin with a hammer to get one to launch. Kennedy and contemporary writers noted that torpedo mates and other PT crew were inadequately trained in aiming, firing the Mark 8 torpedoes, were never informed of their ineffectiveness and low rate of detonation. Compounding the problems of ineffective and unlaunchable torpedoes, the PT boats had only experimental and primitive radar sets through 1943, which were at best unreliable and failed to work.
PT crews sometimes abandoned their radar sets, if they were issued them at all, leaving the Patrol motor boat with little advanced warning of an approaching enemy craft at night or in fog conditions. Their typical speed of 36 knots was effective against shipping, but because of rapid marine growth buildup on their hulls in the South Pacific and austere maintenance facilities in forward areas, PT boats ended up being slower than the top speed of the Japanese destroyers and cruisers they were assigned to attack in the Solomons. Torpedoes were useless against shallow-draft barges, their most common targets. With their machine guns and 20 mm cannon, the PTs could not return the large-caliber gunfire carried by destroyers, which had a much longer effective range; the PT's guns, were effective a