Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

USS PT-109, 1943-43

USS PT-109, an Elco type patrol-torpedo boat, was placed in service in July 1942 and departed onboard the Liberty Ship SS Joseph Stanton for duty in the Pacific.  Joining Motor Torpedo Boat Two in October, she participated in the Guadalcanal Campaign to stop Japanese reinforcements.   In February 1943, the month after the Japanese retreated from Guadalcanal, Lieutenant Junior Grade John F. Kennedy took command of the boat and was based out of Rendova Island after the island's capture that summer.  In the early hours on August 2, 1943, PT-109 was patrolling Blackett Strait, on the southern side of Kolombangara Island, when her starboard side was rammed, cut, and severely disabled by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri.   Eventually sinking, her eleven survivors abandoned the boat, with Kennedy towing one of the crew and ensuring the men returned to the PT Base at Rendova.   Kennedy would receive the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism and become the 35th President of the United States, 1961-63. 

A model of PT-109 can be found In Harm's Way (Pacific Section) at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.   

Image:  306-ST-649-9:  Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, USNR, (standing at right), with other crewmen onboard USS PT-109, 1943.  This photograph has been retouched.   U.S. National Archives Photograph.