USA: Maritime Museum of San Diego Welcomes Restored Vietnam War Swift Boat

Maritime Museum of San Diego Welcomes Restored Vietnam War Swift Boat

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the Maritime Museum of San Diego officially welcomed the “Patrol Craft Fast 24” (P24) to its fleet, with a special ceremony. The swift boat was donated to the museum by the Republic of Malta in 2011, after the vessel was retired from service.

“As a Vietnam Veteran, I feel it is an honor to have this Swift Boat entrusted to the Port of San Diego’s tenant and partner, the Maritime Museum of San Diego,” said Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners Lou Smith. “Here, in San Diego Bay, it will continue to educate visitors about its role in our history.”

Some 35 Swift Boat Veterans joined San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, representatives of the U.S. Navy, Chairman Smith, and other dignitaries at the event.

Swift Boats were first put into service in 1965, when American sailors used them to patrol the coastline of South Vietnam. In preparation for war, PCF training exercises were conducted on San Diego Bay at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

Port tenants worked together to restore the swift boat for its arrival at the Maritime Museum. It was repainted and refurbished at Koehler Kraft Boatyard, located on Shelter Island.

“Malta’s Minister of Defense donated the swift boat with our promise to preserve her history and to pay tribute to all swift boat sailors from both countries,” Ray Ashley, CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. “This event honors the approximately 3,500 Swift Boat sailors who served as crew or support personnel from 1965 to 1973.”

The Swift Boat Sailors Association worked with museum officials to bring the swift boat to the Maritime Museum of San Diego to be restored and operated on San Diego Bay.

“This acquisition is a special opportunity to educate Maritime Museum visitors about the significant history of Swift Boats and the brave Vietnam veterans associated with them,” said Ashley.

Once the U.S. Coast Guard certifies the swift boat as a documented vessel, the museum hopes to use it for narrated tours.

“Museum visitors will have the opportunity to experience the swift boat through the Bay, while retired Swift Boat Sailors and docents talk about what it was like to be a crewman in Vietnam,” said Robyn Gallant, marketing manager for the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

The $100,000 transportation and restoration cost was being solely funded by donations to the “Bring Her Home” Swift Boat Maintenance Fund.

About the Maritime Museum of San Diego:

The Maritime Museum of San Diego enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. The museum brings adventure and discovery to life through interactive exhibits, volunteer opportunities and educational outreach. The Maritime Museum of San Diego has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India. The museum, located on the North Embarcadero in downtown San Diego, is open to visitors daily.

About the Port:

The Port of San Diego is the fourth largest of the 11 ports in California. It was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested millions of dollars in public improvements in its five member cities: Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.

The port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 18 public parks, the Harbor Police Department and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.

The Port of San Diego is an economic engine, an environmental steward of San Diego Bay and the surrounding tidelands, and a provider of community services and public safety.

Naval Today Staff, September 23, 2012; Image: Port of  San Diego