Funding Success for PT-305 Move
The National WWII Museum in the U.S. has fully funded its Kickstarter campaign to return patrol-torpedo boat PT-305 to her home waters in three days.
The museum announced plans last week to return restored PT-305 to her home waters of Lake Pontchartrain where she was originally tested by Higgins Industries more than 70 years ago.
The Pritzker Military Museum & Library in association with the Tawani Foundation made a $100,000 commitment to the PT-305 project. Also, well-known actor and veteran activist Gary Sinise personally donated $50,000 to help launch PT-305 after seeing the momentum generated by the campaign.
The over-whelming support from across the country has made it possible for this fully-restored PT boat that saw combat in WWII to become a whole new kind of Museum experience. In 2017, visitors will be able to stand where WWII service members once stood and walk the deck where the “Greatest Generation” fought for freedom. They will also have the thrill-of-a-lifetime opportunity to ride over the waves at top speed, reliving the rush of wind and adrenaline that Navy sailors did when PT boats—the fastest U.S. Navy ships of World War II—first launched.
The Kickstarter campaign, which has a crowdfunding goal of $100,000, was part of an overall effort to raise more than $500,000 to return PT-305 to the waterways. The museum plans to place PT-305 on a trailer, remove the entire front wall of her current home, the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion, and move the boat out to the Race Street Wharf where she will be placed on a barge on the Mississippi River. A tug will then pull the vessel to a facility on the Industrial Canal for sea trials.
Following two to three months of testing, plans call for moving PT-305 to a new, permanent home – a custom-built boathouse located at South Shore Harbor near the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.
The transfer of PT-305 to water is the culmination of the museum’s decade-long effort to restore her, over $3.3 million worth of in-kind and monetary donations, as well as more than 100,000 hours of work from a dedicated corps of over 200 volunteers. PT-305 will become a unique museum experience: placing visitors on the very deck where members of the U.S. Navy stood to attack Axis supply ships and troop transports, speeding over the waves just as PT-305’s crew did in the Mediterranean during the war.
PT boats played an essential and dramatic role in advancing America’s military campaigns in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was a major blow to the Pacific Fleet.
Today, just four combat-veteran PT boats still exist in the United States; of those, only PT-305 is fully restored and operational, complete with original-model engines.
“The restoration of PT-305, like all museum restoration projects, is aimed at making history accessible to today’s audiences in as detailed and authentic a way possible,” said museum executive vice president and COO Stephen Watson. “By preserving significant artifacts such as the vessels on which the Greatest Generation served, the museum is building the framework for tomorrow’s generations to connect with their service and sacrifice. As we embark, for the first time ever, on this kind of crowdfunding effort, we truly need all hands on deck to launch PT-305 and complete this important mission to honor our veterans’ legacies.”
Alongside the fundraising appeal, the Museum is asking for public support to help identify all living PT boat veterans and PT boat squadron support-base veterans. After reaching its Kickstarter goal, the institution plans to invite the veterans to take a celebratory ride on the type of ship they once called home – an opportunity which, given the advancing age of WWII veterans, is available to a diminishing number of WWII veterans. The museum’s research team is also eager to capture as many PT-boat veteran stories as possible to add to the institution’s oral history collection.