Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
Maritime Museum to Acquire Vietnam-era "Swift Boat"
The San Diego Maritime Museum has announced that it will soon take possession of P24, a “patrol craft fast” boat, from the Republic of Malta. Otherwise known as “swift boats,” the vessels were used by U.S. armed forced during the Vietnam War to patrol the region’s coastline. The term “swift boat” then gained a foothold as a verb after an infamous series of political attack ads aimed at Senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
P24 was one of two swift boats donated by the U.S. Navy in 1971 to the newly-formed Malta Maritime Squadron, where it served for 40 years until being retired in 2010.
“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,” Ray Ashley, Maritime Museum CEO, said in a release.
The boat will now be towed to a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, where it will be restored. The total anticipated cost of $100,000 is being funded solely through donations to the Maritime Museum. When it arrives in San Diego, it will feature displays honoring both U.S. and Malta forces that served aboard the boat.
But the boat won’t solely function as a stationary museum.
“Museum visitors will have the opportunity to experience the sound and throbbing vibration from two V12 diesels delivering 980 horsepower for high speed runs through the Bay while retired Swift Boat Sailors and docents talk about what it was like to be a crewman in Vietnam,” the Maritime Museum’s website says of its plans for the boat.
P24 is expected to arrive in San Diego sometime in late August.