Maritime Museum of San Diego Announces Swift Boat Tours
The Maritime Museum of San Diego recently unveiled the newest member of its collection, PCF 816, a Vietnam-era swift boat, after two years of painstaking restoration. This Memorial Day weekend will mark the inauguration of tours offered aboard the boat, complete with narration describing the vessel’s role in the US, Malta, and Vietnam, as well as the role of swift boat sailors.
Formally called Patrol Craft Fast (PCF), the United States Navy’s PCFs were first put into service in 1965 when American sailors used them to patrol the coastline of South Vietnam to prevent sea infiltration of soldiers and munitions from North Vietnam. Such counterinsurgency missions had to be executed quickly, and hence, the crafts were nicknamed “Swift Boats” for their speed and agility in moving in and out and harm’s way. In preparation for war, PCF training exercises were conducted on San Diego Bay at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.
The specific 50-foot Swift Boat acquired by the Maritime Museum was originally donated by the United States Navy to Malta’s Maritime Squadron in 1971. It continued in service to that country until being retired in 2010. The following year, Malta’s minister of defense, Vanessa Frazier, conveyed her deep acknowledgement of America’s veterans with the gesture to return the boat to the Swift Boat Sailors Association (SBSA). The SBSA then sought the help of the Maritime Museum, renowned for its reputation for ship preservation.
“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 Ray Ashley, CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. “We honor their service, courage and commitment and are proud to support this initial restoration that will provide an active, hands-on experience in San Diego for many years to come.”
For more information, visit the museum’s website, https://www.sdmaritime.org/pcf-816-swift-boat/.