Press Release

P-520 Visit to Puget Sound

 

 

Combatant Craft
of America
Preserving Our Warboat Heritage

Contact:  Chuck Fowler/ 360-9432858 nwnx@olywa.net 

Dan Withers/ 360-437-0125

DRAFT                                                  February 4, 2005

World War II Air Force Crash Rescue Set to Visit Puget Sound

 

A restored, 85-foot wooden Army Air Force crash rescue boat that saw service during World War II is scheduled to visit Puget Sound this summer.   Plans are underway for the P-520, owned by the Army Air Force/ U.S. Air Force Crash Rescue Boat Association (CRBA), to travel more than 1,500 miles up the Pacific Coast from Long Beach, California to participate in several summertime events in Tacoma, Seattle and other port communities in the region.  

The historic military boat is scheduled to join another patrol boat built during WWII, the 83-foot wooden Coast Guard CG-83527, to help escort the tall sailing ships into Tacoma during the Tall Ships Challenge series event June 30 through July 4.    The CG-83527 and crew was stationed in Tacoma at the Municipal Dock building from 1945 until 1962, and a smaller Army Air Force crash boat was assigned to the Point Defiance Boathouse in 1945.  Both the Air Force and the Coast Guard boats will be on public exhibit at selected times during the Tall Ships Tacoma festival along the Thea Foss Waterway and Ruston Way.  

“Having both historic military patrol boats in Tacoma during the tall ships event will a real patriotic plus, “said Stan Selden, Ship Recruiting and Marine Operations Committee chair.   “It give the public a chance to see and tour these life-saving patrol boats, and honor those veterans who served their country aboard them.”   

Often mistaken for one of the legendary WWII PT or patrol torpedo boats, the sleek,

gray P-520 was one of several types of high speed patrol and rescue craft used by the Army Air Force during WWII and later during the Korean War by the independent United States Air Force.   Originally the 85-foot crash boats were powered by two 1500 horsepower Packard marine engines, also used in the PT boats, that produced a top speed of more than 35 knots.   Three of these same powerplants were used also in the PT boats.   For greater reliability, currently the P-520 is powered by twin 500 horsepower turbo diesel engines.   

In addition to their participation in Tall Ships Tacoma June 30, July 1 and 4, the P-520 and CG-83527 are scheduled to be one of the highlights of the Seattle Wooden Boat Festival, July 2 and 3.   The two historic military boats will be on exhibit and open for tours at South Lake Union Park during the 29th annual festival, sponsored by the Center for Wooden Boats.   

The P-520 was donated to the CRBA in 1997 and has undergone an extensive, seven year-long restoration process.   Air Force veteran Delbert “Bud’ Tretter, a crewman on an 85-foot boat similar to the P-520 during the Korean War, has spearheaded and supported most of the restoration project at his boatyard in Long Beach, California.   

“The restoration has returned the boat to more 90 percent original condition,” said Les Adams, president of the Crash Rescue Boat Association.   “And without Bud Tretter, his wife and sons, boatyard crew and suppliers there wouldn’t be a P-520 project to help future generations remember this important part of our military history.”    

Once the boat makes some operational appearances on the Pacific Coast during 2005, plans are to exhibit it in a museum on shore.   It will become a permanent tribute to the wartime record of the Air Force crash boats and their crews during the WWII in the 1940’s and the Korean War in the 1950’s.    

The Puget Sound appearances of the Air Force and Coast Guard boats are being coordinated by Combatant Craft of America (CCoA), a nonprofit organization based in Port Ludlow.  Its purpose is to preserve and restore historic military patrol boats and their histories from WWII to the present, and to recognize the service of their crew members.  

“The wartime exploits of battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines are well-known,” said CCoA president Dan Withers.  “However the fast response patrol and rescue boats and their crews, both in overseas combat zones and on the homefront, also served their country proudly and we want to help tell these stories.”   

For more information about the P-520 and CG-83527 and their Puget Sound exhibit schedule, contact Chuck Fowler at 360-943-2858 or e-mail nwnx@olywa.net.   Additional information about Combatant Craft of America is available on its web site, www. warboats.org or from Dan Withers, 360-437-0125 or e-mail 83527@warboats.org.   

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