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PT 728 to return to Key West

Old 01-07-2006, 11:53 PM
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PT 728 to return to Key West

Citizen Staff

KEY WEST The newly restored and perfectly painted PT 728 will once again patrol the waters off Key West on Monday, after a hiatus blamed on financial problems with the boat's former owner.

The PT boats, made legendary by former President John F. Kennedy's tenure aboard the ill-fated PT 109, were used in both the European and Asian theaters of World War II.

But four of the boats were used locally to protect the ship convoys that traveled between Key West and Havana, said Capt. Kelly George, who will man the helm of PT 728 for its daily historic cruises.

"Those four PTC Patrol, Torpedo, Chase boats were equipped with extra sonar equipment to listen for German submarines that were a major threat in the area," George said, looking forward to getting the boat back on the water and offering his 90-minute narrated tour of the island's military history.

The Key West Bight Board, which manages operations at the Historic Seaport, voted unanimously to welcome PT 728 back into the harbor, and the Key West Maritime Historical Society fully supports its return.

"A vessel such as the PT 728 makes a very dramatic statement to all who view her that the city's waterfront is a locale that provides a means to better appreciate the historical maritime roots of the Keys, and by extension, those of the broader national stage," wrote Ed Little, president of the Maritime Historical Society.

Completed in August 1945, PT 728 never saw active duty during the war that ended before the vessel could be dispatched, George said.

"But she is the last floating PT boat in the world that remains in the military configuration," he said.

Other PT boats are in museums or have been refitted.

"This is a floating museum," he said.

And the new owner of the boat, Rob Iannucci, a retired district attorney from New York, has a passion for historic vehicles, including boats and motorcycles, and said it has long been his dream to own and operate a PT boat.

PT 728 will dock at the historic Singleton Shrimp Dock in front of the Conch Republic Seafood Company, adding to the initial intention of the seaport, which was to be a "venue where working watercraft, traditional vessels and military vessels could be exhibited," Little wrote.

The daily tours consist of an educational narrative by crew members wearing World War II-era uniforms, along with a "full speed simulated torpedo run" that requires the 49 passengers to don helmets and man their battle stations.

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Old 01-08-2006, 02:36 AM
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Default Re: PT 728 to return to Key West

Scratch the December 2005 launch date.. I was @ Robbies shipyard ten days ago, she's still on the ground there, and doesnt look close to launchable yet....
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