PTF-26 is a 95’ Vietnam & Cold War US Navy gunboat owned by Paducah-based non-profit Maritime Pastoral Training Foundation, Ltd. PTF-26 is one of four Osprey-Class PTFs, the larger, aluminum-hulled sisters of the wooden Nasty-Class PTFs. As the final PTF, and No. 841 of 841 total PT-type boats built for the US Navy 1940-1968, PTF-26 earns the distinction of being “THE LAST AMERICAN PT BOAT”.
PTFs were the Vietnam War’s version of WWII’s famed PT Boats, with a design speed of 40+ knots. WWII PT boats used torpedoes to attack enemy shipping, but these heavily-armed near-coastal gunboats were primarily used to support Special Forces. Built by Sewart Seacraft in Berwick, LA in 1968, Ospreys were powered by imported Napier Deltic engines, each rated at 3,100 hp. PTF-26 and her three sisters were delivered to the Military Assistance Group (MACV) in DaNang in 1968. Each of 19 crew were trained to operate any of PTF-26 ‘s weapons: 40mm Bofors cannon aft, two 20mm Oerlikon AA guns forward, .50 caliber Browning machine gun/81mm mortar piggy-backed foredeck.
With the 1971 drawdown of US forces in Vietnam, PTF-26 returned to the U.S. West Coast where the Navy used her for patrol, training and equipment testing. First assigned to Coastal River Squadron One at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, PTF-26 was later transferred to the Pacific Missile Test Center, Port Hueneme, CA. Released as surplus in 1985, PTF-26 was soon reacquired by the Navy, and served in the fleet through the end of the Cold War, 1987 – 1990.
In 1998 PTF-26 was transferred to Sacramento-based non-profit Liberty Maritime, Inc. and renamed T/V LIBERTY. For the next two decades PTF-26/LIBERTY made history of a different sort as the nation’s first Sea Scout training ship with an all-female crew. T/V LIBERTY and its award-winning female crew, TIKI TOO, were well-known and much admired throughout the Bay Area.
PTF-26 was purchased in March 2020 by Maritime Pastoral Training Foundation Ltd. and is being relocated to Western Kentucky. PTF-26 will serve as an operational museum and hands-on school ship operating along the Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Mississippi Rivers. In 2023, PTF-26 will occupy its own berth at Paducah’s new $6.9 million Steamboat Excursion Pier on the historic Riverfront.
Rechristened Training Ship JESSE L. BROWN in honor of the first African-American Naval Aviator, PTF-26 will spend most of the year training Sea Scouts, Sea Cadets and NJROTC cadets from Kentucky and five neighboring states. Each August PTF-26 will serve as home of the Maritime Chaplains School, a 21-day residential course for 10-12 chaplain candidates, developed in consultation with and on behalf of the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI), North American Maritime Ministries Association (NAMMA) and other service agencies.
“TWO SIX BOAT” retains a distinctive naval appearance with its photogenic 80’ Elco pattern camouflage paint scheme (w/alternating olive drab, flat black, grey) and but two minor modifications topside (CIC windows, 80’ Elco-style deckhouse aft). Other post-Navy upgrades include modern shipboard electronics (AIS), VHF/UHF radios, Furuno radar, ECDIS navigation and Detroit 3-71/1200 rpm 30 kw electric generator. PTF-26 was repowered in 2013 w/twin Detroit Diesel 16v71 main engines, replacing its original Napier Deltics.
Source: Chaplain Kempton. D. Baldridge, Co-founder MPTF, Ltd.
Maritime Pastoral Training Foundation, Ltd. - 605 Woodland Drive, Paducah, KY 42001
Current location: South T-Pier, Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA
Note: PTF-26's relocation to KY is delayed for repairs; vessel temporary moored at Morro Bay, CA.
She will be closed during the pandemic, vessel tours are by appointment only