PT-305 Returns Home to The National WWII Museum Campus

The National WWII Museum’s patrol torpedo (PT) boat 305 has her new assignment—return to her permanent home on the Museum’s campus in the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion (KRP). Debuting to the public in 2023, having her back on campus will provide an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Museum visitors each year to observe the fully restored vessel up close and learn of her wartime crew members and tours of duty.

Obtained by the Museum in 2007, PT-305 was originally housed in KRP while volunteers generously dedicated more than 120,000 hours over 10 years to complete her restoration. In March 2017, the iconic vessel became the world’s only fully restored combat-veteran PT boat in operation, offering rides and tours on the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, where she was originally tested by Higgins Industries. During the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, the Museum made the difficult decision to move PT-305 to storage while developing plans to make her more accessible to wider audiences by bringing her back to the main Museum campus.

“PT-305 has an exciting future ahead,” said Josh Schick, Curator & Restoration Manager at The National WWII Museum. “The location on the main campus ensures that all Museum guests will be able to see and experience her unique history. The temperature-and humidity-controlled environment of Kushner Restoration Pavilion will enable long-term preservation of this historic artifact, and housing the boat adjacent to the STEM Innovation Gallery will ensure the technologies that made PT-305 an asset to the US Navy will be taught to future generations.”

After completing her final journey from Lake Pontchartrain to the Port of New Orleans through the streets of the Central Business District on July 9, 2022, PT-305 will undergo a few months of preparations to reset the boat from operational and storage conditions to permanent display. During that time, KRP will remain closed to the public and reopen early 2023, offering viewing of PT-305 from a custom-built observation deck, which will be included as part of the Museum’s Campus Pass general admission, as well as premium below-deck guided tours for an additional fee. The reconfiguration of KRP to once again house PT-305 will also include an expansion of the Museum’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Innovation Gallery, focusing on how problems were solved during World War II through ingenuity and innovation.

Additionally, the Kushner Restoration Pavilion will officially become a hub for all of the Museum’s restoration work to support the ongoing care of the institution’s unparalleled collection of WWII macro-artifacts. Visitors will not only be able to observe the fully restored PT-305 but also watch ongoing restoration work in a newly constructed area featuring a glass wall and viewing space—a unique peek into the continued maintenance and restoration of WWII-era vehicles and other artifacts.

The fastest US naval ships in World War II, PT boats played an essential and dramatic role in advancing America’s military campaigns in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Heavily armed, equipped with advanced technology, uniquely maneuverable, often ingeniously modified, and reliant on cooperation and teamwork, PT boats were a perfect naval expression of the American spirit at war.

The Museum’s PT-305, nicknamed USS Sudden Jerk, was acquired in a state of disrepair. Originally built in New Orleans by Higgins Industries, she was a critical asset for the US Navy during World War II, serving in European waters from 1944 to the end of the war. However, after a series of civilian career detours including service as a New York tour boat, an oyster boat and a fishing charter, this storied WWII veteran had made her way to Galveston, Texas, and was dry docked when the Museum acquired her in 2007.

Nearly 10 years later—after more than 120,000 volunteer hours, nearly $3 million of in-kind donations and contributions from more than 100 supporters, along with consultation by the US Coast Guard—PT-305 was relocated from KRP to Lake Pontchartrain. In March 2017, she began sailing her home waters as a piece of living history, introducing new generations to her agility and prowess and even allowing veterans to once again experience their incredible bond with this essential and unique piece of wartime machinery. Roughly 3,800 visitors rode aboard PT-305, speeding over the waves just as her crew did in the Mediterranean during World War II. An additional 3,900 visitors followed in the footsteps of PT veterans through deck tours, standing where members of the US Navy stood to attack Axis supply ships and troop transports.

The Museum would like to thank Berard Transportation, Lockton, Canal Barge, Northshore Community Foundation, Stewart Construction, CM Combs Construction, Dixie Electric, Jack B. Harper Electrical, New Orleans Glass, Entergy New Orleans and the Port of New Orleans for their generous support of the PT-305 transportation back to campus. Her arrival back on campus will help introduce her to a broader audience and further pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom aboard PT boats. We also thank all supporters who gave of their time and talents throughout the initial restoration to give her a new life.

"Maybe I’ll get to go aboard my old boat after all this time."

—Jim Nerison, WWII veteran who served aboard PT-305