How PT-305 Got Her Custom Portholes

Learn how this unique field modification came to be.

PT-305 Andres Ballesteros

Patrol-torpedo boats designed by Higgins Industries were not equipped with portholes. They also did not have air conditioning, meaning summer nights in the crew’s quarters were hot and stuffy. In September 1944, PT-305 briefly operated out of Saint-Tropez, France, but that short time was long enough for the crew to transform the boat. Torpedoman’s Mate Jim Nerison wrote about the change he made to PT-305:

“Squadron 22 was moved to Saint-Tropez in southern France. We took over an upscale marina and hotel on the French Rivera. Close to the marina was an abandoned boatyard containing quite a few damaged yachts. A buddy and I were nosing around the yard and noticed some brightly polished bronze portholes on one of the vessels. We went back to our boat, got some tools, returned, and removed two of the ports.

“On the condition that the ports would be sealed during night operations, I got permission from the skipper to install them on each side of the hull of our boat. To obtain better ventilation, I mounted one next to my bunk in the crew’s quarters and one on the opposite side of the boat.

PT-305: A service-era photo showing one of the custom portholes.

PT-305: A service-era photo showing one of the custom portholes.

“Almost 60 years later, in the ‘All Hands’ section of a publication distributed by PT Boats Inc., I came across a picture of a boat claiming to be PT-305. The boat was being used as an oyster scow in the Chesapeake Bay. It had very little resemblance to the boat that I remembered, except the general hull design and the configuration of the wood planking on its sides. Then I noticed the porthole on the starboard side up near the bow. Yes indeed, that was PT-305! She didn’t look like the fast, powerful and daring vessel originally commissioned in New Orleans, but then, neither do the two surviving members of her original crew.”

Portholes were also installed in the officer’s quarters of PT-305, and several other PT boats in Squadron 22 installed portholes as well. All of the original portholes were still installed in PT-305 when The National WWII Museum acquired the boat in 2007. In 2015, they were restored and returned to their wartime locations on the hull.


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Article by Museum Curator Josh Schick.