PG-88 USS Crockett
These are the largest patrol-type craft built by the Navy after
World War II. These ships were originally classified as Motor Gunboats (PGM) but
reclassified as Patrol Gunboats (PG) with the same hull numbers on 1 April 1967. The term
Motor Gunboats is now applied primarily to craft built for allied navies.
The USS Crockett (PG - 88) is one of the seventeen Gunboats in the Asheville
Class. The USS Crockett was authorized to be built in Fiscal Year 1965 and was
commissioned 24 June 1967. Built by Tacoma Boat building Co. of Tacoma Washington, these
boats took approximately 18 months to build at a cost of about $5,000,000 each. This class
was the first group of the US Navy ships to be powered by a gas turbine power plant. These
ships have a Combination Diesel and Gas turbine (CODAG) propulsion system with twin diesel
engines for economical cruise and a gas turbine for high-speed operations. The gas turbine
is a LM1500 that is a modification of the General Electric JT9-8 that was used in the
famous F4 Phantom II Jet Fighter. The exhaust gases from the jet pass through a fan, which
turns two props through a reduction gear system. The transfer from diesel to gas turbine
can be accomplished underway with no loss of speed. Under turbine power the Crockett can
do 50 knots. She can also accelerate her 230 tons from 0 to 40 knots in 60 seconds.
Maneuverability is excellent due in part to controllable variable-pitch propellers.
The speed and propeller pitch is controlled directly from the pilothouse
console. Either JP-5 or diesel fuel can be used for both the diesel engines and the gas
turbine. The hull was constructed of aluminum with a superstructure
of fiberglass and
aluminum. Her lightweight construction allows operations in
relatively shallow waters. The lowest projection below the keel is only 9' below water
level when the ship is fully loaded. The armament consists of 3"/50 caliber rapid
fire gun mounted in a turret on the foredeck. A 40 mm Bofors anti aircraft gun is mounted
on the rear deck. Two twin .50 caliber machine guns can be attached to mounts on each side
of the second deck. The Crockett was designed for the roles of coastal
patrol, blockade reconnaissance and support missions. She took part in operations during
the Vietnam War. Her primary duties were in "Operation Market Time". The
objective of these missions was to prevent the Viet Cong from using the coastal waters to
transport weapons and supplies. When boats were spotted, she would go into high-speed
pursuit and once she was among them, runabouts with outboard engines would be lowered over
the side and two or three man crews would round them up.
She was ultimately stripped of her gas
turbine and armament and transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency and renamed
the Rachel Carson. Unfortunately the USS CROCKETT (Rachel Carson) has been
scrapped, this was according to Mr. Ed McLean at the Environmental Protection Agency.
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