Patrol and Rescue Boats on Puget Sound


Patrol and Rescue Boats on Puget Sound is a new pictorial history book featuring more than 200 photos from sources ranging from the National Archives to military veterans?personal collections, will be released on December 12 .  It is part of the “Images of America?series produced by Arcadia Publishing Company, the latest book covers more than a century of fast patrol vessel history on the Sound.   This time span ranges from the construction and operation of the Navy torpedo boat U.S.S. Rowan built by Seattle’s Moran Brothers shipyard in 1898 to modern Coast Guard homeland security boats produced by SAFE Boats International of Port Orchard and Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle. 

Co-authored by Chuck Fowler and Dan Withers, the new volume is the third in the “on Puget Sound?maritime history series which includes “Tall Ships?published in 2007 and “Tugboats? published in 2010.   Fowler is past  president of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society in Seattle and an Air Force veteran, and Withers is a Navy Vietnam War destroyer veteran and president of the Combatant Craft of America, a nonprofit patrol boat historical and preservation group. 

Among the little-known stories and rare images featured in the new book are PT (patrol torpedo) boats operating in Puget Sound during World War II, production of the third largest number of WWII Coast Guard picket boats in the nation by a Kirkland boat builder, development of Bellingham-built Navy river patrol boats and hydrofoil patrol boats by Boeing during Vietnam War era of the 1960s and 1970s, and production and operation of Coast Guard fast response boats following the September 11, 2001 homeland terrorist attacks.    The book’s many previously unpublished photos show that Puget Sound-based boat builders and military maritime units have been important parts of the nation’s patrol and rescue boat history.  

For more information or to pre-order your copy of the “Patrol and Rescue Boats on Puget Sound?book visit or their Toll Free Order Line 1-888-313-2665. The book will also be available at many Puget Sound area museums, book stores and other locations on December 12th.


PRBPS Chapter Summaries: 

Chapter one describes the beginnings of patrol boats on Puget Sound.    As larger Navy sailing vessels of the Revolutionary War in the late 1700s and the War of 1812 gave way to new steam-powered ships, such as gunboats like the Monitor and Merrimac and even submarines during the Civil War in the early 1860s, fast patrol boats first appeared on the Pacific Coast.   During the late 1800s and through the end of World War I in 1919, some of these vessels were built and operated in the Pacific Northwest and others were refitted commercial tug and fish boats that were pressed into customs anti-smuggling, other law enforcement and sea safety service. 
In 1920 the number or patrol boats and their operation began to increase in the region when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution became law.   The amendment prohibited the production, distribution, transport, import and export, and consumption of alcoholic beverages throughout the nation.   This significant military maritime development is covered in Chapter two.
The U.S. Coast Guard was given the new, expanded responsibility of preventing rum running boats from smuggling illegal the illegal liquor on the Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Coast including Washington State and Puget Sound.   Prohibition ended in 1933 with the repeal of the 18th Amendment.   But the 14 year period produced major design and engine technology advances that proved valuable when the Navy’s famous small PT (patrol torpedo) and similar boats, as well as fast Coast Guard and Army Air Force rescue craft, were built during World War II.   In important combat and support roles throughout the world, all of these tough, speedy small boats were essential to United States?ultimate victory. 
The Cold War years from 1946 to 1991, which included major regional hot?wars in Korea and Vietnam, is covered in Chapter three.   Although the Pacific conflicts in the Far East in the early 1950s and in South East Asia in the late 1960s and early 1970s were fought far from Puget Sound, regional boat builders designed and constructed many of the patrol boats used in these wars.    Many innovative designs and production methods were developed by boat manufacturers during these periods.    Nationally and in the Pacific Northwest this maritime industrial pattern continued through the 1980s and early 1990s, when the collapse of Soviet Russia and Communism marked the end of the Cold War with the United States.   
Chapter four interrupts this historical chronology to focus on the rescue, restoration and operation of one particular patrol and rescue boat, the World War II era Coast Guard CG-83527.   The 83-foot-long boat, which served in Tacoma, Washington and south Puget Sound from 1945 to 1962, was rediscovered in 2003 by Dan Withers, president of the nonprofit Combatant Craft of America, and his wife Roxane.   An important part of Pacific Northwest military maritime history, the last of the wooden Coast Guard cutters in military configuration also has an iconic place in the nation’s patrol boat history.   
The evolution of terrorism throughout the world in the 1990s, and its sudden, devastating appearance in the United States on September 11, 2001, brought a new awareness of the need for patrol and rescue boats as part of our national security strategy.   The Puget Sound response to this new threat is presented in Chapter Five.
Once again, the Coast Guard and Navy responded with new patrol forces in the Sound, and also the region’s boat builders came up with some of the most innovative, effective patrol boats in the nation.   As they had during previous wars, Puget Sound-based manufacturers won major contracts to produce fast response boats for both homeland assignment and foreign deployment.
Overall Book Summary:  For the most part, the history of military patrol and rescue boats in the nation and Puget Sound has been hidden and unknown.   This book, in factual narrative and rare, often dramatic images, seeks to reveal this fascinating story.   It is a wartime and peacetime saga about the boats, their crew members, boat builders, and also those who restore, operate and exhibit these proud vessels, which symbolize the nation’s fighting spirit of freedom.