Saturday, July 31, 2004

Explain this one to me

I grew up with the legend of JFK and PT 109. Or the movie, anyway. It was long, but I liked it when I was little.

I don't recall seeing it playing on TV for a while now, so I suppose it's possible that twenty- and possibly thirty-somethings don't know the story. It seems that JFK's craft was rammed broadside by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri, which cut it in two.

What happened later was tough on JFK and the crew, but all but two of them survived. But how did they wind up in that situation in the first place?

In particular, how did a small craft that could go at 45 knots get hit broadside by a comparatively monstrous destroyer? They were operating in Blackett Strait, which is narrow by ocean standards but still left plenty of room to maneuver. It's as if a human being were hit by a semi traveling at walking pace - it wouldn't be too hard to stay out of the way. It's hard to see how PT 109 could have suffered such a fate without gross failure by the commanding officer - IMO they would have done better with Joseph Hazelwood.

But I know jack squat about issues nautical and thought maybe some of you naval types might have comments.

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