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The Ride of a Lifetime: The National WWII Museum’s PT-305 Boat

In a dynamic, continual effort to both explore and represent the United States’ involvement in the conflict that changed the contours of the modern world, the National World War II Museum—located on Andrew Higgins Drive in the CBD—has added another outstanding attraction to its already rich collection: “PT-305—The Ride of a Lifetime.”

(The restored PT-305. Photo credit: WWII Museum on Facebook.)

In offering visitors the opportunity to ride on the PT (patrol torpedo) boat—which is a small, fast attack craft that was employed by the U.S. Navy to engage with enemy warships, transport boats, tankers, and barges—the museum has created an immersive, physical experience that is the culmination of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, millions of dollars in donations and in-house funding, and, most importantly, more than a decade of hard work. Beginning on Apr. 1, visitors will be able to ride on PT-305, a restored vessel that was originally found at a boat yard in Galveston, Texas and was promptly acquired by the museum. As the only completely restored combat-veteran PT boat operating today, the PT-305 is a unique fragment of world military history.

Part of the generation of watercraft that followed the original torpedo boats, the PT boats developed during World War II were a true evolution: thanks to advances in hull design (drawing from offshore powerboat racing) and engine technology the PT boat by the 1940s was faster and bigger. Essentially, they were more efficient as weapons of destruction for the U.S. Navy, and they rightfully earned the two nicknames—”devil boats” and “the mosquito fleet”—bestowed upon them by the Japanese end of the Axis of Evil.

(The original crew aboard PT-305. Photo credit: WWII Museum on Facebook.)

As with the WWII AirPower Expo, where the museum allows the public to interact with a range of restored military aircraft, getting aboard the PT-305 is the rare time where you can inhabit the real spaces of our servicemen at war. And the local links are essential to this experience: PT-305 was built by Higgins Industries in New Orleans, used throughout the Mediterranean during the war, and returned to the Gulf Coast as a fishing vessel before her restoration. For your chance to step aboard history, you can book a 45-minute deck tour or a boat tour out onto the waters of Lake Pontchartrain—whatever you choose, access your ride into history here.

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