General Quarters Assignments

General Quarters … as distinct from Board & Search … was manned when there was a possibility of combat outside of a Board & Search scenario.  Possible scenarios included (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) Operations
  • Maritime blocking operations when under the operational command of Army or Marine Corps units ashore
  • Transit of a hostile shore line
  • Harassment & Interdiction (H&I) operations
  • Insertion/extraction of special units (SEALs RUFF/PUFFS, etc.)
  • Ambush operations
  • Combat salvage operations.


  • Officer in Charge
    • As discussed above
    • Overall command of evolution
    • Pre boarding coordination with other forces as required
    • Real time realignment of Crew resources as required
    • Appropriate approach
    • Employing rules of engagement to advantage of Crew & Craft
    • Leadership under fire
    • Use of personal weapon(s)
    • Coordination of supporting arms
    • Destruction of the enemy force
    • Break off under favorable terms
    • Medical treatment of Crew casualties
    • Craft damage control
    • Post combat restoration of Crew & Craft
    • Report lessons learned
  • Helmsman
    • As discussed above
    • Response to various loss of propulsion/steering casualties
  • Look Out/Machine Gunner (Mount 51)
    • As discussed above
    • Quick draw use of Mount 51 (in accordance with Rules of Engagement)
  • Gunner (Mount 52)
    • Quick draw use of Mount 52 (in accordance with the Rules of Engagement)
    • Fantail supervision under combat (after conn, engine performance, rearming, combat first aid, responding to man overboard, etc.)
  • Assistant Gunner (Mount 52) :Support Mt 52 Gunner


Five by Six

The above discussion of General Quarters Job Descriptions summarizes five positions for a Swift Boat Crew of six.  Initially the sixth crewmember was somewhat of a floater … perhaps performing the duties of a radio operator or helping to provide ammunition resupply to trigger pullers or firing an individual weapon or providing combat first aid.  In any case, there was more than enough for six Swift Boat Sailors to do during a fire fight.

When operations SEALORDS (Southeast Asia Lake Ocean River Delta Strategy) kicked off in the fall of 1968, M-60 Machine Guns were officially added to the Table of Equipment (TOE) for PCFs.  Subsequently, the sixth PCF crewmember would typically man an M-60, often in the peak tank on the focsle.  His job description was to engage the enemy with the M-60 and other arms (such as the M-16) and to act as an under watch (water level) lookout.