Victory Day and the Magnificent Seven
September 8, is celebrated as Victory Day in Malta. This celebration observes:
- The Victory of the Great Siege of Malta by the Knights of St. John against the Turks in 1565
- Rebellion against the French troops in Malta which ended in September 1800
- Surrender of Italy, an Axis Ally of Germany, in 1943 during World War II; Germany would subsequently occupy Italy and continue to fight Allied troops advancing north through Italy but the attacks on Malta were essentially over.
With the Vietnamization program in place and the drawdown of U.S. forces underway, the last of the Swift Boats deployed in Vietnam were turned over to the South Vietnam Navy in December of 1970. There was no longer a need for PCF crew training in California and the craft employed in that training became surplus. The U.S. offered the island nation of Malta two Mark II crew training boats. In February of 1971 PCF 813 and PCF 816 were shipped to Malta and on 5 April of that year the boats were formally turned over to that country to become patrol boats in the newly formed Malta Maritime Squadron. The boats were later designated P23 and P24, respectively, and were assigned to coast guard type duty.
On 7 September 1984, Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) Patrol Boat P23 was carrying a large amount of confiscated illegal fireworks to an intended dumping spot in the Mediterranean. The fireworks somehow exploded, blowing a gaping hole in the boat’s starboard bow and foredeck, killing five MMS Sailors & two Maltese Policemen. The sole survivor was crewman Private Emmanuel Monstein.
Today, PCF 816 serves as a memorial to the 50 Americans and 7 Maltese who died while in the service of their country aboard Swift Boats. Their names are posted in the memorial section of the PCF 816 boarding area.