History of PCF 816: Vietnam to Malta to San Diego
In 1969, Vietnam Swift Boat operations expanded to include riverine patrols and crew training moved north to the Naval Inshore Operations Training Center (NIOTC) for the remained of the Vietnam War. The PCF training boats, PCF 816 among them, moved operations to San Francisco Bay and frequently transited from the bay to open waters either north or south along the Pacific coastline.
On April 5, 1971, the U.S. Navy donated two Swift Boats to the Republic of Malta’s newly formed Maritime Squadron. These two Mark II vessels, P23 and P24 had started their service in California as training vessels (PCF 813 and PCF 816). The Swift Boats worked performing security routine patrols in cooperation with Italian and various African authorities to search for and interdict contraband and illegal aliens moving from the northern coast of Africa through Malta to the coasts of southern Europe. The many coastal waterways surrounding the tri-island nation and the volume of Mediterranean traffic make security, vessel assist and rescue at sea operation a high priority for Malta.
In late August 2012, after four decades of coast guard duty in the Republic of Malta, Swift Boat P24 (originally U.S. Navy PCF 816) was returned to San Diego Bay to become part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The second Maltese boat, P23 though badly damaged in the 1984 accident, was restored to service and will remain in Malta serving as a memorial to the men who died in the country’s worst peacetime tragedy.
Click on the links above to view the photo essays for PCF 816 returning to California, restoration of this legacy, and finally the rededication of PCF 816.