Factory Photographs


These are early versions of the PT 71-94 series 78-foot boats built by New Orleans-based Higgins Industries, Inc. I feel that the Higgins boat is the ugly duckling of the mosquito fleet; it has been referred to as 'the box with a point at one end', or even less unflatteringly, 'the crate our boat came in.' The boat isn't as graceful as either the 77' or 80' Elco, but this only reflects and enhances the reputation of Higgins Industries as a builder of stout, reliable workboats. These builder's photos are from the National Archives, and show the boats in several stages of construction. What is interesting is these are rare photos of these early series boats as they were originally designed.

These boats were to be placed in service with MTB Squadron Thirteen, commissioned in New Orleans on September 18, 1942, and slated to be posted in the Aleutian Islands. The boats were not satisfactory, especially in the matter of top speed. Lt. James B. Denny, commander of Squadron Thirteen, and Lt. Richard J. Dressling, officer in charge of the torpedo boat commissioning detail at New Orleans, made many recommendations to the builders for removal of excess weight, and redesign and rearrangement of equipment. The recommendations were approved by the Bureau of Ships, and thereafter incorporated into the standard design of the early series Higgins boats. The necessity for alterations meant that Squadron Thirteen's first six boats did not leave New Orleans for the first leg of their Aleutian adventure until November 30, 1942, and the second six did not leave until December 17.

Copyright © 2002-2013 by Gene Kirkland