- Historic Sites
PT658 was built at the Higgins Industries Boatworks in New Orleans. The keel was laid down 2-24-45, launched on 4-11-45 and completed on July 30, 1945. The boat was originally slated to be part of Squadron (RON) 45, which was never placed in commission. It was to consist of 11 Higgins PT's 649-660, and 11 Elco PT's 773-784 and assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Near the war's end in mid 1945, RON45 was scheduled to be "Lend-Leased" to the USSR. Several boats in the group (649 to 656) were already shipped to Russia when the transfer was halted; just before PT 657-660 were to be sent over. The Elco construction contract was also canceled at this time. PT657-660 had been moved from New Orleans to Seattle on an LST, where they would be piggybacked onto a transport ship bound for Russia. When the war ended in September 1945 the shipment was stopped and the boats returned to Port Hueneme, CA. All four boats were Reclassified as "Small Boat" C105342,3,4 and 5 (Crash Rescue Boat) in August 1946, and were then assigned to the Bureau of Aeronautics as a "Remote Controlled Target" at Naval Air Facility, Pt Mugu, CA. (ex-PT660 was actually sunk as a target by a "Bullpup" missile off Port Hueneme in the early 1990’s.) PT658 was reclassified again as "Floating Equipment" in Dec 3, 1948. Ten years later, on June 30, 1958; PT658 was sold off as "war surplus" by the US Navy to a private owner.
Higgins 78' boats were periodically updated and reconfigured for the missions they were call upon to perform during World War 2. These boats also took on a "gun boat" configuration, rather then their traditional torpedo role, because of the nature of wartime tactics in the Pacific. Many PT boats were given the task of harassing and destroying enemy troop supply barges in shallow waters at night, since our larger destroyers would run aground in the shallow coastal waters. The PT boats became "Barge Busters" with their relentless attacks on the enemy barges used to supply and ferry the enemy from island to island. They were also called upon to support troop landings and downed pilot rescues. Higgins boats played a large role in the Mediterranean, combating enemy shipping; including duels with German E-boats, S-Boats (Schnellbooten) and heavily armored and armed barges known as F-lighters.