Meet the Swift Boat

Swift Boat

In 1971, the US Navy donated two Swift Boats to the newly formed Republic of Malta’s Maritime Squadron.

After forty years of coastguard duty, Malta retired these boats from service. In 2011, Malta’s Minister of Defense donated a Swift Boat to the Maritime Museum of San Diego with our promise to preserve her history and to pay tribute to all Swift Boat Sailors from both countries.

The Swift Boat Sailors Association is bringing this Swift Boat to the Maritime Museum of San Diego to be restored and operated on San Diego Bay. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to experience the sound and throbbing vibration from two V12 diesels delivering 980 horsepower for high speed runs through the Bay while retired Swift Boat Sailors and docents talk about what it was like to be a crewman in Vietnam, serving as a Quartermaster, Gunner’s Mate, Engineman, Radarman, Bosun’s Mate or Skipper.

US Navy’s Patrol Craft Fast were affectionally called Swift Boats for their speed and agility to go fast into harm’s way. Beginning in 1965 with Operation Market Time, these graceful vessels with a crew of six patrolled the coastline of South Vietnam to prevent infiltration via the sea of soldiers and munitions from North Vietnam. Their performance was so successful that the North stopped trying. In 1968 Swift Boats became a part of the Brown Water Navy, joining PBRs (Patrol Boat River) and the Mobile Riverine Force, patrolling rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta. This was Admiral Zumwalt’s successful interdiction strategy, called Operation Sea Lords, to disrupt the Viet Cong’s mobility and to make villages safe for the South Vietnamese to return to their homes.

Approximately 3,500 men served as crew or as support personal from 1965 to 1973. Fifty Swift Boat Sailors made the ultimate sacrifice. Over 350 were wounded. The Maritime Squadron in Malta lost seven men in the line of duty. Swift Boat Sailors trained at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado and cruised the San Diego Bay in route to ocean trials. There is a beautiful Vietnam Memorial Monument on this base. A PBR, a Mobile Riverine Command vessel and a Swift Boat stand facing a wall adorned with flags and engraved with names of Navy and Coast Guard men who will never be forgotten.

To all our Active Duty Personnel and those who served both the US and Malta, THANK YOU.

Fair winds,

Erica Geary

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