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On maintenance of Vietnam War era small craft, including Patrol Boat River (PBR) and Patrol Craft Fast (PCF, also known as Swift Boats).
Originally a public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
Patrol Boat, River or PBR, is the United States Navy designation for a small rigid-hulled patrol boat used in the Vietnam War from March 1966 until the end of 1971. They were deployed in a force that grew to 250 boats, the most common craft in the River Patrol Force, Task Force 116, and were used to stop and search river traffic in areas such as the Mekong Delta, the Rung Sat Special Zone, the Saigon River and in I Corps, in the area assigned to Task Force Clearwater, in an attempt to disrupt weapons shipments. In this role they frequently became involved in firefights with enemy soldiers on boats and on the shore, were used to insert and extract Navy SEAL teams, and were employed by the United States Army’s 458th Transportation Company, known as the 458th Seatigers.
The PBR was a versatile boat with a fiberglass hull and water jet drive which enabled it to operate in shallow, weed-choked rivers. It drew only two feet of water fully loaded. The drives could be pivoted to reverse direction, turn the boat in its own length, or come to a stop from full speed in a few boat lengths.
The PBR was manufactured in two versions, the first with 31 foot length and 10 foot, 7 inch beam. The Mark II version 32 feet (9.8 m) long and one foot wider beam, had improved drives to reduce fouling, and aluminum gunwales to resist wear. It usually operated with four enlisted men, of which the most senior crewman was designated the Boat Captain. Often, however, a junior officer would be assigned as Patrol Officer of two boats.
The boats were powered by dual 220 hp (164 kW) Detroit Diesel 6V53N engines with Jacuzzi Brothers pump-jet drives. The boats reached top speeds of 28.5 knots (53 km/h).
The boat were heavily armed for such a small vehicle crewed by just four persons. It was armed with twin M2HB .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns forward in a rotating tub, as well as a single rear .50 cal, and side-mounted M60 7.62 mm machine gun and a Mk 19 grenade launcher. Sometimes a 20 mm cannon was mounted. By comparison, much larger WWII 80 ft PT boats which were later employed as gunboats had two twin .50 cal turrets, and 20 or 40 mm cannons, while small land vehicles such as the Humvee or M113 APC typically mount 1 .50 cal machine gun or even less. The machine gunners were protected with small ceramic armor gunshields, as well as the bridge area. The boats relied on speed and firepower for protection rather than the minimal armor fit…
The TV series entitled Great Ships, sometimes shown on The Military Channel, History Channel and Discovery Channel, has one episode covering riverine warfare. Live footage showing some of the riverine boats is used, but tall metal electric power lines are visible in the background of the speeding PBRs. Additionally, blank firing adapters on the M2 machine guns, 1980s-era Woodland Pattern Battle Dress Uniforms and crew members wearing “K-Pot” Kevlar helmets confirm that the film is not from Vietnam-era combat operations. Although not mentioned by the narrator, these scenes are of U.S. Navy Reservists undergoing training at Mare Island, California.
A PBR is a usable vehicle in Battlefield: Vietnam and Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam.
A PBR driven by Alex Mason and his MACV-SOG team in Call of Duty: Black Ops on a mission up river into Laos.
A PBR is the setting for much of the action in the film Apocalypse Now…
Patrol Craft Fast (PCF), also known as Swift Boats, were all-aluminum, 50-foot (15 m) long, shallow-draft vessels operated by the United States Navy, initially to patrol the coastal areas and later for work in the interior waterways as part of the brown-water navy to interdict Vietcong movement of arms and munitions, transport Vietnamese forces and insert SEAL teams for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations during the Vietnam War…