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President’s PT-Boat Incident of 1943 Described as “Confused and Ineffective”

Feb. 26, 1963 - The World War II naval engagement that saw Lieutenant John F. Kennedy’s patrol boat sunk has drawn a description as a confused and ineffective action. The Director of Naval History released a book today covering the operation of Navy patrol boats (PT boats) in the war. Captain Robert J. Bulkley Jr., who wrote the book, in no way detracts from previous accounts of President Kennedy’s heroism as a lieutenant. As a matter of fact, the book carries a foreword by Mr. Kennedy. But it does show he found himself in the middle of a roaring mix-up in an encounter joined buy 15 American PT boats on Aug. 1 and 2, 1943 — an action the author says quickly developed into furious confusion as the boats sought to intercept four Japanese destroyers off Kilomdangara. “The chief fault of the PT’s was that they didn’t pass the word,” the book says. “Each boat attacked independently, leaving the others to discover the enemy for themselves.”

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