One of the nation’s last remaining MK1 River Patrol Boats (PBR) will be getting a facelift thanks to a dedicated team of professionals who have partnered with Patriots Point to donate their time, expertise and funding to transport, repair and repaint the historic vessel.
Patriots Point’s MK1 PBR first arrived to the museum in 1989. In 1993, Patriots Point opened the Vietnam Naval Support Base Camp – a true-to-scale exhibit that shows the operational and living areas of a U.S. Naval Advanced Tactical Support Base (ATSB) during the Vietnam War. Nearly 25 years of exposure to the elements have taken a toll on the historic boat and she is in need of repair.
This month, volunteers will remove the PBR from its current location at Patriots Point, hoisting the boat onto a trailer that will transport it to Pierside Boatworks for repairs. The team will remove old paint, conduct fiberglass repairs, prime and repaint the boat, and install new canvas before returning the PBR to Patriots Point’s Vietnam Support Base.
The month-long project – estimated to cost $30,000 – would not be possible without generous support from Allstate Crane (crane), Big Dog Marine (boat hauling), Interlux (bottom paint), Engineered Marine Coatings (topside paint), Reg Brown (canvas), The Royal Touch Marine Services (lettering), West Marine (parts and supplies) and Pierside Boatworks (labor).
“I was asked by Patriots Point staff to come over and develop an estimate for the repairs to the PBR boat,” said Dave Coker, General Manager at Pierside Boatworks and one of the leaders of this project. “Once I saw it and listened to staff explain the lengthy process to get public funding, I was hoping to get some of it donated to lessen the task of raising the money. That sparked the idea of getting our yard and our suppliers involved in a community project. What better way to show our appreciation for our veterans than to fix up a part of their history. We will all feel good at the end of the day for our efforts.”
“We are extremely grateful for the generous initiative of Pierside Boatworks and their team,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette. “With only one other MK1 PBR remaining in the United States, it is especially important that we preserve this vessel, which played a significant role in our nation’s military history.”
“As we look to the future of Patriots Point, we look forward to the PBR playing a significant role,” Burdette continued. “We are currently in the process of developing a master plan for a new and exciting “Vietnam Experience” at our museum and the MK1 PBR will be the centerpiece.”
PBRs saw action during Vietnam – from 1965 through 1971 – as the US Navy supported ground troops and counterinsurgency operations along a vast network of waterways. The primary mission of the “Brown Water Navy” was to block the movement of insurgents and their supplies into and within South Vietnam. This included keeping sea lanes open to Saigon, boarding and inspecting watercraft, intercepting gun runners and supplies to the Viet Cong, and conducting psychological operations.