Elco 80-foot torpedo boat PT-109 commanded by Ensign Bryant L Larson delivering 96 survivors from the sunken cruiser USS Northampton to Tulagi Harbor, Solomon Islands, 1 Dec 1942. Note the cruiser USS New Orleans at left.

Caption   Elco 80-foot torpedo boat PT-109 commanded by Ensign Bryant L Larson delivering 96 survivors from the sunken cruiser USS Northampton to Tulagi Harbor, Solomon Islands, 1 Dec 1942. Note the cruiser USS New Orleans at left. ww2dbase
Source    ww2dbaseUnited States Navy via NavSource
Identification Code   80-G-378087
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Guadalcanal Campaign   Main article  Photos  Maps  
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New Orleans   Main article  Photos  
Northampton   Main article  Photos  
Photos on Same Day 1 Dec 1942
Photos at Same Place Tulagi, Solomon Islands, British Western Pacific Territories
Added By David Stubblebine
Added Date 1 Jan 2006

This photograph has been scaled down; full resolution photograph is available here (1,496 by 856 pixels).

Licensing  Public Domain. According to the United States copyright law (United States Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105), in part, "[c]opyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government".

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
27 Jul 2020 12:37:46 PM

PT-109 picked up the survivors of USS Northampton in Dec of 1942 as included in the caption of this photo. However JFK did NOT captain PT-109 at the time, Ensign Bryant L. Larson, USNR, did. Lieutenant (jg) John Fitzgerald Kennedy, USNR, did not assume captain of Motor Torpedo Boat #109 until 24 April of 1943.
2. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
28 Jul 2020 01:38:54 PM

Anonymous (above):
Thank you for bringing to our attention that this photo was taken 4 months before John Kennedy took command of PT-109. The caption has been updated. The photo was reported to have been taken from USS Pensacola, herself badly damaged in the night action.

Upon investigating the question of PT-109’s commanding officer more thoroughly, it turns out the answer is more complicated than it ought to have been. The Navy’s official history of PT-109 says Ensign Larson commanded the boat from Jul 1942 to Apr 1943 but also says that in Dec 1942 (the time of this photo) the boat was operating under Lieutenant Rollins E Westholm. This is supported by the book *At Close Quarters* by famous PT boat skipper Robert Buckley (p 95) but the specific task of picking up Northampton survivors is not mentioned in either text. Lt Westholm was not a boat captain but was the squadron commander and both texts describe his being aboard PT-109 a week later during the action of 7-8 Dec 1942. For these reasons I have opted to caption this photo as I have but the possibility remains that the photo shows Lt Westholm at the helm.

Note cruiser USS New Orleans at left. While difficult to see, Gridley-class destroyer USS Maury is alongside New Orleans and what looks like New Orleans’ bow in the photo is actually Maury’s bow, New Orleans bow having been blown off by a torpedo the night before during the Battle of Tassafaronga in the same action where Northampton was lost.
3. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
13 Aug 2020 05:16:04 PM

One more thing about this photo: Some sources show this photo reversed right-to-left from what is seen here (including the Navy) but based on the machine gun locations on the Elco-80 PT Boat and the USS Maury war diary saying she had her port side against New Orleans, this is the correct orientation.

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Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Tulagi, Solomon Islands, British Western Pacific Territories
Lat/Long -9.0996, 160.1597

Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945