Hydrofoil Patrol Craft USS High Point (PCH-1)

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Hydrofoil Patrol Craft USS High Point (PCH-1)

Coastal vessel, hydrofoil torpedo boat, has small ASW torpedoes and a Bofors.

In 1958, the US Navy took an interest in hydrofoil craft as patrol and ASW boats, after concluding that conventional sub-chasers were too weak to deal with modern submarines. A hydrofoil would be able to more effectively find and attack submarines, as it would have less self-generated noise compared to a conventional ship to have greater sonar performance, and would then be able to “sprint” on its foils to a new position or attack. The resulting design would put the sonar in a retractable pole amidships, which would protect it from damage while foil-borne. Additionally it would be the first US warship to be mainly powered by gas turbines, with 2 British gas turbines driving the foil-borne propellers.

The PC(H) would be ordered in 1960, with 22 more planned. Ultimately only the first boat would be built due to budget cutes, named USS High Point. It was built by the Boeing corporation, the first in their many hydrofoil craft, and was completed in 1963. The ship was armed with 4 torpedoes and a twin machine gun, much lighter than the proposals which called for a 20mm Vulcan and a recoilless rifle. The ship had significant issues, and it was found to have serious steering and structural issues while foil-borne. The ship underwent a major repair and refit in 1964, with a larger rudder installed, more instrumentation added, and various structural coatings tested. The ship was tested again in 1966, and found to be satisfactory, though it would only be used as an experimental vessel. In 1968 the frontal MGs were replaced with a 40mm Bofors, and it took part in high-speed tests, successfully firing torpedoes at max speed. The Bofors would then be dismounted. Later on it was refitted into the “Mod 1” configuration, with stronger struts and a moveable front foil to replace the rudder. In 1974, it was used to test the Harpoon SSM system planned for the upcoming Pegasus-class hydrofoils. It was also lent to the Coast Guard in 1975 for testing as they were interested in hydrofoil craft. The ship would be decommissioned in 1979, but was retained to test equipment. it was finally sold in 1990 to a private owner and languished around through the years. It was put on sale again in 2019, with its buyer planning to restore the ship. However that didn’t happen, and the High Point was scrapped.

Specifications: (1968)

1x1 40mm Bofors L/60 Mk.3 in Naval Ordnance Laboratory experimental stabilized mount
2x2 324mm Mod. Mk.32 TT (4 Mk.44 or Mk.46 torpedoes)

94 tons standard
126 tons full

Length: 35.4m

Beam: 9.75m

Draft: 1.8m (foil-borne) or 2.4m (hull-borne)

Propulsion: 2 Bristol-Siddeley Proteus 1273 gas turbines + 1 Packard diesel engine, 6800 + 600 hp, driving 4 pod propellers (foil-borne) + 1 outdrive (hull-borne)

Speed: 12 knots (hull-borne) or 45 knots (foil-borne) (22.2 - 83.3 km/h)

Range: 2000 nmi (at 12 knots)

Crew: 13

Navigation radar
AN/SQS-33 sonar, retractable


Boeing PCH 1 High Point 2

High Point testing the Harpoon, note the empty space for a bow gun, and the 4 covered torpedo tubes.

Note the MG mount on the superstructure that didn’t made it onto the finished ship
Boeing PCH 1 High Point
https://youtu.be/zQ2sSRBMPqs - section at 12:05 with High Point footage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAn-LSCOxYo - surprisingly has a lot of High Point footage, specifically when it was fitted with a 40mm

Friedman, N. (1987). Postwar ASW Craft. In U.S. Small Combatants: Including PT-Boats, Subchasers, and the Brown-Water Navy: An Illustrated Design History (pp. 210-215). Naval Institute Press.
Gardiner, R., Chumbley, S., & Budzbon, P. (1995). USA. In Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1995 (p. 624). Naval Institute Press.
Sayers, K. (2021). Patrol Craft-Hydrofoil. In U.S. Navy Patrol Vessels (pp. 134-139). McFarland.



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A +1 from me, especially considering Ex-High Point was sadly recently scrapped after restoration plans fell through


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Wah, when did that happen?

Sadly around a month ago. With Ex-High Point’s scrapping though that leaves Ex-Aries (PHM-5) as the last surviving USN Hydrofoil.

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