The 'real story' of the USS Plainview

Launched in 1965, the USS Plainview was once the most advanced ship in the U.S. Navy, able to travel at speeds of 50 knots or more.

HUNGRY HARBOR - The question has been asked thousands of times. What is that ship? The answers have been many and very diverse. Most sturgeon and salmon fishermen fishing above the bridge, on the Washington side of the river have all viewed the derelict vessel beached by Hungry Harbor. In the latter half of this past summer a barge moved to the site and started dismantling the shoreline icon.

To enlighten readers about the facts surrounding this vessel, we turn to excerpts from a report by Peter Marsh of the Fresh Water Boating News.

The Plainview, was once the most advanced ship in the U.S. Navy and was able to rise out of the water on three foils, 10 feet above the waves and travel at speeds of 50 knots and more, and was probably the fastest ship in the world for its size. Launched in 1965, it was the largest aluminum vessel and hydrofoil in the world.

The Kennedy administration needed a long-range patrol boat that could maintain the same speed as a Russian nuclear sub even in bad weather. The 320-ton vessel, weighted down with depth charges, torpedoes and 30,000 gallons of fuel, could still make 50 knots. It also carried two GMC 871 diesel engines for low-speed operations up to 13 knots; for high speeds, two General Electric LM-1,700 HP gas turbines (used to power the Phantom fighter jets at the time) were located amidships. The low bid for the project was $12 million by Lockheed Shipbuilding Co. An experimental prototype for the Navy, it turned out to be a technological dead end.

The Plainview was brought here from Puget Sound in 1978 by Lowell Stanbaugh, an Astoria boatbuilder and for 10 years sat by his shop on the shore of Young's Bay. His plan to convert it into a fish processor soon fell victim to the changing fortunes of the salmon industry. When he moved his shop, he towed The Plainview across to the Washington shore and beached it near Hungry Harbor.

Now almost 40 years after she was launched, she is being sold for scrap.

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