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United States Naval Operations Vietnam, Highlights; April 1966

Map - North Vietnam Route Numbers
North Vietnam Route Numbers
Summary Market Time Operations
Air Operations River Patrol Force
NVN Route Packages Naval Advisory Group
MIGs Military Construction
Air Losses Harbor Clearance
Naval Gunfire Support Salvage
USS CARRONADE (IFS 1) Fires Rocket at Viet Cong Target Intelligence
Amphibious Operations Communications
Ordnance and Maintenance Problems Personnel Posture
Supply Shanghai Class PTF - Proved in Combat
Establishment of U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam (NAVFORV) Chaplain Activities
Chain of Command, Including COMNAVFORV, 1 April 1966 Marine Operations
Admiral Ward Reports for Duty as COMNAVFORV to General William C. Westmoreland, COMUSMACV Lessons Learned
Coastal Surveillance Force Appendix

Summary

A political crisis developed in South Vietnam during the early part of April that threatened the entire war effort against the enemy. It stemmed from the firing of General THI, I Corps Commander, by the military directorate that was headed by. Premier KY.

Following Buddhist-led riots in Danang and elsewhere, Premier KY promised to hold elections for a new civilian government within five months. By the end of April the political situation had returned to near "normal" for South Vietnam, even though the truce between the Buddhists and the Government remained uneasy.

The net effect of the crisis on the military effort was to slow down the flow of supplies in the areas of greatest disturbance such as Danang. It also almost eliminated coordinated U.S. and RVN military operations, but had little effect on military operations by U.S. forces alone.

A change in concept for air operations in North Vietnam resulted in establishing fixed operating areas for the Navy and the Air Force. MIGs became more active, but air losses were still predominantly to AA fire. The Navy had its worst month to date in this respect -- 21 aircraft lost with 15 pilots and crews.

Much of the bombing emphasis was in the Vinh-Ben Thuy complex due to poor weather further north. However, more was in the planning; and when the weather broke on 19 April, two A6As from KITTY HAWK executed an imaginative low level radar attack on the Uong Bi thermal power plant north of Haiphong. This attack, which achieved total surprise, was followed by strikes against a railroad yard at Cam Pha, 35 miles south of the CHICOM border, and the Haiphong and Hai Duong bridges.

Navy gunfire saw increased use of 5"/54 batteries on certain destroyers and, for the first time, the use of rockets by Inshore Fire Support Division 93. In one week, for example, CARRONADE (IFS 1) and ST. FRANCIS RIVER (LSMR 525) fired 1,660 5-inch rockets against Viet Cong targets. New techniques added to the old, plus education of the other services in the capabilities and limitations of naval gunfire support, caused this concentrated and swiftly mobile power from the sea to become increasingly effective.

Operation JACKSTAY ended early in the month and was noted as the first large scale coordinated operation involving U.S. Marines from SEVENTH Fleet ships and RVN Marines. Opposition was light, and so were the casualties; but many weapons and ammunition were discovered and captured.

Another coordinated amphibious operation took place toward the end of April and continued into May. It was known as Operation OSAGE, a rice harvest protection, search and clear action, north of Danang.

Problems, of course, were everywhere, but the air munitions shortage came to a crisis in April. Most critical were:

MK 81 bomb AERO 7D pod
ANM-57 bomb LAU-10 pod
ANM-81/88 bomb ZUNI rocket motors
MK 82 bomb MK 77-2 firebomb

ANM-64 bomb

ZUNI warhead

MK 83 bomb

MK 24 paraf1are

ANM-65 bomb

CBU 2A/A bomb

LAU 3A/A pod

MK 2 impulse CTF

As a result, CINCPAC took charge of the allocations of air ordnance in the Pacific to each service, in order to strengthen the total air strike effort. This resulted in the transfer of several thousand tons of bombs from the Navy to the Air Force.

Aircraft maintenance and procurement were other problems caused in part by more flying per aircraft than was originally anticipated. For example, deployed F-8 squadrons reported 66.6 flight hours per aircraft per month which was more than twice the number of hours planned. The lead time required to increase the spare parts flow, of course, had not caught up with increasing demands of the war.

The period of civil unrest in northern RVN during the first eleven days of April resulted in an estimated loss of 30,000 measurement tons (M/T) of through-put during the month. Despite this fact, April was the second highest cargo handling month, exceeded only by March. On 26 April, a new daily record of 9,795 M/T of through-put was attained. The following is a summary of cargo operations for the period 1 through 30 April:

DAN
ANG
CHU
LAI
Short Tons.
Meas. Tons.
Short Tons.
Meas. Tons.
OFFLOAD
77,544
145,659
18,526
29,159
BACKLOAD
11,917
25,659
1,525
5,137
TOTAL
89,461
171,318
20,051
34,296

A new major Pacific Fleet command, U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam (NAVFORV) was established 1 April to coordinate under COMUSMACV's operational control all U.S. Naval Forces in South Vietnam, including MARKET TIME, but not the III MAF. This was necessary because of the large increase of naval forces and facilities in South Vietnam.

MARKET TIME units recorded their highest level of activity since the activation of the Coastal Surveillance Force (CTF 115) on 30 July 1965. In fact more vessels were inspected, boarded and searched in the three month period ending 1 May (68,017) than during the first six months that CTF 115 was in existence (29,948). The TEE SHOT patrol concept, based on a concentration of MARKET TIME units to prevent VC from escaping to sea was applied twice during the month. Likewise, two ROUNDUP operations were employed which involved concentrated searches of junks in specific areas. The evaluation was generally successful.

Operation GAME WARDEN entered its tyro stage as the first PBRs became operational and patrolled the waters of the Rung Sat Special Zone. Crew performance was regarded as excellent, but some design problems arose in the boats themselves.

Naval advisors continued to work with all units of the Vietnamese Navy. As usual, performance of some VNN commanding officers was criticized, even though others displayed a high degree of professional competence. There were isolated cases of some commanding officers refusing to accept any advice. New officers, however, were gradually replacing the unfit and recalcitrant ones and as a result, leadership in the Vietnamese Navy overall, was showing improvement. This was reflected in their operations.

The Navy construction program, designed to meet the requirements of naval and marine forces in the country, called for major projects to include port construction in Danang, Chu Lai, Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, Vung Tau and Cam Ranh Bay to complement the port of Saigon. Ten deep draft piers are planned in these locations by the end of October. In addition, permanent airfield complexes are in various stages of completion at Cam Ranh, Qui Nhon, Chu Lai and Danang.

At a meeting of the COMUSMACTHAI Facilities Review Board, the Sattahip Naval Base construction program was determined. Included in the program are POL, new ports, a communications station, sea patrol, air patrol and air cargo facilities.

In hospital construction the casualty rate planning figure of 1.8/l000/day was adopted. This permitted some reduction in the hospital construction previously planned for Guam and Subic Bay.

CANBERRA became the first Navy ship to make operational use of a satellite communications relay. She passed 50 operational, logistic, and administrative messages almost 40,000 miles through space from her station in the South China Sea to NAVCOMMSTA Honolulu.

Naval forces ashore in Vietnam on 25 April were 14,267. Forces afloat on SEVENTH Fleet ships and at supporting shore activities were 97,261, for a total Navy effort of over 110,000 sailors and marines participating directly in the war.

During April the Marines conducted a record number of over 13,000 small unit operations aimed at destroying the guerrilla infrastructure. At the same time 14 air/ground operations of multi-battalion size were directed against the enemy's Main Force strength.

Aviation units of the Marines were equally active, flying nearly 40,000 helicopter sorties, which was 6,000 more than in March. Fixed wing squadrons flew over 5,000 combat sorties.

"Lessons Learned" in April included those from JACKSTAY which had to do with logistics and communications. Also, since some units were required to operate almost continuously in swamp terrain, medical studies of this were made, including the length of time before a Marine would suffer from "immersion foot."

In air operations the need for photographic intelligence immediately prior to a strike was emphasized again. Radar directed bombing was temporarily put on the shelf, and CINCPAC gave a "looser" interpretation of the "Rules of Engagement" as they pertained to the new MIG activity. Finally, because survival radios were not performing as well as desired, a goal was established of providing two radios per pilot and each crewmember.

Air Operations

On 1 April, HANCOCK joined ENTERPRISE at YANKEE Station to begin a month of increased pressure against Hanoi during which time the Navy would bomb the northeast quadrant of North Vietnam for the first time since the Christmas stand-down.

April was also a month, like March, of bad weather which restricted the planned air attacks in the North. However, this was not noted in the statistics, because there were 800 more attack than in March.

This month also saw a modification of the manner in which ROLLING THUNDER targets were assigned. From the beginning of ROLLING THUNDER Operations in March 1965 until the following fall, the Air Force and the Navy had shared the time of the 24-hour clock over their targets. According to Navy, however, who liked to recover aircraft every hour and a half around the clock, efficient time-splitting of a day or night was difficult to achieve. Therefore, in the fall of 1965, at Navy's urging, North Vietnam was divided into six "route package areas" which the Navy and Air Force split between them but alternated every week. On 3 April, however, this procedure was modified further by Navy receiving permanent assignment of areas Two, Three, Four, and Six Bravo, and the Air Force having responsibility for targets in the others.

Down at DIXIE Station, KITTY HAWK arrived in time to relieve HANCOCK before she moved north. Here, KITTY HAWK immediately began to average 90 sorties a day in support of JACKSTAY, the amphibious operation in the Rung Sat Special Zone, and other in-country assignments.

Because of the, weather, much of the Navy ROLLING THUNDER emphasis during the month was applied to the Vinh-Ben Thuy complex in which a variety of lucrative targets was available. On just one strike early in the month near Vinh, HANCOCK and ENTERPRISE planes took in their sights ammo storage areas, two naval bases, POL storage and

Map - NVN Route Packages
NVN Route Packages

transshipment zones, various bridges, an army headquarters, and a railroad yard with associated repair shops. Also, roads were cratered, buildings destroyed, trucks blown up, and barges and junks sunk.

Along the coast Navy planes also found gainful targets in large concentrations of junks. North of Vinh at Cape Falaise was one particularly good location, and here, one attack produced secondary explosions with smoke rising to 2,000 feet.

As an example of targets available in April, Navy and Air Force planes in one week destroyed or damaged the following "observed" structures -- observed, because weather and smoke made assessment impossible in some cases:

Destroyed
Damaged
Buildings and warehouses
65
61
Storage areas
0
5

Bridges

13
45

Ferries

0
1

Junks & Boats

31
64

Barges

8
4

Road segments

0
45

Railroad segments

0
16

Vehicles

22
13

Railroad cars

13
13

Automatic weapon sites

9
4
Truck parks
0
2
Construction areas
0
1

There was more in the planning, however, and on 19 April, just before midnight, two A6As from KITTY HAWK executed an imaginative low level radar attack on the Uong Bi thermal power plant north of Haiphong. They expended 26,000 pounds of ordnance, and large secondary explosions, accompanied by fires and showers of sparks, were observed simultaneously with the extinguishing of all lights in a wide arc around Haiphong. Apparently, total surprise had been achieved as there was no enemy opposition except for scattered ground fire after the first bomb detonations.

This successful attack was followed the next day by surprise strikes against the previously unstruck railroad yards in the vicinity of Cam Pha, northeast of Haiphong and 35 miles south of the CHICOM border. More than 41 tons of bombs and air-to-ground rockets were delivered here against the railroads, a water pumping station, and a coal-treatment plant. Numerous fires and explosions resulted. AA fire was moderate at first but was quickly silenced by flak-suppression aircraft.

Weather turned bad again, but not before word was received that TICONDEROGA and KITTY HAWK aircraft had successfully dropped spans on the Haiphong and Hai Duong bridges. Each was over 1,000 feet long and an integral link in the North Vietnamese transportation system.

For the first ten days of the month TICONDEROGA had been briefly at Subic and then Hong Kong. On 12 April, however, both she and KITTY HAWK joined ENTERPRISE, marking the only day in the month when three CVAs were at YANKEE. HANCOCK was temporarily off the line, and RANGER, who had relieved KITTY the day before, was at DIXIE.

ENTERPRISE relaxed in Philippine waters right after the arrival at YANKEE of TICONDEROGA and KITTY HAWK. Then she returned to YANKEE on the 21st so that TICONDEROGA could depart for San Diego after 112 days on the line and some 10,000 sorties against the enemy.

On the 28th, RANGER moved up to YANKEE as ENTERPRISE moved south to DIXIE. HANCOCK came back to YANKEE from nine days rest in Sasebo; and these were the positions of TF 77 carriers at the end of the month.

MIGs

The North Vietnamese MIGs became more active in April than they had been heretofore. In addition to the CHICOM's probable shoot-down of the KITTY HAWK A-3B tanker near Hainan Island on 12 April, Air Force F-4Cs and F-l05s were engaged on nine separate occasions north of Hanoi. In all of these confrontations against both MIG 17s and 21s, 27 SIDEWINDERS and three SPARROWS were fired resulting in kills of one MIG 21 and five MIG 17s. Another MIG 21 was regarded as a possible.

There were no Navy engagements with the MIGs at this time, but the Air Force poor hit ratio is similar to a Navy experience of a year ago. At that time four F-4Bs fought against an unknown number of MIG l7s near Hainan Island. The F-4s fired six SPARROW missiles and three SIDEWINDERS without success. All SPARROWS failed to function properly, and the only SIDEWINDER that did fire properly was outmaneuvered by the MIG it was chasing. There were no kills scored by the F-4s, one of which failed for unknown reasons to return to its ship. As a result of this engagement in April 1965, an investigation was made of the weapons systems of the units involved and the design and performance of all Navy SPARROW and SIDEWINDER missile systems. The investigation revealed:

  1. Some missile components were susceptible to damage or malfunction in normal handling and had to be redesigned.
  2. A lack of emphasis on the air-to-air role due to heavy air-to-ground operations was indicated in the poor material condition of some missiles and aircraft systems.
  3. The AIM 9B SIDEWINDER, after subsequent operational testing, was to be ineffective against high speed maneuvering targets pulling 3Gs or greater.

Immediate action was taken to correct all the known problems, including the immediate replacement of AIM 9B SIDEWINDERs by a 9D model with proven success against maneuvering targets.

Air Losses

During April, 21 naval aircraft were lost, 15 pilots and crew killed or missing, and 15 others rescued. Nineteen of the aircraft were lost on attack sorties over North Vietnam. This was the highest number of aircraft lost in any single month thus far and is summarized below:


DATE

AIRCRAFT

MISSION

SHIP
PILOT
(LOST/MISS)
CREW
(LOST/MISS)
3 Apr
F-8C (131)
R.T.
HAN
1 (87)
9 Apr
RF-8A (132)
R.T.
HAN
1 (88)
12 Apr
KA-3B (133)**
OTHER
K.H.
1 (89)
3(24, 25, 26)
13 Apr
A-1H (134)***
R.T.
TICO
1 (90)
17 Apr
A-4E (135)
R.T.
TICO
R
17 Apr
A-6A (136)
R.T.
K.H.
R
R
17 Apr
A-1H (137)
R.T.
K.H.
1 (91)
18 Apr
A-1H (138)
R.T.
TICO
R
19 Apr
RF-8A (139)
R.T.
TICO
R
19 Apr
F-8E (140)
R.T.
TICO
R
Note:



Figures in parentheses are totals.
**Probably shot down by MIGs.
***First A-I shot down by SAM.
R Stands for RESCUED.

DATE

AIRCRAFT

MISSION

SHIP
PILOT
(LOST/MISS)
CREW
(LOST/MISS)
20 Apr
A-4C (141)
R.T.
K.H.
1 (92)
20 Apr
A-4C (142)
R.T.
K.H.
R
21 Apr
A-6A (143)
R.T.
K.H.
1 (93)
1 (27)
22 Apr
A-6A (144)
R.T.
K.H.
1 (94)
1 (28)
23 Apr
A-4E (145)
I-C
RANGER
R
26 Apr
F-4B (146)
R.T.
K.H.
R
R
27 Apr
A-6A (147)
R.T.
K.H.
R
R
28 Apr
F-4B (148)
R.T.
K.H.
R
R
29 Apr
F-8E (149)
R.T.
HAN
1 (95)
29 Apr
A-1H (150)
R.T.
HAN
1 (96)
30 Apr
A-4E (151)
R.T.
RANGER
R

Total losses in South Vietnam, Laos, and North Vietnam from June 1964 to the end of April were 151 aircraft lost to the enemy or unknown causes in a hostile area, and 96 pilots and 28 crew killed or missing. Another 73 were rescued.

Naval Gunfire Support

SEVENTH Fleet Naval Gunfire Support units continued to prove their versatility against many types of targets during the month of April. Units employed on NGFS included not only destroyers and cruisers, but for the first time, newcomers from the Amphibious Force. These were the Inshore Fire Support ship CARRONADE (IFS 1) and the Landing Ship, Medium (Rockets) ST. FRANCIS RIVER (LSMR 525) which arrived in the Western Pacific as members of Inshore Fire Support Division NINETY-THREE. During one seven day period the shore bombardment force fired 6,802 rounds of 5, 6 and 8 inch projectiles and 1,660 rockets against Viet Cong targets in all four Corps areas of South Vietnam. U.S. Army ARVN Advisors reported outstanding accuracy and quick response.

Indicative of the trend of operations during the month was the list of ships assigned to gunfire support during the first two days of the month. In order to take advantage of the long range and fast-firing capability of the 5"/54 caliber guns, the guided missile destroyers LYNDE MCCORMICK (DDG 8) and ROBISON (DDG 12) and the destroyer RICHARD S. EDWARDS (DD 950) were assigned. The older destroyers of World War II vintage with their 5"/38 guns were represented by HOPEWELL (DD 681), RUPERTUS (DD 851), and MASSEY (DD 778). The guided missile cruiser CANBERRA (CAG 2), mounting both 8"/55 and 5"/38 caliber guns, completed the roster at the beginning of the month. Targets taken under fire included

Image - USS CARRONADE (IFS 1) Fires Rocket at Viet Cong Target
USS CARRONADE (IFS 1) Fires Rocket at Viet Cong Target

Viet Cong troops, storage areas, structures, and antiaircraft guns.

Reports of missions fired indicated that the art of gunfire support was constantly being improved as the ships obtained more and more experience. Some new techniques were being developed, and old techniques were being further exploited, resulting in constant improvement in accuracy and response time. These improvements among the Navy's units, coupled with education of the other services in the capabilities and limitations of naval gunfire support, caused this powerful capability of the Navy to become increasingly effective.

Amphibious Operations

Operation JACKSTAY which had begun in March in the Rung Sat Special Zone, was originally planned as a USMC unilateral operation. The RVNMC, however, indicated a strong desire to participate with U.S. Marines, and as a result two battalions were assigned. Thus, it became the first large scale coordinated operation involving both SEVENTH Fleet and RVN forces.

It continued through 7 April with opposition generally light. Initial estimates of VC installations were confirmed with the discovery of a large arms factory and a hospital. HANCOCK and KITTY HAWK aircraft provided air support against VC positions throughout the week. WASHOE COUNTY (LST 1165) and HENRY COUNTY (LST 824) received small arms and mortar fire in the Saigon River, but returned the fire in kind. According to aerial reconnaissance the mortar emplacement was knocked out and there were dead VC nearby. Final casualties for JACKSTAY were five U.S. Marines KIA; 24 WIA; 2 MIA. For the VC, 63 were confirmed KIA, but another 84 were "possible." There was no report of RVN Marines suffering any casualties.

Operation OSAGE, a rice harvest protection search and clear operation in the Phy Loc area just north of Danang was another coordinated amphibious operation with ARVN forces. It was initiated on 27 April by TG 76.5 (PRINCETON (LPH 5), ALAMO (LSD 33), PICKAWAY (APA 22)) with Special Landing Force (SLF) embarked (BLT 1/5 and HMM 364). Destroyers JOHN W. THOMASON (DD 760) and WALKER (DD 517) provided the gunfire support. Opposition was light against the first wave of 9 LVTPs and 16 helicopters, but on 30 April friendly forces received heavy sniper fire and detonated a land mine. This resulted in 6 USMC KIA and 9 USMC wounded. The operation continued into May.

Ordnance and Maintenance Problems

The ammunition situation came to a crisis in April. During the past year, the stockpile of ordnance assets, which mostly comprised left-over stocks from World War II and Korea, had been dwindling steadily. Production of bombs and rockets had to be stepped up in order to keep pace with a steadily increasing level of effort brought about by deployment of five carriers and eight Marine squadrons, and flying of more than 8,000 Navy/Marine sorties per month. Special emphasis was exerted at all levels of command to support the ordnance requirements generated by operations in Southeast Asia. With meticulous management it became apparent that Navy was going to meet its commitments during the lean months.

Early in the month, however, the Air Force was forced to cancel sorties because of a shortage of necessary ordnance. This prompted the Department of Defense to investigate the problems and not only focused attention on the Air Force, but the entire military. A meeting of all services and representatives from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and MACV was held in Honolulu on 11-13 April by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations and Logistics). This meeting laid the ground work for establishment of a world-wide inventory of air ordnance and projection of future production.

In the meantime, CINCPAC took complete charge of all allocations of air munitions in the Pacific. All available munitions from Air Force and Navy and future production were allocated on a monthly basis in accordance with service requirements. Before the month ended CINCPAC directed the transfer of several thousand tons of bombs from Navy to Air Force. More transfers were anticipated.

On 20 April, CINCPAC directed submission of a daily ammunition status report on critical ammunition items located in SEVENTH Fleet units, Naval Magazine Subic, and RVN. Items of ammunition considered critical were as follows:

MK 81 bomb AERO 7D pod
ANM-57 bomb LAU-10 pod
ANM-81/88 bomb ZUNI rocket motors
MK 82 bomb MK 77-2 firebomb

ANM-64 bomb

ZUNI warhead

MK 83 bomb

MK 24 paraf1are

ANM-65 bomb

CBU 2A/A bomb

LAU 3A/A pod

MK 2 impulse CTF

CNO authorized the commencement of all Pacific Fleet April overhaul starts, but funding relief was still required to permit May and June overhauls. As a partial measure toward off-setting the funding deficit, CINCPACFLT proposed the deferral of sixteen fourth-quarter overhauls. Restricted availability funds were not available to effectively complete essential repairs on ships prior to deployment to WESTPAC. It was felt that inventory eatdown due to lack of supplies and equipage funds would gradually degrade material readiness and capability of self-repair. The Chief of Naval Operations was attempting to obtain additional funds.

The funding inadequacy imposed the following reduction of necessary aviation reworks:

TYPE
O&R ALAMEDA
O&R NORIS
AIRCRAFT
41
56
ENGINES
130
77
COMPONENT OVERHAUL
(UNITS)
11,000
11,000
OTHER SUPPORT SERVICES
25% reduction
17% reduction
CALIBRATION SERVICE
26% reduction
21% reduction

The major problem of aircraft maintenance was becoming increasingly serious. F-8E attrition from December 1965 through April 1966 averaged 2.4 aircraft per month; attrition for the next 12 months was projected at a 3 per month average. Many items such as wing pylons, were in such short supply as to severely limit air to ground training of F-8 squadrons. Personnel shortages, electric fuzing system component shortages, and shortages of funds were further expected to reduce supply support. Deployed squadrons reported 66.6 flight hours per aircraft per month. CNO normal F-8 programmed flight hours were 27.31 and this had been the basis of peacetime spare parts' purchases. Increased flight hours were accompanied by an increase in demand for items of supply for which peacetime procurement and supply support had not been planned.

F-4 attrition from December 1965 through April 1966 averaged 5.2 per month. Attrition for the next 13 months was estimated at 5 per month. Short air wing turn-around, shortages of F-4 aircraft and parts, and shortages of live ordnance and associated racks/pylons were affecting readiness. Combat squadrons reported 47.2 flight hours per aircraft. CNO normal F-4 programmed flight hours were 27.3, for which peacetime spare support had been programmed. The largest single maintenance and material problem in the F-4 was a steady increase in cannibalization to keep the aircraft flying. In the last six months, both items cannibalized and man-hours expended had doubled. More aircraft and personnel were required. Similar logistic problems were also affecting the readiness of A-4, A-I and A-3 aircraft. In summary the problems were as follows:

  1. Spare parts deficiencies.
  2. Inadequate forward storage for spare parts.
  3. Shortage of maintenance tools and equipment to support an adequate maintenance program.
  4. Lack of maintenance working space in which to conduct an adequate maintenance program.
  5. Shortage of trained maintenance personnel, especially personnel familiar with the Navy maintenance material and management system.
  6. Lengthy out-of-country scheduled maintenance, especially in the area of calendar inspection.

Supply

The approved Alameda to Cubi Point to Danang Military Airlift Command Channel was expected to result in improved support of SEVENTH Fleet units as well as units in I Corps Tactical Zone.

On 1 April, three Atlantic Fleet C-130 aircraft, crews and associated support personnel reported to Commanding Officer, VR-21 for temporary duty. In order to gain maximum utilization from these aircraft and to support airlift requirements for the entire Pacific Fleet, these C-130 aircraft were based at NAS Barber's Point, Hawaii under the operational control of CINCPACFLT, and were to be incorporated into the Fleet Tactical Logistic Program as an integral part of VR-21. It was anticipated that the three temporary C-130 aircraft would increase the airlift capability of VR-21 by approximately 50% as well as increase the size and scope of VR-2I's material airlift capability.

Bureau of Ships representatives had been conducting a vertical replenishment control station study aboard USS MARS (AFS 1). A request was made to BUSHIPS to hold in abeyance a VERTREP Capabilities Improvement Program pending completion of the present study.

USS REGULUS (AF 57) received the first delivery of sensitive chilled provisions under contract from Taiwan for SEVENTH Fleet support. The items were of excellent quality as well as expeditiously provided.

Deliveries of AN/URC-lO and AN/PRC-49B survival radios to WESTPAC did not keep pace with requirements. Expedited procurement of these radios was only an interim measure as they do not meet performance and reliability requirements in full. The ultimate CINCPACFLT requirement for survival radios was determined to be two radios for each pilot and crew member in WESTPAC.

Establishment of U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam (NAVFORV)

The vast, continuing increase in Free World Military Forces in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966 included a rapid build-up of Naval Forces. In early 1965, U.S. Navy activity in Vietnam was limited to support functions in the Saigon area, construction and medical activities, and advising the Vietnamese Navy and Marine Corps. In March of 1965, naval ships and craft began counter-infiltration patrols. The Vietnam Coastal Patrol Force under CTF 71 was designated Operation MARKET TIME on 24 March. On 30 July, TF 71 was deactivated and operational control was shifted to CTF 115 in Saigon. MARKET TIME has continued, with addition of surveillance aircraft, U.S. Coast Guard units, and the high speed PCF (SWIFT) coastal patrol boats.

Late 1965 saw planning for the second major influx of operational U.S. Navy units. Operation GAME WARDEN, designed to supplement Vietnamese units in patrol of the Mekong Delta and Rung Sat Special Zone waterways, was to come into operation during 1966, with high speed River Patrol Boats (PBRs) as the principal patrol units. U.S. River Assault Groups to supplement the Vietnamese Navy were under consideration.

With these operations came the requirement for construction of new facilities. Navy Civil Engineer Corps personnel, assigned to the Officer in Charge of Construction, Vietnam,

Chart - Chain of Command, Including COMNAVFORV, 1 April 1966
Chain of Command, Including COMNAVFORV, 1 April 1966

were designated to supervise the bulk of military construction, although the majority of the work was being performed by civilian contractors. Included in this construction were harbor facilities and new MARKET TIME and GAME WARDEN bases.

Headquarters Support Activity, Saigon, was destined to transfer its functions to the Army by May of 1966, but some of its personnel and facilities were to be incorporated into Naval Support Activity, Saigon, to provide logistic support for U.S. Navy activities in the II, III and IV Corps Tactical Zones. Naval Support Activity, Danang, activated in 1965 for support of Marine and Navy operations in the I CTZ, was to be expanded to support all Free World Military Forces in the I CTZ.

With the continually increasing United States Navy commitments in Vietnam, early 1966 brought the requirement for better integration of all U.S. Navy activities assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Three months of planning culminated in the establishment of U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam on 1 April.

On 1 April, in ceremonies aboard USS LOWE (DER 325) in Saigon Harbor, Rear Admiral Norvell G. WARD established and assumed command of NAVFORV. He retained the posts of CTF 115, CTF 116, and CHNAVADVGRP. On 16 April, Admiral WARD was relieved as CTF 115 by Captain Clifford L. STEWART. On 21 April, CINCPACFLT defined the terms of reference for COMNAVFORV as a uni-service commander. (See Appendix I).

Image - Admiral Ward Reports for Duty as COMNAVFORV to General William C. Westmoreland, COMUSMACV
Admiral Ward Reports for Duty as COMNAVFORV to General William C. Westmoreland, COMUSMACV


Coastal Surveillance Force

During April, MARKET TIME units recorded their highest level of activity since activation of the Force in March 1965. Additionally, for the three month period ending 1 May 1966, the total number of vessels inspected, boarded and searched was more than twice the total for the previous six months.

TOTALS FOR FIRST NINE MONTHS OF MARKET TIME:

Total for First Six Month Period Ending 31 Jan 1966

DATE
INSPECTED
BOARDED
& SEARCHED
TOTAL
JUNKS
DETAINED
PERS
DETAINED
31 Jan
25,764
14,184
29,948
Unknown
933

Total for Three Month Period Ending 1 May 1966

DATE
INSPECTED
BOARDED
& SEARCHED
TOTAL
JUNKS
DETAINED
PERS
DETAINED
6 Feb
2,048
1,893
3,941
34
126
13 Feb
1,455
1,514
2,969
7
72
20 Feb
2,135
2,067
4,202
6
59
27 Feb
2,400
1,915
4,315
8
83
6 Mar
2,726
2,456
5,182
27
184
13 Mar
1,917
2,429
4,346
10
133
20 Mar
2,574
3,171
5,745
15
142
27 Mar
2,067
2,849
4,916
6
74
3 Apr
2,141
2,206
4,347
9
72
10 Apr
2,557
3,094
5,651
13
123
17 Apr
3,665
3,503
7,168
15
115
24 Apr
2,824
3,388
6,212
27
171
1 May
3 ,956
5,067
9,023
12
206
32,465
35,552
68,017
189
1,560

Total for Nine Month Period Ending 1 May 1966

DATE
INSPECTED
BOARDED
& SEARCHED
TOTAL
JUNKS
DETAINED
PERS
DETAINED
58, 229
49,736
107,965
2,493






8 May
3,071
3,460
6,531
11
180

In addition to regular patrols in the nine patrol areas, MARKET TIME units gave gunfire support to beleaguered outposts, assisted stricken junks, performed psychological warfare missions and carried out two hydrographic survey operations.

The TEE SHOT patrol concept, based on concentration of MARKET TIME patrol units in a specific area in antiexfiltration patrols supporting land operations, was applied twice during the month. Operation TEE SHOT III, commencing 12 April was in support of the U.S. Marine search and destroy operation NEVADA in northern Quang Ngai Province. It terminated on 18 April with the performance of VNN units the outstanding highlight. In this operation their participation far exceeded other efforts like it. TEE SHOT IV commenced on 24 April in support of Operation AUSTIN northeast of Phan Thiet. In a period of three days, 810 junks were boarded and 104 suspects were turned over to Coastal Group 28. The operation was terminated on 27 April.

Two other joint U.S. Navy/Vietnamese Navy ROUNDUP operations, both of one day duration, were conducted during April. This concept employs a concentrated search and detection of junks in a specific area, with the junks directed by the detecting unit to one or more ships designated as check points where they are searched. The operations were of brief duration.

Map - Market Time Operations
Market Time Operations

ROUNDUP III was conducted on 7 April. The operation utilized two U.S. PCFs and two WPBs from MARKET TIME patrols, the Vietnamese Navy Fleet Command ships PGM 611 and MSC 114, and the junks of Coastal Groups 44 and 45. The concentrated boarding operation area extended from Khoc La Bay to Point Hun Dot in the Gulf of Siam. VNN ROUNDUP IV was held in the same general area, extending from Point Nai to Cape De La. It commenced on 21 April and was terminated the following day. The same tactics were employed as before, with three PCFs and two WPBs providing the outer barrier, VNN LSIL 225 and PBM 604 the searching units, and coastal Group 45 the close-in patrol.

Twenty-one new SWIFT PCFs arrived in-country during April in the largest monthly influx of these units. PCFs 34 - 41 arrived in Cam Ranh Bay on 2 April and the following day made the 170 mile transit to Vung Tau to become part of Division 103. PCFs 42 - 48 arrived in Cam Ranh Bay on 17 April, followed by PCFs 49 - 54 on the 27th.

PCF Division 104, with thirteen PCFs, was activated at Cam Ranh Bay on 12 April, bringing to four the number of divisions now operational. Other divisions include 101 at An Thoi with seven boats, 102 at Danang with ten boats, and 103 at Cat Lo with thirteen boats. While base facilities are under construction at Cam Ranh Bay, berthing and support facilities are located aboard an APL, a non-self propelled barracks ship, anchored in Cam Ranh Bay. Approximately one half the spaces aboard the APL have been modified to provide repair shops and other support facilities.

On the evening of 28 April, USCGC POINT COMFORT (WPB 317) was on a routine patrol in area Nine in the proximity of Hon Son, a small island close to the Cambodian Border, when she saw the bow wave of an approaching surface unit. A definite radar contact was picked up at a range of four miles closing on a reciprocal course. At first this was thought to be another Vietnamese Navy unit, but a few minutes later POINT COMFORT received a flashing light challenge of "AA" causing her to re-evaluate the contact as a possible Vietnamese Navy Fleet Command ship (Vietnamese Navy junks have no signal gear, and Fleet Command ships often substitute the international "AA" challenge for the standard VNN/USN recognition signals). As the two vessels passed abeam at a range of 1,000 yards, POINT COMFORT challenged using the standard VNN/USN challenge. No reply was received. At the same time the silhouette was determined to be a Cambodian PT boat of a class previously seen in the border waters.

At about 2130, immediately after passing abeam, a tracer round passed directly over POINT COMFORT, followed at five second intervals by three additional rounds. POINT COMFORT stated that this was forty millimeter fire, apparently directed about 200 feet overhead. POINT COMFORT went to general quarters and maintained her course away from the Cambodian. The PT boat soon changed her course and proceeded deep into Cambodian waters. No further contact was made.

The next morning USCGC POINT BANKS (WPB 327) observed a Cambodian PT boat of the 78-foot HIGGINS class anchored in the general area of the incident. This was the same type that had fired on POINT COMFORT.

Both the POINT COMFORT and the Cambodian PT boat were operating in Republic of Vietnam territorial waters, within the Republic of Vietnam Defensive Sea Area. At no time during the incident did POINT COMFORT violate the line of demarcation between Republic of Vietnam and Cambodian territorial water, nor did she take any action which might be construed as hostile or provocative, merely having issued a standard flashing light challenge. At the same time, the Cambodian committed a hostile, provocative act within the Defensive Sea Area of the Republic of Vietnam. CINCPAC recommended that a formal protest of the incident be lodged with the Royal Cambodian Government.

River Patrol Force

Operation GAME WARDEN entered its fledgling stages during April as the first PBRs became operational and patrolled the waters of the Rung Sat Special Zone. As the new crews received area indoctrination and training, construction of new bases in the Mekong Delta area continued in preparation for the arrival of the first patrol units during the forthcoming months.

The departure of the SEVENTH Fleet Marine Amphibious Force from the Rung Sat Special Zone on 7 April signalled the termination of Operation JACKSTAY. Highly successful in terms of equipment and facilities captured or destroyed, JACKSTAY also resulted in 63 Viet Cong killed. But the likelihood was great that Viet Cong forces in the area would attempt to re-infi1trate into the Rung Sat Special Zone and establish once again their secure bases.

To counter this possibility by denying the Viet Cong use of the major waterways in the Rung Sat Special Zone, the CTF 115 river patrols established during JACKSTAY were maintained after completion of the operation. The ten patrol stations were to be manned by five WPBs and four PCFs. Two LCPLs, the UH-1B fire teams, and the MSBs were to assist. The PBRs were scheduled to phase in when operationally ready. Vietnamese Navy assistance was also requested. On 6 April, the units chopped to operational control of CTG 116.2, and commenced patrol.

On 8 April, Vietnamese Navy units relieved two stations, freeing one WPB and one PCF for MARKET TIME patrol. River Assault Group units, consisting of one commandament, one FOM (similar to STCAN), and one monitor, assumed patrols on the upper Soirap River. Other VNN units patrolled the eastern reach of the Vamco River and the Dong Tranh River.

On 8 April, the PBRs of River Patrol Section 541 commenced orientation patrols with PCFs and was on the Long Tau River stations. On 15 April, the PBRs reported they were ready to assume any two stations. On the following day, the PBRs commenced patrol, resulting in two PCFs and two WPBs released for MARKET TIME operations. This resulted in seven stations manned continually by United States units: two by PBRs, three by WPBs and two by PCFs. PBRs occupied one additional station vacated by Vietnamese Navy units on 16 April.

The Soirap River patrol stations continued to meet with success as the Viet Cong persisted in their attempts to utilize this waterway. On 17 April, PCF 23 illuminated a contact attempting to cross the Soirap River just north of the Vam Sat River mouth. The sampan maintained speed and opened fire with small arms. Four people in the sampan jumped overboard as PCF 23 returned the fire. The sampan was taken in tow but subsequently sank. Enemy shore fire prevented a continued search of the area.

The effectiveness of the Soirap River patrols can also be measured in terms of the stepped-up harassment of patrol units. On numerous occasions during the month, the boats came under moderate to heavy small arms and automatic weapons fire from the banks, Most of the harassing fire was received in the section near the mouth of the Vam Sat River, a known infiltration route terminal and the scene of considerable action during March and April. Shore fire was also received on two occasions near the mouth of the Soirap River.

Meanwhile the Long Tau River patrol stations continued relatively quiet. Intelligence reports during the month indicated a partial shift in Viet Cong infiltration patterns into the Rung Sat Special Zone, with traffic entering from the east, originating in Viet Cong strongholds in Phuoc Tuy Province. However, no evidence of this was uncovered by the Long Tau River patrols. One reason for this may exist in the fact that the Long Tau River, with its narrow, sinuous channel, presents a much more difficult patrol area than the wide, straight Soirap River. With the exception of the wide section near the mouth of Ganh Rai Bay, transit across the Long Tau can be accomplished quickly, making detection difficult.

On 26 April, an additional twelve PBRs arrived at Cat Lo. These units commenced shakedown cruises from the base at Cat Lo and from USS FLOYD COUNTY (LST 762), which had arrived in country on 12 April to become the second Inshore Support ship. River Division 51 was activated on 27 April aboard USS TORTUGA (LSD 26) in preparation for the first transit into the Mekong Delta in May. The new units were designated River Section 512.

While crew performance during the initial month of PBR operations was regarded as excellent, numerous problem areas arose in the boats themselves. The narrow vinyl beading which served as a fender was not adequate protection when boarding and searching larger junks, or when alongside a support ship. This resulted in damage to the side. To correct this, discarded helicopter tires were obtained for use as fenders. Armor plating around the forward gun mount has been removed on all boats to improve gunner and coxswain visibility and communications. M-72s, one-time-only antitank rockets, are being carried on all boats as interim ordnance pending approval and installation of the Mark 18, 40mm rapid fire grenade launcher. In another ordnance improvement, .50 caliber machine guns are being installed in place of the after .30 caliber machine guns.

Naval Advisory Group

An active month for the Vietnamese Navy and its advisors, April witnessed five joint U.S./Vietnamese waterborne operations in addition to numerous unilateral Vietnamese operations. In the administrative arena, the reorganization of the Vietnamese Navy approached completion. Three Deputy Chiefs of Staff were proposed for personnel, operations, and logistics.

The operating units are controlled by the Fleet Command, subdivided into six divisions for sea patrol (PCE), inshore patrol (PGM), river patrol (LSSL, LSIL), logistics lift (LST, LSM, LCU, AKL, YOG), minecraft (MSC, MLMS) and UDT. The Coastal Groups are under the operational control of the four Coastal Zone commanders and the River Assault Groups under the control of the two Riverine Area commanders.

During April, PCs, PCEs, and PGMs were utilized principally for off-shore patrol in coordination with Operation MARKET TIME. In addition they were used for static defense or gunfire support when needed. The LSILs and LSSLs, although deployed briefly for sea patrol, were utilized primarily for river patrol and in support of riverine operations. LSIL 329 spent most of April as an escort for LSMH 400, the Vietnamese Navy hospital ship. LSILs also saw limited use as logistic lift ships. The MSCs remained divorced from their basic function and were employed primarily as sea patrol units.

In April, performance of VNN commanding officers once again came in for heavy criticism by advisors. While some commanding officers displayed a high degree of professional competence, there still existed an unacceptable number of officers whose command performance was marginal or unsatisfactory. Among some, there existed an acceptance of inferior performance and no passion for improvement. To attempt to counter this, the Vietnamese Navy CINC and the Fleet Commander instituted a policy of holding commanding officers responsible for poor performance, enforcing it by removal from command. It was felt that if this policy were properly implemented and administered consistently and equitably, it should result in better performance.

Two operational problem areas were noted by advisors during April. Mine consciousness, a vital factor in riverine operations, still seemed to be lacking. Only when intelligence reports indicated the possibility of mining, did RAG personnel give thought to the required countermeasures. A second problem area is in utilization of the RAGs, which are not employed to their fullest potential by Army Commanders.

The shipyard advisor reported that ships submit too many trivia work requests. The Shipyard Planning Officer rejects as many as possible, but in many instances he is forced by higher authority to accept these jobs. This is a direct reflection of the continuing refusal of most ships' companies to make their own repairs. Fleet Command is in the process of instituting a program whereby the Fleet Command Maintenance Officer will reject those jobs within the capacity of the individual ships, a program long needed in the Vietnamese Navy.

The First Battalion of the Vietnamese Marines experienced a high level of combat activity during April. From 5 to 11 April they were deployed to the Danang airfield as part of Task Force ALFA. On 11 April, the First Battalion was air-lifted to Quang Ngai to participate in Operation NEVADA, a joint U.S./Vietnamese operation. Under operational control of the 2nd ARVN Division, the First Battalion accounted for five Viet Cong killed prior to termination of the operation on 18 April. On 21 April they swept back into action, this time with the Vietnamese Fifth Airborne Battalion. On a two day search and destroy operation near Quang Ngai, 150 Viet Cong were confirmed killed, with advisors estimating another 300 killed by artillery. In addition, one 81mm mortar, four 75mm recoilless rifles, small arms and equipment were captured. Five Marines were killed in action and 30 Marines were wounded. The first Battalion remained in Quang Ngai on static security for the remainder of the month.

The Second and Third Battalions were deployed to Danang airfield because of the political unrest there, and the Fourth and Fifth Battalions participated in Operation JACKSTAY.

During one operation south of Saigon on the Cui Village River, the Marines utilized the new Dong Ngai boats to transport one battalion across rivers and down streams. The Dong Ngai boat is fourteen feet long, of fiberglass construction, with a draft of 26 inches fully loaded. It is powered by a forty horsepower outboard engine and is capable of carrying eight combat loaded Marines at a speed of 20 knots. At present, there is one boat platoon of 50 boats ready for use. The speed, capacity, and handling capabilities were evaluated as excellent and it is likely that future operations in the Rung Sat Special Zone and similar areas will involve the use of Dong Ngai boats.

Unit morale within the VNMC remained high during April, and its leadership was knowledgeable and effective. The majority of operations were executed with enthusiasm and a good grasp of tactics, although coordination and control in dense jungle and swamp areas left something to be desired.

The Vietnamese Navy Hospital Ship Hat GIANG (LSMH 400) deployed on 20 April for the Mekong Delta. From 23 April to 27 April she operated at Long Phu District (Coastal Group 36) in Ba Xuyen Province; and from 28 April to 30 April at Tra On District, Vinh Binh Province. Approximately 1600 people received medical treatment and 175 people were administered dental care. Civic action material was distributed to 450 needy families in both areas. In addition, a Cultural Platoon was embarked to give performances of folk dances and music. Two Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) broadcasts were conducted. The ship is due to remain in the Delta until the middle of May, return to Saigon for a ten day rest and replenishment, and then return to continue its civic action programs.

Military Construction

The Officer in Charge of Construction Vietnam, under Bureau of Yards and Docks, as the Department of Defense's construction agent in Southeast Asia, has contracted for more than $150 million in military construction in South Vietnam since 1956. As of April, construction was proceeding at a rate of $17.5 million per month, with an expected increase to $40 million a month by October. U.S. civilian contractors now have a total of over 33,000 workers in Vietnam. There are seven Navy Mobile Construction Battalions and 15,000 Army Engineers.

Major projects in progress include the development of major ports in seven areas of Vietnam to complement the port of Saigon: Hue, Danang, Chu Lai, Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, Vung Tau, and Cam Ranh Bay. It is anticipated that ten deep draft piers will be completed at these locations by the end of October. LST ramps at Danang, Chu Lai, and Vung Tau are under construction in addition to the deep draft piers. Anticipated completion date is June 1966. In addition this program includes construction of major permanent airfield, complexes at Cam Ranh, Qui Nhon, Chu Lai and Danang.

The Navy construction program in RVN has been designed to meet the requirements of MARKET TIME, GAME WARDEN, Harbor Defense, Mine Countermeasures, COMNAVFORV, NAVSUPACT DANANG, and III MAF. In the case of NAVSUPACT DANANG, the program was designed to develop ports capable of a minimum through-put capability of 10,000 short tons per day to provide for necessary cargo, transshipment of cargo to other ports in the I CTZ, and to provide a reserve capability for inclement weather and escalating requirements. LST ramps to provide 800 short tons per day at Hue/Phu Bai and 2,245 short tons per day at Chu Lai were being constructed.

On 18 April, COMUSMACTHAI convened his Facilities Review Board at which time the calendar year 1966 construction program for the three services was analyzed. As a result of this review, the calendar year 1966 Sattahip Naval Base construction program was determined. Included in the program are POL, port, sea patrol, VP(L) , and air cargo facilities, and a communications station. Action was initiated to procure real estate for these facilities as well as follow-on increments of construction. Planning and design was 30 percent complete.

At the conclusion of the CINCPAC hospital requirements meeting conducted 14-15 April, the casualty rate planning figure was stated as 1.8/1000/day, and the WESTPAC hospital bed requirement, computed from this figure, was stated as 3,861 beds.

Harbor Clearance

Harbor Clearance Unit ONE was established on 1 December 1965 to provide a harbor and river clearance capability. Assigned the permanent duty station of Subic Bay, Philippines, HCU-l is composed of four harbor clearance teams (BCT) and two light lift craft (LLC). Each harbor clearance team is composed of two officers and fourteen enlisted, all of whom are qualified divers. Each LLC has a crew of two officers and eleven enlisted.

Salvage

On 24 April, SS EXCELLENCY, a 407 foot, seven hold, cargo ship went aground at Triton Island off the coast of South Vietnam. EXCELLENCY was owned by the U.S. Department of Commerce and operated by the American Export Line. The ship was carrying approximately 1000 tons of ammunition for U.S. forces. She was refloated on 30 April after off-loading her cargo. From there she proceeded to Subic Bay.

Intelligence

Ominous developments on the political scene continued to eclipse military events this month in Vietnam. Several government attempts to initiate a program designed to permit general elections were aborted by Buddhist boycotts. Resistance to lawful measures finally turned into open defiance when on 9 April, the Buddhists virtually declared war on the KY regime. On 12 April, contrary to his previous actions, KY strongly asserted his intention to remain in power and overcome the dissident pressures. The critical atmosphere thus engendered was then alleviated on 18 April when Buddhist leader Tri QUANG, possibly fearing loss of popular support because of his continued intransigence, called a truce to allow the government to go ahead with its plans for elections.

Turning to military developments in Vietnam, COMUSMACV's estimate of enemy strength in South Vietnam increased significantly in March from 77,490 to 89,805. The Communists were reported to have five divisional formations.

Review and analysis of Communist road construction in the Lao Panhandle from 1964 to March 1966 revealed an increase in motorable road mileage, most of it along the principal infiltration routes. During the five year period 1959 - 1963, some 31,000 personnel -- an average of about 6,300 a year -- were believed to have entered South Vietnam. Since then an estimated 12,400 infiltrated in 1964, and 20,000 in 1965.

In an attempt to more closely estimate the actual enemy casualty count, the following planning factors were agreed upon on the basis of experience and recent intelligence. In addition to the killed in action count, it was estimated that:

  1. five Viet Cong are wounded in action for each killed in action;
  2. of every five wounded in action, two of these die of wounds or are incapacitated and cannot be returned to duty;
  3. two percent of the average military strength become sick and incapable of military duty;
  4. administrative losses due to desertions, other than those defecting to the government of Vietnam, amount to one percent.

In Cambodia, several arrangements with the Communist camp threw new doubt on the Kingdom's professed neutrality. The first occurred on 11 April when North Vietnam announced that its commercial representation in Cambodia was being raised to government level. This move marked Cambodia's first official recognition of North Vietnam as a government. Later in the month, on 20 April, Prince SIHANOUK reportedly sent a message to the chairman of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam in which he asked the Front to send delegates as soon as possible to Phnom Penh in order to organize and install a permanent general secretariat of the Indo-Chinese people, with delegates from the various Southeast Asian Communist Front organizations.

In addition, increased economic cooperation with the Viet Cong was discovered. The traditional flow of illicit goods crisscrossing the Cambodian/Vietnamese frontier increased sharply. Items exchanged included popular brands of European pharmaceuticals, field dressings, morphine, and various chemicals. On 22 March, SIHANOUK boldly stated on radio Phnom Penh that the Viet Cong could present their wounded at Cambodian hospitals for medical treatment. Furthermore, Cambodia had agreed to sell 5,000 tons of rice and other food products to the Viet Cong last December. Since that time, rice furnished the Viet Cong was reliably indicated to have totaled as much as 30,000 tons.

Taken together, these moves constituted a definite indictment of Cambodia's alleged policy of neutrality. It could only be concluded that SIHANOUK now firmly believed that the Communists were on the rise in Southeast Asia and he must either accommodate them quickly or run the risk of being swept under by the tide.

In naval developments this month, the aggressive potential of the North Vietnamese was substantially increased by the receipt of a CHICOM built Shanghai class PTF. Low level photographs revealed the craft's presence approximately three nautical miles southeast of Hon Gay in North Vietnamese waters on 21 April. This represented the first type of naval vessel of CHICOM manufacture to be received by North Vietnam since the initial delivery of about 30 SWATOWs beginning in 1958.

This class was the newest type craft in China's own offshore defense force inventory and was in series production. It had a maximum speed of 28 knots, was approximately 130' long and carried twin 37mm guns forward and aft, and two over and under 25mm guns aft on the bridge. Moreover, it was combat-proven, having sunk three CHINAT warships totaling 2,500 tons in 1965.

Communications

On 4 April, CNO approved a CINCPACFLT recommendation to transfer the satellite terminal on board USS PINE ISLAND (AV 12) to USS ANNAPOLIS (AGMR 1). This transfer was designed to bring added reliability to WESTPAC communications by making ANNAPOLIS, a principal communications relay in the South China Sea, less dependent on the vagaries of high frequency radio propagation.

On 17 April, CANBERRA (CAG 2) became the first U.S. Navy ship to make operational use of the satellite relay by sending 50 messages to NAVCOMMSTA Honolulu via the SYNCOM II satellite and the Army satellite ground station at Helemano, Oahu, Hawaii from the cruiser's station in the South China Sea.

Personnel Posture

The on-board strength of both officer and enlisted PACFLT personnel remained in excess of the authorized allowance in numbers during April. The shortage of supervisory petty officers, however, continued to be a serious problem. Approximately 10,000 petty officer (2nd class and above) billets were either vacant or filled by personnel of lower rates. But some improvement in petty officer strength in Southeast Asia was achieved during April when BuPers channeled a larger share of personnel to PACFLT at the expense of LANTFLT and CONUS activities.

Image - Shanghai Class PTF - Proved in Combat
Shanghai Class PTF - Proved in Combat

Naval forces ashore in Vietnam on 25 April were 14,267. Forces afloat on SEVENTH Fleet ships and at supporting shore activities were 97,261, for a total Navy effort of over 110,000 sailors and marines participating directly in the war.

Chaplain Activities

April 1966 found 327 military chaplains and 18 auxiliary or civilian chaplains on duty in the Pacific Fleet. These 345 men supervised the spiritual and moral welfare of over 250,000 Naval personnel and over 50,000 Marines spread over 450 commands afloat and 58 commands ashore in the Pacific area. FMFPAC alone had 95 chaplains, 56 of whom were ashore in Vietnam. Divine services recorded during this month amounted to 4,831, attended by 183,990 personnel. 112,518 personnel were contacted by chaplains giving religious instructions, counseling and moral leadership, or making hospital and brig visits.

Of interest were the decorations earned by FMFPAC chaplains through April: Twelve chaplains had received the Navy Commendation Medal. Four had received the Bronze Star. One had received the Legion of Merit and lastly, one the Purple Heart.

Over 50-tons of welfare material were delivered by NAVFORV to the South Vietnamese people during April. Also, the PsyWar Bureau issued thousands of magazines, posters and leaflets to Vietnamese and U.S. units for further distribution.

Forty thousand safe-conduct passes were issued for use during Operation JACKSTAY. One hundred Vietnamese-English language books were distributed by MARKET TIME units in their language teaching and learning programs.

In addition, SEABEE community service in Vietnam in April is reported as follows:

NMCB-4 Medical and Dental officers visited the villages and hamlets in the immediate vicinity of Chu Lai and some in the outlying districts which had not been secured.

NMCB-5 personnel delivered 70 boxes of clothes, toys, household and medical supplies to the World Evangelization Crusade Mission, Danang. Lumber was provided to the WEC Children's Home, Buddhist Temple in Hoa Phat and Sacred Heart Orphanage, Danang. NMCB-5 Medical and Dental personnel treated 726 Vietnamese civilians.

NMCB-8 Medical and Dental personnel made twice weekly visits to village of Dong Gaing and weekly visits to Quon Lom. English speaking classes are conducted by the Dental officer for Nuns at the orphanage twice weekly. Five hundred cakes of soap and 150 pounds of clothing were distributed and a scholarship fund was initiated in the battalion.

NMCB-11 representatives treated 419 Vietnamese medically and 67 dentally. An outdoor shower and field-type latrine were constructed in the village of My-Thi.

Marine Operations

During April the Marines conducted a record number of small unit operations aimed at destroying the guerrilla infrastructure. At the same time 14 air/ground operations of multi-battalion size were directed against the enemy's Main Force strength.

Aviation units of the Marines were equally active, flying nearly 40,000 helicopter sorties, which was 6,000 more than in March. Fixed wing squadrons flew over 5,000 combat sorties.

The suspension of activity that took place in the port of Danang for nine days during the height of the political unrest reduced supply levels, but accelerated operations the rest of the month made April the second highest cargo handling month to date. It was exceeded only by March. On 27 April a record 9,795 M/T was handled at Danang which surpassed by 500 M/T the previous daily record.

In April the Marines expanded their tactical areas further into the rich countryside. The Phu Bai tactical area doubled in size, and facilities at Chu Lai and Danang increased about 20% when taken together. About 190,000 more villagers were under the control of III MAF than before, and at the end of the month the total area embraced more than 1,000 square miles. This included 144 villages and a population of about 694,000. Just 14 months previous, the real estate occupied by Marines was only 8 square miles and one village with a population of under 2,000.

GROWTH OF MARINE TACTICAL AREAS

DATE
SQUARE MILES
POPULATION
VILLAGES
8 Mar 65
8
1,930
1
14 Mar 65
10
4,339
2
7 May 65
11
4,339
2
25 May 65
101
32,932
11
15 Jun 65
335
124,878
30
6 Jul 65
417
188,840
44
21 Sep 65
606
350,083
72
31 Jan 66
948
506,712
109
30 Apr 66
1,185
694,489
144

Lessons Learned

A number of significant lessons concerning amphibious operations were learned. These were primarily derived from Operation JACKSTAY, a delta/swamp operation, and are as follows:

In view of the extensive distance from the LPH to the BLT ashore (up to 30 miles), a solution had to be found to reduce the time-consuming, uneconomical utilization of helicopters and to provide an alternate means of logistic support in the event helicopters were not available. Supplies were positioned on board 2 LSTs in the river in the immediate vicinity of the landing force units. Delivery of the supplies from the LSTs was then accomplished both by helicopter and landing craft. This method of logistics support provided timely response without a burdensome buildup of supplies ashore.

Based on previous difficulties with the PRC 10 operating over extended distances, and through liaison with CTF 115 personnel familiar with the Rung Sat Special Zone, it was anticipated that communications in the RSSZ would be difficult. Accordingly, after the initial planning conference, arrangements were made to borrow 15 PRC 25 radios from CTF 115 resources. Operation JACKSTAY thoroughly demonstrated the reliability of the PRC 25. With its greater range and longer life span of batteries, it proved to be an indispensable item of equipment for use on the battalion tactical net, artillery conduct of fire net, recon nets and the landing force tactical net. The PRC 10s proved generally ineffective in this type of terrain.

The river armadas included minesweepers, monitors and LCMs as gunboats, and LCVPs as boat guides. The LCM-6s were utilized to transport companies to landing points in river penetrations up to seven miles inland. Each LCM-6 carried a maximum of 80 troops, and proved an invaluable asset in swamp/delta type operations.

Seven 450 pound plastic Dong Ngai boats with motors were provided by CTF 115 for direct support of the companies after they had made river landings from landing craft. These plastic boats followed company movement up the rivers and carried essential supplies of water, ammo, and rations. In addition, one was utilized to carry a doctor and medical personnel with equipment.

The effect of prolonged exposure in swamps caused many cases of immersion foot. Some units were forced to operate almost continuously in swamp/mangrove terrain. About three days was the maximum time an individual could be expected to operate effectively before suffering from this condition.

For air operations, photographic intelligence acquired immediately prior to major air strikes for accurate defense analysis paid high dividends in reducing aircraft losses where large numbers of aircraft over a specific target are involved.

CINCPACFLT has decided that radar directed bombing is relatively unproductive and should be suspended. In a message to his Component Commanders, CINCPAC stated that since the resumption of ROLLING THUNDER on 31 January, MIG activity over NVN had increased, and it was appropriate to review the "Rules of Engagement" requiring positive visual identification before our pilots can shoot them down. He said that from now on MIGs would be positively identified "only when the possibility exists that the aircraft is either friendly or non-military."

Analysis of survivor debriefs revealed a reliability deficiency in personnel survival radios as well as a short supply. A goal was established aiming at provision of two radios per pilot/crew member in SEASIA.

Appendix

A. STATUS, RESPONSIBILITIES AND TASKS OF COMMANDER U.S. NAVAL FORCES, VIETNAM, CINCPACFLT INSTRUCTION 5440.11

Ref:

(a) JCS Pub 2

(b) General Order 19

1. Purpose. To define the terms of reference for Commander U.S. Naval Forces., Vietnam (COMNAVFORV) as a uni-service commander.

2. Command and Operational Control. (As defined in paragraph 30201 and 30202 of reference (a)):

  1. Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam is under the operational control (OPCON) of Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam and under the command (less OPCON) of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
  2. Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam exercises OPCON over Naval Support Activity Danang, Naval Support Activity Saigon and their outlying detachments.
  3. Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam commands the Naval Advisory Group, Vietnam.

3. Geographical Boundaries. The limits of Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam area of responsibilities are the geographical boundaries of the Republic of Vietnam and the territorial waters thereof.

4. Mission. Under the Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet, Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam shall:

  1. Serve as Naval Component Commander for Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam in accordance with paragraph 30201 of reference (a).
  2. Perform area coordination functions in Vietnam for purely naval matters in accordance with reference (b).
  3. Perform such other Navy functions and assume such responsibilities directly connected with Vietnam as may be assigned by Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

5. Tasks. Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam under Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet performs the following tasks:

  1. All of the functions of Naval Component Commander which are described in paragraph 30232 of reference (a) and which are a responsibility of a component commander to his service chief, i.e., communications, internal discipline, training (readiness) tactics, service intelligence, and logistic functions normal to the component except as otherwise noted.
  2. Naval communications and the coordination thereof, where necessary, with the "appropriate unified command chain.
  3. Plan for and coordinate naval base development planning with RVN.
  4. Plan for, program, construct and operate port/beach facilities, depots and ancillary facilities including roads and bridges in I Corps Tactical Zone which are not included within the boundaries of an installation funded for and operated by another component commander.
  5. Act as the single point of contact for Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam on all naval matters less air and amphibious planning/coordination with Commander SEVENTH Fleet and less matters relating to employment of III MAF.
  6. Provide NMCB support to III MAF.

Map of South Vietnam
Map of South Vietnam

This document is part of the Vietnam Command Files, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.


3 April 2007