Needed for close-in coastal patrols during the Vietnam War, the Navy deployed patrol craft, fast (PCF) swift boats. Ordered in April 1965, they were serving in South Vietnam interior waters that October with PCF-3 and PCF-4. By November 1966, there were 84 PCFs on patrol with Task Force 115 (Operation Market Time). The 50-foot aluminum craft had radar, two .50 caliber machine gun tubs, and an 81mm mortar/.50 caliber machine gun. The crew had an officer in charge with four enlisted Sailors.
Swift boats operated in teams of three to five for interdiction of Viet Cong supplies along the 1,500 miles of rivers and canals. They also searched vessels and other craft for weapons and utilized for transporting U.S. Navy SEAL teams. Despite problems with seaworthiness, days that were long, and twenty-four hour operations, the crews valiantly served. Swift boats also participated in Operation Jackstay, to thwart the Viet Cong in the Rung Sat Special Zone in March and April 1966, and Operation Sealords, to disrupt Viet Cong supply and communication lines from 1968 to 1971. During Vietnamization, the Swift boats were turned over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
Patrol Craft, Fast (PCF-1), is on exterior display next to the Cold War Gallery, Bldg. 70, at the Washington Navy Yard. Note, one will have to exit the Navy Yard to see the Swift boat. If one doesn't have a DOD CAC ID card, one will have to return to Pass and ID at 11th and O Street to enter back onto the Yard.
War in the Shallows: U.S. Navy Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam
Image: USN 1140780: Patrol Craft Fast (PCF-40), July 1969. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.