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United States Naval Operations Vietnam, Highlights; February 1966

 Highlights and Introduction  Harbor Defense
 US Navy Personnel Strength Vietnam (Ashore & Afloat)  Logistics
 Air Operations  Communications
 Statistics on Air Operations  Construction
 Southeast Asia Air Summary by Type Aircraft - USN Only  Maintenance
 Market Time  Salvage Operations
 Game Warden  Collisions
 Map of Game Warden (CTF 116) Plans, Bases And Units  Naval Advisory Group
 Naval Gun Fire Support  General Information
 Amphibious Operations  Lessons Learned
 Marines  Glossary of Terms
 Mining of Rivers and Harbors

Highlights and Introduction
In early February there was preoccupation at home with the Honolulu Conference, the continuing United States peace effort, and the debates before the Foreign Relations Committee on the war in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, however, more than 200,000 Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard men were preoccupied with the war. Task Force 77 lost nine planes and six pilots or crew in the first ten days after the bombing of North Vietnam had been resumed. U. S. MARKET TIME forces made approximately 2,000 day and night boardings during the same period, and Amphibious forces, led by attack transport Paul Revere (AP-248) supported Marines in Operation DOUBLE EAGLE.

Off shore the Navy had nearly 70,000 men in nearly 150 ships. On shore were more than 10,000 serving as advisors on staffs, or performing tasks in other areas of support.

Graph of U.S. Navy Personnel Strength Vietnam

Peace, however, was being humbugged by Hanoi, who responded to American presentation of the issue before the United Nations Security Council by declaring that any resolution by that body would be considered null and void.

Nevertheless, the American official position transcribed over and over in world mass communication media remained as follows:

1. The Geneva Agreements of 1954 and 1962 are an adequate basis for peace in Southeast Asia.

2. We would welcome a conference on Southeast Asia or on any part thereof.

3. We would welcome "negotiations without pre-conditions" as the 17 nations put it.

4. We would welcome unconditional discussions as President Johnson put it.

5. A cessation of hostilities could be the first order of business at a conference or could be the subject of preliminary discussions.

6. Hanoi's four points could be discussed along with other points which others might wish to propose.

7. We want no U. S. bases in Southeast Asia.

8. We do not desire to retain U. S. troops in South Vietnam after peace is assured.

9. We support free elections in South Vietnam to give the South Vietnamese a government of their own choice.

10. The question of reunification of Vietnam should be determined by the Vietnamese through their own free decision.

11. The countries of Southeast Asia can be non-aligned or neutral if that be their option.

12. We would much prefer to use our resources for the economic reconstruction of Southeast Asia than in war. If there is peace, North Vietnam could participate in a regional effort to which we would be prepared to contribute at least one billion dollars.

13. The President has said "The Viet Gong would not have difficulty being represented and having their views represented if for a moment Hanoi decided she wanted to cease aggression. I don't think that would be an insurmountable problem.

14. We have said publicly and privately that we could stop the bombing of North Vietnam as a step toward peace although there has not been the slightest hint or suggestion from the other side as to what they would do if the bombing stopped.

Navy men seemed to understand these principles better than some of their peers back home. As one Air Wing Commander put it, "Our men seemed to know why we were fighting out there which is the principal reason why our morale was so high." Another officer said that he was sure that the closer a ship was to Vietnam the higher was the morale of the crew.

Air Operations

During the last days of the 37-day stand-down from air operations over North Vietnam, Kitty Hawk and Ranger were at Point Yankee, Ticonderoga was at Dixie, Enterprise was in Hong Kong, and Hancock at Yokosuka.

When ROLLING THUNDER operations were resumed on the evening of 31 January, Navy carrier planes and the Air Force flew armed reconnaissance missions along North Vietnamese lines of communication. The Navy flew 74 sorties, destroying two bridges and one truck, and damaging one truck, two ferry landings, one supply area, and two junks. Five bridge approaches and one road were also cratered. Fifty-eight USAF aircraft achieved similar strike damage, plus an attack against a truck convoy. The weather, however, was bad, and some of the Navy aircraft were diverted to STEEL TIGER targets.

During this first operation after the stand-down, there were three aircraft lost: a USAF F-105, a Navy F-4B and an A-4E. Crews from the two Navy aircraft were rescued, but the Air Force pilot was lost.

The pattern of ROLLING THUNDER, STEEL TIGER, BARREL ROLL and in-country strikes was not unlike other months. Over North Vietnam and Laos, the aim remained to shut off the supply of men and materials to South Vietnam, and in the South to hit any targets confronting US and RVN ground forces.

On 4 February, Ticonderoga moved north to relieve Kitty Hawk at Yankee station; and Enterprise, after 21 days "off the line" moved to Dixie to commence in-country operations in the South. During the next eight days, before going up to Yankee, Enterprise flew nearly 1400 sorties, of which almost 1100 were in combat. She was credited with the destruction of 510 structures, 24 bunkers, 23 sampans, four gun-emplacements, and one bridge. Also, 569 other structures were damaged, numerous tunnels and trenches collapsed, other sampans and bunkers impaired, plus accompanying secondary fires and explosions.Kitty Hawk, reluctant to give way to the advantages of nuclear power, had a 170 sortie-day just before departing for rest and recreation at Subic. For one of her RA-SC's lost to AAA over North Vietnam, the guns of Waddell (DDG-24) and Brinkley Bass (DD-887) were brought to bear on shore targets interfering with the search and rescue of the downed crew. This marked the first time that shore bombardment by U.S. Navy ships had taken place in North Vietnam. The SAR mission, however, was unsuccessful, and the crew of two declared missing.

On 9 February, a Ticonderoga A-4C was damaged by an SA-2 in the vicinity of a position 20 miles southwest of Thanh Hoa. In this case the wingman of this flight received a SAM warning signal, but was unable to relay it to his leader in time for evasive action. The missile exploded immediately behind the lead plane, damaged the tail section, ruptured the fuselage in many places, and set the aircraft on fire. Moments afterwards, another missile exploded 700 feet behind the first one. The second aircraft in the formation was undamaged, but the pilot in the lead plane, although able to stay with his aircraft until over the sea, ejected near the destroyer England (DLG-22) and was recovered. Both missile explosions, it was reported, were "orange in color with black smoke."

On 11 February Enterprise moved north to relieve Ranger, and Hancock assumed the in-country responsibilities of Dixie. Kitty Hawk arrived back at Yankee on 17 February from a rest in Subic and Hong Kong, relieving Ticonderoga who joined Ranger in Subic.

Other losses in North Vietnam included an A-4E from Ticonderoga which was shot down in an attack on boxcars with the pilot -- observed being led away by his captors -- listed as missing. Also on 10 February a Ranger A-1H was lost in a dive bombing mission in which the pilot was declared killed. Another loss in which there were no survivors, involved an A-6A from Kitty Hawk which struck the ground after a glide bombing attack. And finally, Enterprise lost an F-4B over the Gulf of Tonkin, and in this case also, the crew was not rescued.

In the final week of February, Ranger and Hancock handled the air operations over North Vietnam, and Kitty Hawk, back at Dixie, was flying 100 sorties a day in support of friendly forces in the South. Enterprise was at Subic. On the 28th a Ranger SH-3A rescued five survivors of a downed USAF RB-66. In this case an A-1H pilot, also from Ranger- but not forewarned of the crash - located the airmen in the water by homing on a "beeper" from their emergency radio.

MIG activity increased in February over other months. On 3 February a Marine F-4B reported sighting a MIG-17 and gave chase. He broke off, however, near the Hanoi restricted zone and turned away. The MIG-17 then pursued and fired at the F-4 but missed. On the 8th, a Marine F-4B made radar contact off the North Vietnam coast east of Vinh, closed to 12 miles, but then lost his contact to the west. Ten minutes latter, F-4B's again closed to eight miles of their "bogey," only to lose contact. In neither of the last two cases was visual identification achieved, which was necessary to the existing rules of engagement.

More than 70 photo reconnaissance flights were made by Task Force 77 planes over North Vietnam and another 70 over Laos. RA-5C and RF-8A aircraft from the carriers provided their coverage and were augmented by the RA-3B detachment from Cubi Point.

The tempo of air operations in February showed no signs of slackening. As illustrated in Figure 2, the Navy flew 8,147 sorties over North Vietnam, South Vietnam and Laos. Figure 3 illustrates the number of sorties by plane. Losses amounted to three A-4's, one R-A5, one A-6, one A-1 and one F-4 over North Vietnam and two A-1's over Laos. All but the one A-4 shot down by SAM was lost to conventional antiaircraft fire or causes unknown. Pilots interviewed attested to more concern for the heavy and accurate AAA than for missiles. They also admitted to being tired at times, but not "fatigued." One Air Wing Commander said the morale of his men was the highest he had ever known.

Nevertheless, due to a statement early in the month on the Walter Cronkite TV News show that the Navy was short of attack pilots, and that pilots flew combat missions over North Vietnam 28 days out of every month, OSD requested the Navy make an explanation. The following information was provided:

a. An individual pilot might fly as much as this, but this rate is above normal and not continuing.

b. Pilots in TF 77 average 16-22 sorties per month.

c. The Navy has a limit of 150 combat sorties during a seven and one-half month tour, and so far, no naval aviator has exceeded this number.

d. The Navy has a pilot manning factor of 1.4 per aircraft for attack planes. All squadrons have met this factor when initially deployed, but losses, combat or operational, sometimes reduced this level before replacements arrived.
e. The Navy is short of pilots, but the shortage is not critical. The current requirement for attack pilots is being met. CINCPACFLT has recommended an increase of the attack manning level to 1.7 per aircraft, but this, of course, will cause a shortage of attack pilots in other areas of the Navy, both fleet and shore-based.

f. The Navy has received authorization to increase the output of naval aviators from 1800 to 2200 per year, but it will take one and one-half years for the impact of this increase to be felt.

Statistics on Air Operations

Table of Statistics on Air Operations

Southeast Asia Air Summary by Type Aircraft - USN Only

A/C No. of Sorties
A1 893
A3 55
A4 3572
A6 155
C1 27
E1 101
E2 73
EA1 110
EA3 108
F4 1651
F8 846
KA3 262
RA3 48
RAS 189
RF8 57


During February there was no indication of large scale infiltration from the sea. Efforts were not relaxed, however, and when eight new PCF's arrived in January, they were immediately started on shakedown training with the six boats already in service there. Nine more Coast Guard WPB's also arrived and comprised Division 13 at Cat Lo. This made a total of 26 Coast Guard cutters now in Vietnam with a force of about 430 officers and men. Operating in an area from about 60 miles northeast of the Saigon River mouth to about 120 miles southwest, the WPB's operated as elements of TU 115.1.6 and TU 115.1.7.

On 8 February, Hissem (DER-400) who had so carefully shadowed the Chinese trawler described in January Highlights, detected a junk flying a Thailand flag and acting suspiciously off the tip of the Ca Mau peninsula. She continued to track her quarry for two weeks as she moved northeast through the South China Sea. No attempts at sea rendezvous with anyone were made, but she ultimately ended up in Hong Kong where she was apprehended by marine police for having on board large quantities of opium.

On 13 February, Pine Island (AV-12) discontinued seadrome operations in Cam Ranh Bay. She would be succeeded by Salisbury Sound (AV-13) early in March. In the meantime, P-2 aircraft
from Tan Son Nhut picked up MARKET TIME coverage on the southern coastal surveillance track, and P-3 Orions from Sangley continued their patrols along the northern coast,

On 14 February PCF-4 was lost to a booby trap. According to reports, the Swift approached a bamboo pole about 250 yards from shore near Rach Ghia in the northeast corner of the Gulf of Siam to remove the VC flag that was attached to it. After exploding several grenades near the base of the pole and noting no secondary explosions, a crewman proceeded to cut the flag loose. During the process a mine-type high-magnitude explosion occurred, sinking the Swift and killing four crewmen and wounding two others. Viet Cong fire harassed recovery efforts, but the boat was lifted Out of the water and shipped to Subic. There, it was declared beyond repair, but would be evaluated by BUSHIPS to determine the effect of mining on an aluminum hull,

At the end of the month, during an air attack in the vicinity of Dung Ho, north of Danang, a Marine F-4B was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and the crew of two bailed out over the sea, On being informed of the downed aircraft, USS Falgout (DER-324) and Coast Guard units on MARKET TIME patrol proceeded to the area, Low clouds, rain, and rough seas hampered the search, but both men were recovered after about two hours in their rafts.

Junk count flights were conducted during February with the following results:

North of Vung Tau (Three Day Average) 2643
South of Vung Tau (Three Day Average) 335
Total Day average 2978

North of Vung Tau (Three Night Average) 657
South of Vung Tau (Three Night Average) 374
Total Night average 1031

Compared with previous months, an increase in the number of junks was noted, which was probably due to a gradual abatement of the northeast monsoon. January and December junk counts are offered for comparison as follows:

January averages: Day 2550
Night 506
December averages Day 1200
Night 500

Two MARKET TIME operations in February were successful in demonstrating proper patrol coordination against infiltration between DER's and smaller craft. TEE SHOT was conducted in the vicinity of Qui Nhon, and BROWN BEAR further south near Phan Thiet. Both operations permitted shallow water patrol efforts to be accomplished in areas not ordinarily accessible to the short range Swift by giving it "mothering" support from the DER - and in some cases the MSO and the WPB.


In order to keep the men, equipment, and food originating in the rich, densely populated Mekong Delta from reaching VC strongholds in the Central Highlands of RVN, Chief Naval Advisory Group was directed to establish a patrol force in the major rivers of the Delta and the Rung Sat Special Zone (RSSZ) which encompasses the major ship channels to Saigon.

GAME WARDEN was the nickname assigned, and TF 116 became the designator. Limited operations were expected to commence in March. By the end of the month the first two officers and one enlisted man had arrived. As future Corps Tactical Operations Center personnel, they were assigned familiarization watches, first in CTF 115 operations, and then at a MARKET TIME Coastal Surveillance Center.

The forces anticipated for the RSSZ were 20 LCPL's funded under MAP and 10 PBR's. For controlling the rivers, 60 PBR's would be needed in addition to the VNN River Assault Groups (RAG), national police, ARVN regional and popular force boat companies, and, as required, observation and strike aircraft. Any operations on rivers near the Cambodian border would be coordinated with U. S. Special Forces who held that responsibility. Figure 4 illustrates the locations of the eight PBR bases, the first of which was estimated to be in operation by 1 July 1966. Since the PBR's were expected to arrive in March and April, austere facilities were being prepared to receive them. Housing facilities were sought in the neighboring base towns, but they were difficult to find. In some cases tent cities were planned. Eight 10,000 gallon fuel bladders were obtained to provide JP-5 for the boats.

Image of Map of Game Warden (CTF 116) Plans, Bases And Units

Naval Gunfire Support

Navy gunners fired 19,556 rounds in February in support of missions that ranged from small besieged fronts to the amphibious operation DOUBLE EAGLE and the U. S. Army's search and destroy mission, MASHER.

Oklahoma City (CLG-5) with COMSEVENTH Fleet embarked and Barry (DD-933) started the month by firing 100 rounds in support of DOUBLE EAGLE, and when Oklahoma City departed for Yokosuka, she was replaced by Topeka (CLG-8).

Destroyers accepted targets that included cave hideouts, road blocks, camp structures, choke points, machine-gun emplacements, and sampans. Two destroyers, Orleck (DD-886) and Higbee (DD-806) set new records for time on the line. Higbee had a total of 34 consecutive days until she was relieved on 27 February, and Orleck 28. The latter demonstrated her skill with white phosphorous rounds on the 12th, damaging 95 structures and leaving others burning in a VC assembly area.

Altogether, 14 destroyers plus Oklahoma City and Topeka carried out gunfire missions during the month in all four Corps areas. MARKET TIME ships, Vance and Finch, also were able to depart from their customary role of patrol and respond to a call for gunfire support.

Canberra (CAG-2) chopped to Seventh Fleet on 19 February after CINCPAC Fleet's direction that a cruiser with eight inch guns be maintained in WESTPAC at all times. By the end of the month she was at work in Vietnam waters.

As mentioned earlier, shore bombardment of North Vietnam occurred for the first time in February. This happened, however, only when Waddell and Brinkley Bass returned fire which they had first received from the shore.

CINCPACFLT estimated the expenditure of 5"/38, 5"/54, 6"/47, and 8"/55 ammunition would exceed 30,000 rounds a month for the next six months.

Amphibious Operations

Amphibious activity during the month centered on operation DOUBLE EAGLE, initiated in January and continued until 16 February, in southern Quang Ngai province. This involved both Third Marine Amphibious Forces, based ashore at Danang, and Seventh Fleet ready forces afloat. Not as spectacular as STARLIGHT, this operation was highly successful over a longer run.

Four Marine Battalion Landing Teams, with a helicopter element and a battery unit participated. The attack transport Paul Revere was flagship, leading two other attach transports, an attack cargo ship, 3 LST's, 2 LSD's, a helicopter carrier, a cruiser, a destroyer, 2 auxiliaries, and the hospital ship Repose (AH-16). Upon completion of the first phase of the operation, retention of the Special Landing Force (BLT 2/3 and HMM 262) and the Amphibious Ready Group (Valley Forge (LPH-8), Monticello (LSD-35), and Montrose (APA-212) was requested until 28 February by MACV to provide continuing support for the second phase.

Where amphibious assault features were incidental to what was mainly a land-based drive, the quality and extent of Navy support was judged particularly noteworthy. Battalion teams were landed, backloaded, and moved as called for with exceptional mobility.

Helicopters flew 1353 combat sorties, lifting 3257 passengers and 87.2 tons of cargo, and evacuated 97 casualties. Nearly two hundred aircraft were serviced with 18,397 gallons of fuel and 246 gallons of oil. Other services, including delivery of 6,000 pounds of fresh fruit were provided. The total medical cases evacuated to Repose were 304. Of these, 31 were gunshot wound cases, 23 shrapnel wounds, 5 traumatic amputations, 9 lacerations, and 234 miscellaneous disease cases. Among them, only one man died of wounds and one of disease.

A Navy Beach-Jumper Unit detachment also participated. It operated a loud-speaker public address system to advise local inhabitants to cooperate with Marines, to avoid aiding the Viet Cong, and to stay clear of combat areas. The efforts proved to be effective.

Consolidation of Beach-Jumper Unit and Naval Operational Support Group activities and their relocation to Okinawa was implemented to centralize command and training of those activities in the Western Pacific. A conference at the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet, defined classroom training requirements for tactical deception courses.

Princeton (LPH-5), Pickaway (APA-222), and Alamo (LSD-33), with Marine Battalion Team 1/5 embarked, relieved the Amphibious Ready Group composed of the Valley ForgeMonticello, and Montrose, with Battalion Landing Team 2/3 embarked. In addition, units of Amphibious Squadron Three completed the movement of BLT 1/5 headquarters and associated elements to the Western Pacific.


In March 1965, the first American troops to land in South Vietnam were about 500 Marines. In February 1966 there were 50,000.

The first Marines came ashore at Danang when they were assigned the single task of defending one overcrowded airfield. In February 1966 their responsibilities had expanded with the war and included the security of four additional air facilities: the aluminum Marine jet field at Chu Lai, the field at Phu Bai, and the large helicopter field at Ky Ha and Marble Mountain. On these airfields, whose complex stretched over more than 100 miles of heavily populated coastline, were based over 500 U. S. aircraft.

During February, III MAF forces involved themselves in large scale operations on every day of the month. In four out of five provinces of I Corps, operations up to brigade size were conducted, and one operation, in the final planning stages at the end of the month, was scheduled to involve eight and one half battalions.

Operation DOUBLE EAGLE, Phase I, ended on 19 February with 312 enemy killed and 19 captured. It was followed by Phase II, when intelligence sources indicated that large numbers of enemy troops were concentrating west of Tam Ky, in Quang Tin Province, 25 miles north of Chu Lai. Essentially the same forces that participated in Phase I converged on this area utilizing helicopters and motor transport. Nevertheless, contact was lighter than expected. Enemy casualties resulted in 125 VC killed and 15 captured while Marines suffered 4 killed and 121 wounded.

The following statistics on civic actions by III MAF, including the attached Navy personnel, are offered for the months of January and February:

January February Total to 28 Feb.
51,413 70,891 Persons given medical treatment 325,014
22 9 Persons given medical training 157
26 63 Construction Projects 287
14,781 51,012 Pounds of food distributed 212,030
6,358 9,220 Pounds of soap distributed 62,201
8,543 6,208 Pounds of clothing distributed 148,817
87 56 Critically ill civilians evacuated 4,565
36 55 English Language Classes in Progress 173
$907 $916 Cash donations $21,130
22,638 14,113 Persons fed 54,903
2,887 2,250 Students supported 10,237

Mining of Rivers and Harbors

The increased number of minings have been a matter of concern. In December, the attempt to mine the Danish ship, Kina, demonstrated that shipping to Saigon and other ports is indeed vulnerable. This attempt at Kina, however, prompted immediate steps:

a. The use of "O" type gear by the Vietnamese and a daily mid-channel sweep to supplement their current efforts.

b. Initiation by the U. S. Navy to procure additional mine countermeasure units in order to institute around-the-clock minesweeping.

c. Evaluation of anti-swimmer nets.

d. Evaluation of conditions on Long Tau River to determine the number of MSB'S to be activated from semi-reserve status.

These steps proved prudent when the leader of a three-man cell of a Viet Cong Naval Engineer Battalion surrendered and supplied the following information:

He had joined the VC in April 1963 and deserted in the following December, He lived a normal civilian existence until August 1965 when he joined the VC again as a "counter agent," and was assigned to the Engineer Battalion in the RSSZ, with a mission of attacking military ships traveling in the Lung Tau River. It was this unit that planted the mine that was expected to sink Kina.

In order to plant the mines, the width and depth of the river were measured, and the flow of the current studied. Three floats were then made from coconut tree trunks, attached to stones, and planted in the positions that they thought the mines should be placed. This was repeated many times over for three or four days. Then, he said, they felt they knew where to best place the mines for the greatest damage to Kina

In November, the defector connected the floats with electrical wire that led to the shore. They were cut on two occasions by minesweepers. When the decision was made to wire the mines again, they were planted in the position of the floats immediately after the minesweepers had passed on 1 December. It was one of these mines that was exploded near to Kina the next day.
{indented in original}

The confirmation of the presence of this battalion of engineers in the RSSZ caused acceleration of projects in progress and in the establishment of harbor defense units.

Harbor Defense

In February, representatives from CINCPACFLT, COMINPAC, COMIUWGRU ONE, and CHNAVADGRP, visited the ports of Danang, Qui Nhon, Nha Trang, Cam Ranh Bay, and Vung Tau, to obtain on-scene information and study the peculiar requirements of each port. The present organization at Danang, which includes radar and visual surveillance of the harbor, a harbor entrance control post, and surveillance by small boats, was considered adequate. At the other ports tentative sites were selected for entrance control posts, and personnel and material require ments were drawn up for each proposed installation. It is planned that operational control of harbor defense forces at each location will be exercised by CTF 115 in conjunction with MARKET TIME forces in that sector. In addition to providing harbor defense for the local military base or port commander, these harbor defense forces can serve to extend MARKET TIME surveillance into the internal waters of the harbor.

Mine countermeasures in the four ports were considered a contingent requirement. The fact that there has been no VC attempt to mine harbors to date does not preclude the existence of the threat. An adaptation, however, of the techniques used in the rivers is evaluated as remote. The greater the depth of the water, the less restrictive is the pattern of ship movements and the relative absence of VC controlled shore areas.

Introduction of visual and radar surveillance and boat patrols should effectively deny the enemy the opportunity to place his mines and also afford security to U. S controlled shipping against attack by swimmers or small craft.


In spite of headlines and hopes for giant cargo-carrying airplanes, sealift accounts for 98 percent of all cargo to Vietnam. In fact, since World War I, when sealift provided for 100 percent of the needs of the soldiers overseas, only 2 percent has been taken over by airplanes. Furthermore, more than half of the soldiers, sailors, and marines sent to South Vietnam, and essentially all of the bulk petroleum products used there -- including fuel for airlift aircraft -- are transported in MSTS ships or ships that MSTS charters from the Merchant Marine.

Complementing this logistics support which travels some 7,000 miles and more from California, is the Service Force, Pacific Fleet which replenishes and serves Seventh Fleet and MARKET TIME forces in Vietnam waters, and the Navy and Marine forces ashore.

During February Markab (AR-23), Dixie (AD-l4), Platte (AO-24), and Vega (AF-59) arrived in WESTPAC, and Isle Royale (AD-29), Bellatrix (AF-62), Neches (AO-47), Opportune (ARS-41), Shakori (ATF-162), Molala (ATF-106), Rehoboth (AGS-50), and Sunnadin (ATA-197) departed.

During the nine month deployment of Neches, she steamed over 63,000 miles, took 370 ships alongside and transferred to them 31 million gallons of NSFO, 9 million gallons of JP-5, and 121 tons of bottled gas and lubricants. Neches also delivered 798 passengers, over 120 tons of fleet freight, and 12 tons of mail to Seventh Fleet ships.

In 90 days of continuous sailing Elkhorn (AOG-7) pumped over 10.3 million gallons of petroleum products in support of the III MAF in the Danang/Chu Lai area and was commended by CG III MAF for her part in Operation DOUBLE EAGLE.

On 5 and 9 February Sacramento (AOE-1) conducted vertical replenishments of ammunition to Enterprise during flight operations and delivered more than 500 short tons in this manner. On the latter date she also delivered over a million gallons of JP-5 in less than two hours. This kind of support is considered a significant logistic contribution to the operation of a nuclear task group. An AOE, of course, has not only more speed than an AO, but carries more JP-5 and provides ammunition and provisions as well.

On 26 February Mars (AFS-1) replenished Kitty Hawk and achieved high transfer rates by combining the use of conventional rigs and vertical replenishment. Of the total of 380 short tons transferred, 107.4 S/T were delivered by two UH-46A Sea Knight helos. The transfer rate for the combined UNREP/ VERTREP rate was 147 S/T per hour.

A total of 433 UNREPS were conducted during February, 101 of them being at night. The latter category is broken down as follows:

AE 10

CASREPs submitted by SERVPAC ships in WESTPAC during February reached an all time high of 49, two more than in January which was an indication that demands on ships were increasing. CASREPs to 5"/38 gum-barrels were beginning to occur; and AOs were starting to be plagued with a variety of mechanical repairs. Serious machinery CASREPs, however, decreased over previous months, and this is considered to be due to longer on-line periods with more ships force maintenance being performed.

Shortages in ordnance supply, however, remained a major problem. Air shipments of bomb-banding lugs were barely sufficient to keep up with the bomb-banding program. Also, a shortage of "optimum use" airborne ordnance was affecting the Seventh Fleet's ability to meet all her strike requirements. Steps were taken in some cases to substitute less desirable ordnance and to recover and rework ammunition whenever possible. No signs of completely solving the problem, however, were evident at this time.


Pacific Fleet communication activities during the month of February were accelerated by new requirements. These requirements ranged from a need for improved cryptographic equipment to the installation of satellite communications equipment in ships, and the provision of fixed communication facilities in Vietnam and Thailand.

CINCPACFLT developed and forwarded requirements to the Chief of Naval Operations for a high-speed (800 words per mm) off-line encryption device for teletype messages. This equipment will replace obsolete 60 words per minute off-line cryptographic equipment in all ships and shore activities. This new high-speed off-line device will enhance the fleet's communications capability by saving manpower and increasing the speed of message processing.

In response to CINCPACFLT's stated requirements, CNO requested the Chief of the Bureau of Ships to develop plans to install voice security equipment in certain ships and aircraft in the Pacific Fleet. This equipment, the first of its kind, would provide cryptographically secure ultra-high frequency ship-to-air and ship-to-ship voice circuits.

Certain Pacific Fleet ships were to receive the new SSC-3 shipboard Satellite Communications equipment as a part of the Initial Defense Communications Satellite Program (IDCS). Installation scheduled from May through November was to put this equipment aboard the ProvidenceEnterpriseEstesBon Homme RichardCoral Sea and Constellation.

In plans to program and develop a naval base in Thailand for support of Pacific Fleet ships operating in the Gulf of Siam, CINCPACFLT developed and coordinated requirements with COMUSMACTHAI for a Naval Communication Unit at Sattahip. This included the provision of a transmitter site, a receiver site, and a communications center. CINCPAC concurred in the requirements, and CNO was to undertake an engineering survey to provide the basis for programming action to develop the facilities.

The rapid development of plans for increased river patrol force operations in South Vietnam created an urgent requirement to provide CTF 116 with a communications capability in the Can Tho area, An engineering team was in Vietnam conducting a survey to provide plans for permanent communications facilities at Can Tho Pending completion of permanent communications facilities, an Air Transportable Communication Unit (ATCU 100A) from U. S. Naval Communication Station, Honolulu, was being modified for use at the Can Tho site by 15 March. Until permanent personnel were assigned by CTF 116, a total of two officers and thirty-four enlisted men from Honolulu and Japan would operate and maintain the unit.


Director, Pacific Division Bureau of Yards and Docks was requested in February to exert all means to meet the June 1st required occupancy date for the Special Landing Force Quonset Facility at Subic Bay. This had been made necessary by the increasing utilization of Special Landing Forces in Vietnam combat operations and the importance of having suitable facilities ashore to restore the combat potential of units as soon as possible.

A project for 200,000 square feet of additional storage facilities on Okinawa was included in the Fiscal Year 1966 Supplemental Military Construction Program. Design drawings based on using 40 by 100 foot Butler buildings were completed. However, in-service design criteria, requiring 180 mph wind-load resistance, necessitated a specially designed building, with attendant refitting and increased construction Costs. This additional storage area was urgently required to accommo date added stocks on Okinawa needing inside storage.

Permanent MARKET TIME bases in South Vietnam continued under construction. Two at Danang and An Thoi had been completed. Those at Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh and Cat Lo were still being built, looking to completion by December 1966. On the 18th of February, the Naval Support Facility at Qui Nhon was established, and personnel of an Advance Base Functional Component were due to arrive there the next day. The first Swift boats (PCF's) were scheduled to arrive on the 25th of March. Advance base components were expected to take charge in the near future at the other bases under construction.

The Sattahip Project for Thailand was one of considerable magnitude, comprising an airfield complete with necessary fuel storage facilities, and a major port facility with deep-water berths, rock breakwaters, and all attendant features needed to operate such a port. The airfield would have more than two miles of runway, capable of handling the heaviest logistical aircraft. The port facility would require approximately one million cubic yards.

For some time, considerable thought by the separate services had been given to the military development of the Sattahip area. In November of 1965 CINCPAC had directed the component commanders to formulate plans for the development. As soon as it was determined that a requirement did exist, CINCPACFLT forwarded to CINCPAC the broad Navy plan of Sattahip requirements.

February then saw the formulation of Sattahip broad planning estimates and communication requirements and a CINCPAC directive to develop details on naval facilities at Sattahip. Funding arrangements were to follow, and 1 April 1967 was proposed as the operational date for the Sattahip naval facilities.


The ship repair workload at all Western Pacific ship repair facilities remained heavy. Until additional facilities were provided at Ship Repair Facility, Subic, an increase in the requested ceiling of 3,400 civilian personnel could not be effectively utilized. The heavy workload at West Coast private and naval shipyards continued to disrupt operational planning. Concentration of work at San Diego, Long Beach and San Francisco had necessitated shifts of regular overhauls and restricted availabilities to Bremerton. Further delays in completion of activations and conversions of AE's and AOG's in the Seattle area were attributable to labor shortages. Unless a significant increase in ship repair manpower was effected, little relief could be foreseen in the near future.

The completion of work on the Mauna Kea (AE-22) was delayed ten weeks by a labor strike in the Seattle area. Critical labor shortages were also expected to affect completion of work on four other naval auxiliaries in that area.

The regular overhaul of the MARKET TIME support ship, Krishna (ARL-38), was delayed one year until the fourth quarter of 1967. Krishna had been completely reworked from stem to stern in the United States in the summer of 1965, prior to reporting to CTF 115 for duty. Consequently, the regularly scheduled overhaul was not considered necessary until the next year. The Krishna was playing a vital role in sea surveillance operations by servicing the Swift boats (PCF's) and the Coast Guard Cutters (WPB's) actively engaged in MARKET TIME operations. Relieving her by an interim ship with less capability at that point was judged unnecessarily detrimental to operations.

Incidental maintenance problems were met as they came up. Sometimes they were simply due to short supply, involving questions of delivery and even procurement. The wartime pace of action in the South China Sea often meant resorting to most expeditious means.

Representative of the variety of maintenance problems was trouble with the R-1051 radio receiver, damage to an SAR helicopter, loss of armor-plate on another, rapid deterioration of canvas in tents for the Marines, weather damage to aluminum matting on the Chu Lai runway, and LCM-8 engine breakdowns. The Marines needed crushed rock for construction projects, tail and main rotor blades for helicopters, and brake lining, brake pistons, and preformed packing for fork lifts.

During the month of February shortages of aviation equipment and spare parts continued to limit Seventh Fleet and First Marine Air Wing capabilities. Unfortunately, the overall parts "cannibalization" rate for naval air activities in the Pacific continued at a high level due to shortages. Corrosion and repair parts shortages remained the major maintenance problems. Those problems, many of them carried over from previous difficulties were met variously on an emergency basis. Makeup of emergency repair kits, special airlift arrangements, round-the-clock response to requisitions. updating allowance lists, and changes in the supply system were some of the steps taken to solve particular maintenance problems, or at least to contain them as best possible for the time being.

Salvage Operations

On 23 February 1966, a small commercial tanker, Sea Raven, went aground about one hundred yards from the beach in the vicinity of Chu Lai. Bad weather and heavy seas made it difficult to render assistance, while Outagamie County (LST-1073) stood by. The crew, however, was taken off by helicopter before dark and by rubber boat during the night.

Hitchiti (ATF-103) arrived on the scene the next day, joined on the 26th by Reclaimer (ARS-42) for salvage operations after abating seas had allowed salvage personnel aboard the stricken ship to complete a survey. On 1 March Bolster (ARS-38) relieved Hitchiti. De-watering and cargo off-loading was completed on 3 March, and Sea Raven was refloated on 5 March.


On 4 February Waddell (DDG-24) and Brinkley Bass (DD-887) collided while maneuvering for position during a SAR mission near Cap Falaise in North Vietnam. Both ships suffered extensive damage but were able to proceed toward Subic at five knots. No personnel were injured. At NSRF Subic it was estimated that Waddell would require 16 to 18 weeks of repair plus two additional weeks for the ASROC systems check. Brinkley Bass, it was reported, would need a new bow.

Naval Advisory Group

Although the complexion of the war had been changed for several months by the events which brought direct military action by Americans in Vietnam, the Naval Advisory effort there was still very important. Some 900 of these advisors served the VNN on MARKET TIME patrol, in the River Assault Group, (RAG), and at 28 Junk bases.

On 13 February, a U. S. Navy Captain was designated Senior Advisor on Admiral Ward's staff. Since the CNO of the VNN was a captain this answered a need for a more correct working relationship between the two counterparts.

During February, the Naval Advisory Group turned over an LSSL to the VNN which completed delivery of five of these landing ships. Four River patrol craft (RPC) also arrived and were turned over to the River Force.

The construction of Yabuta junks in the Saigon shipyard -- a program long encouraged by the Naval Advisory Group -- received a blow during this month when the supply of Sao wood began to run out. Since Vietnam sources for this lumber also appeared exhausted, a substitute wood was obtained from Thailand so as not to delay the construction of 60 junks for the Coastal Force.

Several Coastal Group and Supply Corps advisors have proposed to Vietnamese Navy headquarters the establishment of marine diesel engine pools at supply centers throughout the country. When a junk engine incurs a casualty that is beyond the ability of the base personnel to repair, the inoperable engine would be "swapped" for one from the engine pool. In those cases where the repair work is beyond the capability of the personnel at the engine pool, a similar "swap" would be executed with one of the two major repair facilities or with the shipyard in Saigon. The problem of a limited number of technically trained personnel would be partially overcome, and the ability to quickly replace inoperable junk engines would keep the number of junks in operational status at a high level.

Authority was granted CHNAVADGRP to provide supplemental rations to two Vietnamese ships for a two month period. A similar project had been attempted with junk forces based at An Thoi but proved unsuccessful as the food was unpalatable to the Vietnamese. The present program, therefore, was limited to two ships for a short trial period. Inflation had effected the junior officers and crew's pay so that meats, vegetables, and fruits, usually purchased on open markets every few days, were out of price range. This not only effected their physical stamina, but caused disenchantment with their government.

In terms of the amount of goods distributed, the Vietnamese Navy Psychological Warfare Bureau is the Navy agency doing the greatest amount of civic action. However, the reports which institute the Psy-War Bureau's projects often originate with an advisor in the field, For example, in December a letter from the advisor at Coastal Group 24 to the advisor at the Vietnamese Navy's Psychological Warfare Bureau directed attention to a refugee problem on Hon Chua Island, five miles north of Tuy Hoa, Since that date tons of food, clothing, tools, and building materials have been sent to the 2,500 refugees, and the VNN Psy-War Bureau has scheduled a team of doctors, corpsmen, and social workers to visit the island every two weeks. This month a mosquito elimination project was carried out; work commenced on a community toilet; and funds were procured from the USAID province representative for a second village well.

A similar project was initiated by the advisor at Coastal Group 23 when he reported on refugee's problems at Song Cau. Here, 4,000 are now receiving assistance of a similar nature.

These are two examples of the large scale civic actions accomplished in February. However, on a lesser level, just as important was individual work performed by the advisor himself. At Rach Gia, a base without an assigned corpsman, the Navy advisor arranged for an Army corpsman to distribute MEDCAP material to people the advisor had seen during his patrol.

General Information

When the RVN released 21 North Vietnamese prisoners at the DMZ on 30 January, they all threw their gifts from the RVN, consisting of clothing, notions, and other useful items into the Ben Hai River as they crossed over the bridge. Through loudspeakers provided by VC receiving them, the ex-prisoners called these gifts "reminders of imperialism." Three others refused to return.

From the notebook of a VC party member of relatively high standing killed in October, it was learned that VC armed forces "should be doubled" and ammunition increased although what they had was better than when the Vietminh fought the French. Guerrilla war remained the primary policy, and the basic tactic was the ambush. Mobile warfare would be intensified,

The VC have devised a new method of sabotaging vehicles: the handle of a grenade is taped down after the safety-pin has been removed. It is then placed in a gas tank to explode when the tape is removed by the gasoline. According to tests, this might occur very quickly or after several hours depending on the amount and quality of tape used.

North Vietnam received an estimated $353 million in military aid from the Soviet Union between 1953 and the end of 1965. More than half was received after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964. This aid has mostly been in the air defense field -- AAA, SAM's, MIG's, and radar and communication equipment.

As SIGINT vessel Protraktor picked up Enterprise when she arrived back at Dixie Station early in February, the old wardroom joke about soviet trawlers being "addressees" on Movement Reports was revived. Protraktor had signaled good-bye in January when Enterprise had left for Subic and Hong Kong.S. B. Roberts (DD-823). assigned to keep an eye on Protraktor reported 16 men and two women on deck!

Movies aboard TF 77 ships during February covered a span of time from when Jackie Coogan was a boy to "The Beatles."

On terrorism, the American Embassy sent the following message to the Secretary of State:

"What we confront here is not a moralistic, patriotic group of civil war fighters, but a flagrant aggression based and directed from outside South Vietnam ... a group of highly trained terrorists are sent into a village. They ... put a dozen bodies on a main street -- old men, women, children, priests. Then they go to the leading man in town, cut off his head, walk it around on a pole. with the result that by mid afternoon there is not much difficulty in getting males 14 to 17 years old to join up..."

Two-channel TV was introduced into South Vietnam on 6 February by using U. S, Navy "Project Jenny" airborne capability. This consisted of a Navy EC-121 aircraft-air-borne from 12,000 to 15,000 feet beaming programs of news and education as well as entertainment.

Operational evaluation of a contraband-location device for MARKET TIME was completed in February and determined to be useful in conducting thorough "board and search" operations. CTF 115 recommended that 300 of these devices consisting of a ferrous probe and headphones be ordered for use on MARKET TIME ships.

The number of SAM sites increased to 93 in February with areas of concentration around Hanoi, Haiphong, Hai Duong, and Kep. A thinner focalization of SAM's was beginning to show between Thanh Hoa and Nam Dinh to the south of Hanoi. Not more than a third of these sites was occupied with firing elements, but increasing the number did improve the flexibility and mobility of their missile defenses.

Lessons Learned

1. CTF 115 advises that chain drags fitted with cutters have been successfully employed in cutting command wires to mines in rivers, but that the present maximum effective drag speed is 6 knots at 40 foot depths. This is because increased speeds lift the cutting device off the bottom. He feels a higher speed drag is necessary to increase the effectiveness of the sweep ahead of transiting merchant ships, and to minimize the vulnerability of mine countermeasure boats to harassing fire from the shore. Accordingly CTF 115 has requested the development of a simple, reliable, high speed drag to include such features as the capability to cut 1/4 inch wires on a single pass at 15 knot speeds at a depth of 60 feet.

2. COMCARDIV THREE warned that there have been reported cases where the U. S. Navy ship blocking the Soviet trawler found himself in an embarrassing position with the carrier as a result of his attempt to keep the trawler away. In this case the trawler had maneuvered the blocker into a dangerous situation. The lesson here is that without due care the blocker may become the real hazard instead of the trawler.

3. COMCARDIV THREE also points out the importance of recognition in this war -- with positive identification of enemy fighters and attack ships required by the existing Rules of Engagement.

4. On many occasions pilots have pointed out the value of the emergency radio gear, PRC-49A, which they carry with them. COMCARDIV THREE points out that almost 100 percent of the time the PRC-49A is required in order to make a successful pickup of a pilot downed in enemy territory. He points out, however, that while he was in WESTPAC, the PRC-49A failed to function properly in too many cases. (See CAW 7's "Survival Lesson" below)

5. COMCARDIV THREE states that the Public Information program in WESTPAC is of vital importance and requires a maximum of support and attention. It is a task that should not be shoved off on the most inexperienced officer on board, but rather handled by one who is experienced in PIO as well as competent in this field.

6. CAW 7 on Independence made the following modifications to survival equipment while in WESTPAC:

a. The whistle, two MK 13 Smoke/Flares, two dye markers, and compass were removed from the Scott kit since they were all found in the MK 3C life preserver. Added were three food packets, one bottle of leech repellent, a bottle of insect repellent, mosquito net, an ace bandage, and plastic kit with the following contents:

(1) Rotanone (fish killer)

(2) Antibiotic eye ointment

(3) Antibiotic ointment

(4) Ammonia inhalant

(5) Haiazone tablets

(6) Salt tablets

(7) Knife edges and needles

On the PRC-49A radio CAW 7 pointed out it was too inaccessible when packed in the para-container. If landing in enemy territory, evacuation of parachute and departure from the immediate area may become necessary. This will probably preclude unpacking of any survival gear located in the seat pan. Recent experience has shown the radio to be the primary aid in effecting rescue. CAW 7 pilots, therefore, removed the PRC-49A and packed it in a separate container to be carried by each pilot on every flight. This allowed the pilot to "hit the ground running" without sacrificing his best piece of equipment. Also, it made the PRC-49A available as a piece of emergency communication equipment in case of the plane's radio failure. Tests are not complete, but satisfactory communications have been made between aircraft at a distance of 30 miles. A side benefit is that the PRC-49A can be functionally tested every day.

To survival kits have been added:

a. 50 iodine water purification tablets

b. Styptic pencils

c. 8 malaria tablets (one a week required)

d. 1 pair of trousers

Each crew member is provided with an Aviator's First Aid Kit which includes morphine, several bandages, and oxytetracyclene tablets. This kit is attached to the standard squadron vest.

One hundred feet of type 3 shroud line (550# test) is carried in the survival vest to assist the crewmember in descending to the ground, should he become hung up in a tree -- a likely situation in many parts of Southeast Asia. Other items included in the Survival vest are:

a. Pen-flare gun with cartridges. Green and yellow cartridges recommended. Red is too much like tracer ammunition and could scare away rescue personnel as well as draw fire from the RESCAP.

b. Shroud cutter knife

c. Sheath knife (bolo preferred)

d. Strobe light, with extra battery

e. Leech repellent

f. Pistol with ball ammo or individual preference

7. COMUSMACV points out the tactical advantage obtained from the Army's Mohawk display of SLAR and IR information. He states that the target data that is immediately available to the Mohawk pilot provides an opportunity to engage the enemy before he can take evasive action. He has recommended to higher authority that Navy and Air Force aircraft be given a similar capability, citing MARKET TIME operations and interdiction efforts in both Laos and North Vietnam as examples where this equipment could be used effectively.

Glossary of Terms

IR - Infrared (photographic equipment) in Mohawk (Army) aircraft

MEDCAP - Medical Civil Action Program

MSB - Minesweeping boat; 55' wooden hull with diesel engine

Project Shoehorn - Program to provide self-protection electronic warfare equipment for strike aircraft in Southeast Asia

SLAR - Side looking airborne radar

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

Published: Thu Nov 12 08:09:19 EST 2020