|Summary||Vietnamese Marine Corps|
|Air Operations||Logistics and Service Force Operations|
|Naval Gunfire Support||Contract Construction|
|Market Time||Lessons Learned|
|Naval Advisory Group|
In August, the Navy afloat and ashore played a growing role in the counter-insurgency warfare of South Vietnam. Air attacks over North Vietnam increased as POL storage areas, munition dumps and logistic transport units were destroyed. MARKET TIME patrols expanded surveillance and search efforts to check the flow of supplies to the enemy by sea. Continued widespread use of accurate naval gunfire in both large and small operations assisted U.S. forces along the coastal plain. An increased capacity to deny inland waterways to the Viet Cong became evident as GAME WARDEN forces and capability in riverine warfare grew. The Service Force and MSTS continued to supply required materials for the Navy and for all U.S. services in country. Development of highways and bases, and progress in civic action and pacification, demonstrated the progress of the 76,737 Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard men in Vietnam during August.
USN-USCG-USMC Involved in Vietnam
In air operations a significant event was the shift of the Dixie Station carrier to Yankee Station, permitting more strikes around-the-clock against North Vietnam. Approximately 8,100 ROLLING THUNDER sorties against North Vietnam were flown this month, compared with 6,000 in July. Targets were primarily POL storage areas -- a carry-over from June and July -- lines of communications, supply movements, a thermal plant and a shipyard.
Ten Navy aircraft were lost in action: one from a SAM, nine from weapons-fire from the ground. All but two aircrewmen out of twelve were rescued -- one spectacularly deep within Haiphong harbor. Here a helo crew was subjected to almost continuous weapons cross-fire for over twenty minutes before they flew out with the rescued pilot.
Naval gunfire support was Maintained at a high rate throughout the Month. Some thirty SEVENTH Fleet ships supported large and small land warfare and amphibious operations with the Major support being in the I and III CTZs. Significant operations included DECK HOUSE III, COLORADO, SEA MOUNT, PAWNEE and JOHN PAUL JONES.
An impressive August mission was the quick response of USS Vogelgesang to an emergency call for NGFS to assist a Vietnamese outpost under night attack by a Viet Cong company. The fast reaction resulted in 70 VC killed, many wounded and eventual withdrawal of the Viet Cong. In addition to the five-inch guns of the destroyers, the long-range capability of the eight-inch battery on Saint Paul and the rocket barrage capability of Inshore Fire Support Division NINETY-THREE, other ships were brought into play at every opportunity. Over 31,000 rounds of 40mm, 3", 5" and 8" ammunition and over 9,000 rockets were fired, destroying 2400 structures and damaging 3300 others. About fifty sampans and junks were sunk and at least 200 Viet Cong killed.
During August, Marines were involved in 14 operations of battalion size or larger. Eleven of them were performed by units of III MAF, and the remainder by the SEVENTH Fleet Amphibious Ready Group/Special Landing Force. The 14 operations accounted for 651 confirmed enemy killed, 36 captured and 76 weapons seized.
During the period 16-28 August, the ARG/SLF conducted a two-phase amphibious operation called DECK HOUSE III in Binh Thy Province in the III CTZ. This operation was in support of U.S. Army Operation TOLEDO in the same area. Phase I of the action was concluded on 20 August following four days of search and destroy operations. On that date COMUSMACV requested the ARG/SLF be made available for further maneuvers in the same general area, about twenty miles southwest of the initial landing. D-Day for Phase II was 22 August and the operation continued through the 28th. Casualties amounted to 4 USMC KIA, 24 WIA; I VC: 2 KIA, 7 WIA and 18 captured.
MARKET TIME operations accounted for more than 124,000 detections of wooden and steel hulled craft, over 34,000 inspections and 23,000 boardings. The most active areas were along the coast from the DMZ south to Nha Trang. Here a dozen instances of smuggling were uncovered and almost 500 suspects were detained for interrogation. VP aircraft flew continuous surveillance flights each day and night. MARKET TIKE and Vietnamese naval forces supported Operation SEA MOUNT, a search and destroy action on Phu Quoc Island conducted by eight U.S. Special Forces personnel and a 220-man unit of specially recruited indigenous troops. This operation marked the first major military operation to attempt to clear Phu Quoc Island of Viet Cong. First reports indicated sixteen VC were killed, but subsequent prisoner interrogation revealed over 75 VC killed and an undetermined number wounded. Two U.S. Special Forces men were killed, one was wounded, and seven friendly troops were wounded.
On 11 August the Coast Guard Cutter Point Welcome was attacked in error by USAF aircraft. The commanding officer and one enlisted man were killed; eleven others were wounded.
Clashes between the Viet Cong and GAME WARDEN patrols increased in August as more of the Amphibious Force's PBRs became operational, and more territory was covered. Twenty-four of the new PBRs arrived in country, bringing the total to ninety-five. GAME WARDEN forces operated in the Mekong Delta and the Rung Sat Special Zone, searching sampans, destroying Viet Cong supply caches and interdicting VC river crossings. Over nine hundred two-boat patrols were conducted and approximately 48,000 wood-hull craft were detected. Of these, more than 10,000 were boarded. SEAL teams participated in approximately ten patrols which resulted in 35 structures destroyed or damaged, 10 sampans destroyed or damaged, and 30 Viet Cong killed.
During the month of August, Service Force and MSTS ships delivered nearly 1.5 million short tons of supplies which included over 76,000 tons of ammunition. Over a million tons of POL was also delivered.
One highlight in Service Force operations came on 28 August when USS Aludra (AF 55) delivered 650 tons of perishable provisions to NAVSUPPACT Danang. This unusual action was necessary to replenish stocks drawn down by gaps in regular MSTS reefer schedules. Backlog of Navy cargo at the Military Air Command's West Coast APOE reached an all-time high of 1,546,217 pounds on 29 August. However, a serious shortage of UH-1E aircraft was alleviated by CINCPACFLT on 11 August. Service Force ships conducted a total of 682 UNREPS --165 of them at night. The salvage operations for the month centered on SS Baton Rouge Victory, which was mined on 23 August in the Long Tau River approach to Saigon. Harbor Clearance Unit I, augmented by two additional teams, two heavy lift craft and YDT 11, cleared the river on 30 August.
Contractor construction in South Vietnam, which is managed by the Navy, reached its peak with more than 51,000 personnel and over 4,800 pieces of heavy equipment on the job at 47 different locations. Some 330 different projects were underway. An outstanding accomplishment during the month was the completion of a 10,000 foot asphalt-concrete runway at Danang. This, coupled with an 80,000 square-yard parking apron completed in June, gave the Marines a complete new facility.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps continued their civic action projects in Vietnam in connection with normal operations. A variety of programs included medical and dental treatment, and the delivery of building materials, clothing, soap and candy to villagers.
The Naval Advisory Group reported slight improvement in the esprit of Vietnamese naval personnel at all levels. At the end of August, however, the Vietnamese CNO was relieved of his duties by the Leadership Council and his Chief of Staff temporarily appointed to succeed him. The Vietnamese Coastal Force junks and Sea Force ships prosecuted their patrols and reported over 22,000 junks searched. An increased number of NGFS missions were fired by PCs and PCEs during the month. For example, PCE 09 bombarded a Viet Cong position southwest of Quang Ngai and destroyed three houses and damaged five others.
Throughout the month Vietnamese Marines were heavily engaged with the Viet Cong. Vietnamese Task Force BRAVO participated with U.S. Marines in Operation COLORADO from 6 to 14 August. Final results of this operation, designed to sweep organized enemy units from the coastal plain west of Tam Ky, were 504 Viet Cong killed, 400 more estimated killed, and 46 captured. Total Vietnamese Marine losses were 37 killed and 107 wounded.
In South Vietnam the political situation continued to improve in August, as preparations for the 11 September national election highlighted the political scene. The government was apparently making a determined effort to "get out the vote" in spite of threats against the people by the Viet Cong. Military activity remained at a low level, but preparations continued in expectation of a major enemy offensive. Greater VC emphasis on ship mining was noted.
In North Vietnam, construction activities involved coastal defense sites, rail lines, roads, airfields and SAM sites, progressed at high speed. The importation of POL by sea, however, appeared to be posing problems.
Questions continued at home and abroad on how to end the war. Peace on honorable terms was the goal of the United States. Premier KY, who had once suggested invasion of North Vietnam, said he "...would be willing to talk, if they would be willing to compromise...." Ho Chi Minh, however, was still holding out with the impossible demand that the U.S. forces withdraw prior to beginning any discussions.
At the beginning of August, Ranger and Constellation conducted air operations from Yankee Station. North Vietnam's POL systems continued to receive primary attention, but barges, junks, trucks, trains and railroad cars were also subjected to repeated air attacks.
On 4 August the Navy moved Intrepid north to Yankee Station canceling its Dixie Station carrier. This change yielded the immediate result of increased strike sorties against North Vietnam and improved efficiency of operations from the three carriers in the Tonkin Gulf, and canceled at least temporarily -- naval carrier air strike support in South Vietnam. Air support in the south continued by an increased number of Marine air units and by the Air Force.
Yankee Station Carrier Assignments
As one naval officer pointed out: "The idea of the carrier is mobility. You can use them one day in one way and have a whole new pattern 24 hours later." The effectiveness of the increased sorties against North Vietnam indicated that three carriers at Yankee Station would be the rule.
Ranger, after being relieved by Oriskany, departed for CONUS on 7 August, and three days later Roosevelt relieved Intrepid. Thus, the disposition of CVAs on the line in Southeast Asia for the remainder of the month was Constellation, Oriskany and Roosevelt. No carrier returned to Dixie.
During the week of this new alignment at Yankee Station, 13 large bridges and numerous smaller ones were destroyed. This included the dropping of a span on the Hon Duong railroad bridge on the main link between Hanoi and Haiphong. Enemy resupply efforts were also attacked with varying degrees of damage to an estimated 200 cargo junks and barges, and 100 trucks. Some of the barges carried POL that was believed to have been off loaded by a Soviet tanker. An estimated 2,000 tons of this POL was destroyed. Finally, the Uong Bi Thermal Power plant that was being reconstructed from TF 77's attacks in the spring was once more severely damaged.
During the final two weeks of the month, Constellation, Oriskany and Roosevelt aircraft continued the same tempo of operations. More than 20 large bridges were dropped, and more than 600 junks and barges, 280 trucks and 150 railroad cars were put out of action. New inroads were also made into POL reserves by successful strikes at Thanh Hoa, Duong Nham and Bai Thuong.
Air Munitions Delivered by USN and USMC
Individual carriers had particularly significant days during the month. For example, the 18th of August was described as "bridge day" for aircraft from Constellation. Besides conducting their usual strikes against supply movements and POL targets, Constellation aircraft made successful and damaging attacks against five highway or railroad bridges or their bypasses. The 25th of August was "barge day" for FDR. On that day 18 barges were eliminated from North Vietnamese inventory and another 21 were damaged. On 29 August, Roosevelt took another swipe at the enemy by destroying all major structures at the Dong Ngan shipyard.
With August representing the height of the typhoon season in the western Pacific, weather received its full share of attention. Except for tropical storm PHYLLIS from 2-4 August, weather factors did not seriously interfere with ROLLING THUNDER operations during the first half of the month. But during the latter half, and particularly toward the end of the month, low ceilings, poor visibility and numerous showers caused the cancellation of sorties or the diversion of aircraft to the more southerly Package Areas. Bombing accuracy was occasionally affected by strong and gusty winds.
The heavy tempo of air operations was not without its casualties to strike aircraft, as shown by Figures (1), (2) and (3).
|Date||Aircraft||Mission||Ship||Pilot/Crew Lost/Miss||Pilot/Crew Rescued [Map Reference]|
|*||Rolling Thunder (Missions over NVN)|
|Attack Sorties||Combat Support Sorties||Total Attack and Combat Support Sorties||A/C Lost||Pers Lost||A/C Damaged||A/C Attrit Rate|
|Total s||USN||5,020||3,421||8,441||10||3||44||0.13 %|
The enemy was generally unsuccessful with SAMs in August, but at times the sky over North Vietnam appeared to be "thick" with them, forcing pilots to take extreme evasive actions. The heaviest missile activity occurred on 16 August. A Vigilante RA-5C from Constellation, on a photo mission with F-4B escort, reported two SA-2 firings in one incident, causing both aircraft to dive to 1,000 feet. The first missile impacted in the Song Cia River after passing within 400 yards of the F-4B, and the second was seen to explode in a populated area east of Haiphong, setting the area afire. A pair of A-4Cs from Constellation on an armed reconnaissance mission in Package Area IV, also sighted two SA-2s about one mile from their flight immediately after hearing a SAM warning. A SAM "break" was called and the aircraft dove. Both missiles passed above them at ranges of 1,000 and 500 feet respectively, one of them detonating only 2,000 feet away. The "classic" event occurred on the evening of 16 August when an A-6A from Constellation observed the lift-off of two missiles in Package Area 6B. The A-6A broke right and dove to 900 feet in time to see the missiles pass astern about 1,500 feet and detonate two miles away. Just prior to the passing of the first two missiles, a second brace of missiles was launched. Missile number three passed approximately 300 feet astern of the aircraft, its detonation not observed. The fourth missile was not seen passing the aircraft, but was observed detonating approximately 1,500 feet abeam. The total elapsed time between the first four firings was about 10 seconds. A fifth missile passed aft of the A-6A but was not observed until detonation. A sixth missile launch attempt apparently misfired, as a large ball of fire was observed at the launch site and no missile was seen to lift. No SAM warning was heard prior to the initial firing; but two minutes later, a warning was heard from an unknown source.
Later in the month, on 27 August, a Constellation A-6A was downed by a suspected SAM in Package III. On 29 August, four SA-2 missiles were fired at Oriskany aircraft in Package 6B. None was damaged, but one SA-2 was observed to damage two fishing boats when it impacted and exploded in a junk concentration.
MIG encounters during August were relatively infrequent. On 16 August, however, a flight of four A-4Es from Oriskany was attacked by two MIG-17s over North Vietnam. The A-4s were making multiple attack runs on a train from various headings and altitudes, when one of the pilots noticed the MIGs approaching low from the northwest in trail formation. The A-4s, which had expended their ammunition, made a rapid descent to the southeast, when two of them were attacked by the MIGs firing 37mm cannon from six o'clock. The A-4Es out-turned the MIGs, which soon broke of f and departed to the northwest. No air-to-air missiles or rockets were fired in the encounter and no MIG warnings were heard. Strike aircraft from Oriskany again sighted a flight of MIGs on 23 August near Haiphong, but no attacks were attempted by either side.
A Positive Identification Radar Zone (PIRAZ) was established in the Gulf of Tonkin in July aboard a surface unit at 19-37N and 106-47E. Its mission is to:
a. Provide positive radar surveillance of all air operations over the Gulf of Tonkin, North Vietnam and other adjacent land masses north of 18-30N and between 105-00E and 110-00E.
b. Ensure all aircraft held are identified.
c. Monitor U.S. aircraft and:
1. Keep pilots informed of their positions upon request or when approaching buffer zone areas.
2. Sound alerts for SAR requirements when observed.
3. Provide a stable navigational reference for all friendly aircraft in PIRAZ.
d. Provide MIG warnings.
e. Provide AAW protection for friendly forces by own missile capability and control of CAP.
f. Assert the right of freedom of the seas in international waters.
Chicago (CG 11) and King (DLG 10) alternated on PIRAZ station during August. Chicago served until 11 August; King the rest of the month.
In summary, PIRAZ enhances our task force anti-air warfare posture, provides protection of our air resources through timely warning and control, and expedites the traversing of air traffic between the target areas, the CVAs and certain land bases.
Naval Gunfire Support
Naval gunfire support increased this month in South Vietnam as 30 ships expended over 31,000 rounds of 40mm, 3", 5" and 8 inch ammunition and 9,957 rockets while destroying 2,425 structures and damaging 3,321 others. The most active participants were St. Paul, St. Francis River and Mullinnix. Action was heaviest in the I and III Corps areas in support of search and destroy and amphibious operations. Results included 1,700 structures destroyed, 2,400 structures damaged, 50 junks and sampans destroyed or damaged, more than 200 Viet Cong killed and 30 secondary explosions. Effective evaluation of many missions was not possible because of dense jungle foliage. Major operations are tabulated in Figure (4).
Figure (4), NGFS for Major Operations in August
During the first week of August, Carronade (IFS 1) provided support on a daily basis to the 2nd ARVN Division and 2nd Division U.S. Army Advisory Group in the I Corps area south of Quang Ngai, with extensive destruction reported by air and ground spotters. On 2 August, St. Paul and O'Hare furnished support for Operation JOHN PAUL JONES, a five-battalion security operation under control of the 101st Airborne Division, in the vicinity of Tuy Hoa in II Corps. It had commenced 21 July to protect engineer work parties conducting road building near Vung Ro. The target area was investigated immediately after firing ceased, and considerable damage was reported. BEALE supported operation LAM SON in the I Corps area during the first ten days of August. On 7 August, Prichett provided gunfire support to the joint U.S. Special Forces and Vietnamese Army Operation SEA MOUNT in the vicinity of An Thoi. On the same day, St. Paul and Mullinnix fired at targets near Tam Ky in the I Corps area in support of Operation COLORADO, a regimental-size operation conducted in the Chu Lai area by the 5th Marines during 6-22 August. Noteworthy during the first week was the accurate fire of Holder, which accounted for 156 Viet Cong killed and four wounded in the III Corps area.
During the second week, Carronade continued operations with the 2nd ARVN Division and the 2nd Division U.S. Army Advisory Group in the vicinity of Quang Ngai during 8, 9, 10 and 11 August, with airborne spotters reporting extensive damage to VC assembly areas, storage areas, infiltration points and similar targets. Carronade was relieved by St. Francis River on 11 August. During this week, St. Paul and Mullinnix, under the control of 5th Marine NGLO, continued support for operation COLORADO and demonstrated the effectiveness of the Navy-Marine team. In another operation on 9 August, St. Francis River took under fire troops of the 183rd North Vietnamese Regiment staging south of Song Cao, with spotting done by the Song Cao Junk Force Commander, assisted by the USN advisor.
Among the smaller operations, an unusual mission was conducted on 9 August by the auxiliary ocean tug Tillamook which fired 46 rounds of 3-inch high-explosive ammunition at the request of friendly forces, while she was transiting the Long Tau River to Saigon. Two missions were also fired by destroyer escorts Koiner and Kretchmer which were called upon to furnish 3-inch support in conjunction with their MARKET TIME patrols.
During the week of 15-21 August, Prichett continued to provide support for operation SEA MOUNT in the IV Corps Area; and St. Paul, T. E. Chandler, Ozbourn, Mullinnix, Thomason, and St. Francis River provided gunfire support for operation DECK HOUSE III, firing 253 missions. Then on 19 August, while conducting fire support under control of the I Corps NGLO, Vogelgesang received an emergency call for fire to assist a Vietnamese outpost which was under night attack by a company of Viet Cong about one mile southeast of Phuong Lang Dong. Initial assessment of the bombardment revealed about 70 Viet Cong killed and many more wounded. The quick action by Vogelgesang resulted in the withdrawal of the Viet Cong.
During the last week, on 22 August, USS Hamner was called to assist two MARKET TIME patrol units which were being subjected to hostile fire. The bombardment quickly silenced the enemy.
Operation SEA MOUNT in the IV Corps Tactical. zone was given support during the remainder of the month by Dehaven, which bombarded Phu Quoc Island on several occasions with many fires being observed.
On 22, 23, and 24 August, Chevalier and Hollister fired in support of operation THUY TIEN 208 in the I Corps area on 25 August. On 26 August, Dehaven received a call for immediate fire from a Special Forces unit under heavy Viet Cong ambush. Fire in response to this call greatly diminished small arms resistance and cleared the way for a medical evacuation mission and eventual arrival of reinforcements.
Operation PAWNEE, a III MAF battalion-size search and destroy operation, commenced on 26 August in Phu Loc area north of Danang, with support being furnished by Beale.
During the last days of the month USS Radford, USS Evans and USS James E. Kyes joined in shore bombardment. Radford fired missions in the area north of Nha Trang; Kyes participated north of Phan Thiet and Evans lent her support to the I Corps area.
Regular MARKET TIME units, of which there were 13 DER/MSO/MSCs, 26 WPBS and 73 PCFs, conducted another 50 gunfire missions during the month in support of friendly forces under attack and damaged or destroyed nearly 40 junks and sampans. Frequently their targets were called in by spotter or reconnaissance aircraft with little or no advance warning.
In early August, COMUSMACV proposed that an amphibious operation be conducted in the Nay Tao area of southwest Binh Tuy Province, which intelligence sources indicated was a Viet Cong stronghold. The proposed operation, designated DECK HOUSE III, was to be conducted in construction with operation TOLEDO, a search and destroy operation involving the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Mao Tao mountain area 50 miles east of Saigon.
Figure (5), DECK HOUSE III
On 16 August, as the naval gunfire support ships St. Paul, Chandler and St. Francis River expended over 600 rounds of 5-inch rockets and other 5-inch ammunition in beach and helicopter landing zone preparation, the operation began. The Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) consisted of Iwo Jima, Vancouver and Thomsaton (LSD 28) with Special Landing Force (BLT 1/26 and HMM 363) embarked. The assault was executed as two companies of Marines landed in LVTs and LCM-6s, and two more companies landed by Iwo Jima's helicopters. All assault waves were on time, surf conditions were good, and only minor opposition was met in the landing area. The villages within the AOA were discovered to have been previously destroyed and deserted. There was no enemy contact or activity reported during the first day, but major physical obstacles were encountered inland from the beach. These consisted of sand dunes to a height of 35 feet, an extremely swampy area behind the beach, deep mud and swift streams to a depth of seven feet.
The first two days' action was typified by sporadic small arms fire from unknown numbers of the enemy. U.S. Marines sustained 1 KIA and 2 WIA through the 19th with unknown enemy casualties. C Company of BLT 1/26 discovered a village complex consisting of open thatched huts, a mess hall area, large supplies of wood and rice, and a field hospital equipped with crutches, battle dressings and beds. The village possessed defensive positions, including tunnel systems, and after an extensive search, they were destroyed.
Operation DECK HOUSE III continued through the 20th with only one significant enemy contact. In this encounter, a reconnaissance platoon heard continuous movement by enemy units in the vicinity of the pickup point. After the patrol leader had counted 30 VC passing his position, the patrol opened fire with automatic weapons at point blank range. Artillery, naval gunfire, helo gun-ships and close air support were also called in on the enemy. It was estimated that ten Viet Cong were probably killed and 14 wounded. The reconnaissance patrol itself was extracted without casualties.
As the Task Group left the objective area and steamed toward Vung Tau to off-load Vietnamese interpreters, COMUSMACV requested that a second phase of DECK HOUSE III
be executed approximately 20 miles to the south of the initial objective. This request was approved.
Phase II of DECK HOUSE III commenced on 22 August just 33 hours after the landing force had been reembarked from Phase I. All waves were on time with excellent surf and weather conditions prevailing. There was no opposition initially, and only light opposition occurred inland. There were no friendly casualties. The U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade continued operation TOLEDO to the north of the DECK HOUSE III beachhead, and the 1st Australian Task Force also operated in the area. Naval gunfire support was again provided by St. Paul, St. Francis River and J. W. Thomason (DD 760). Phase II, like Phase I, was characterized by little contact with the enemy. Groups of four to twenty-five Viet Cong were observed at distances too great to take under fire. Some enemy activity was reported to the west of the AOA.
On the 24th of August, the assault phase of operation DECK HOUSE III, Phase II, was terminated. Operational control of the Special Landing Force was passed to COMUSMACV and thence to the CG II FFORCEV for operations in support of operation TOLEDO.
Contact with the enemy continued to be limited to long range sniping with occasional sightings of groups of Viet Cong. However, the landing force located an abundance of enemy supplies and equipment consisting of 57mm recoilless rifle rounds, grenades, bins of rice, sulphur, penicillin, bandages, surgical equipment, small arms ammunition, and in one instance, two slaughtered hogs hanging to dry. The recent presence of the enemy was further indicated by the discovery of a hut in which a pot of hot water was on a small stove.
Cumulative casualties for Operation DECK HOUSE III were: USMC - 4 KIA, 24 WIA; VC - 2 KIA (confirmed), 7 WIA (probable), 18 VC suspects captured.
During DECK HOUSE III, Annapolis (AGMR 1) and NAVCOMSTA PHIL demonstrated the effectiveness of the mobile and fixed communication team. Mount McKinley (AGC 7), with CTF 76 embarked, was electronically patched into the Fleet Flash Net. Commander Amphibious Ready Group, CTG 76.5 and DECK HOUSE III OTC in Iwo Jima were tied in with Annapolis. The circuit from Iwo Jima was then extended from Annapolis to NAVCOMMSTA PHIL via a multi-channel radio trunk. NAVCOMMSTA PHIL patched the circuit to another multi-channel trunk to Mount McKinley. By this means, all traffic sent by CTG 76.5 was screened instantly by CTF 76. "Hot" traffic was then inserted onto the FFN, thereby keeping COMSEVENTHFLT and CINCPACFLT informed of the tactical situation.
During August, Marines were involved in 14 major operations of battalion size or larger. Eleven of them were performed by units of III MAF, extending into all five provinces of the I Corps. The remainder were performed by the SLF of the Seventh Fleet's Ready Amphibious Force which engaged in separate actions some 400 miles to the south on the littoral east of Saigon. These 14 operations accounted for 651 confirmed enemy killed, 36 captured and 76 weapons seized.
MAF Large Unit Operations
Counter guerrilla actions included 11,004 small unit operations with 179 of them company size. These operations resulted in 324 guerrillas killed and 35 captured. In comparison, 28 Marines were killed, the lowest number in six months.
Of the 975 enemy killed during August in all Marine engagements, 325 were casualties of attack aircraft of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The 5,437 fixed wing sorties were the second highest to date, compared with 3,790 in July and 1,703 in June. Helicopter sorties declined slightly from almost 42,000 in July to 36,000 in August. Most were for troop lift or troop supply.
During August, ships assigned to Task Force 115 continued their MARKET TIME operations supported by mobile bases at Danang and An Thoi, and by shore bases at Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Thu. Anti-infiltration patrols along the coast of South Vietnam interdicted Viet Cong and North Vietnamese lines of communications, thwarted smuggling and black market operations, captured draft dodgers and deserters, provided naval gunfire support and accomplished various other tasks. More than 122,000 detections of wooden hulled craft resulted in nearly 33,000 inspections and 23,000 boardings. Approximately 125 steel hulled craft were boarded. The most active areas were found along that part of the coast extending from the DMZ south to Nha Trang. A dozen instances of smuggling were uncovered, and almost 500 suspicious persons were detained for further interrogation. PV aircraft completed an average of eight patrols daily, and light reconnaissance aircraft flew visual surveillance flights each day.
An Thoi based MARKET TIME units operated in support of operation SEA MOUNT, a search and clear action on Phu Quoc Island, from 4 until 30 August. The operation was conducted by eight U.S. Special Forces personnel and a 220 man unit of specially recruited Vietnamese that was periodically augmented by 10 to 30 national policemen from Duong Dong Village on the island. In addition to gunfire and patrol support from the Amphibious Force's PCFs, and the Coast Guard WPBs, Seventh Fleet destroyers and VNN Fleet Command ships provided gunfire support; VNN Coastal Groups supplied junks and USS Tutuila (ARG 4) supplied an LCM for troop and logistic lifts. U.S. Air Force and Army aircraft provided air support.
SEA MOUNT was divided into three phases. In the initial phase a sweep was conducted from An Thoi north to latitude 10° 13' N. In the second phase a series of amphibious raids were conducted on the east coast of the island and against targets of opportunity. In the final phase a base camp was established near Duong long, and probes were made into the areas of heaviest Viet Cong concentration.
The operation marked the first major military operation to attempt to clear Phu Quoc Island of Viet Cong. Sixteen Viet Cong were killed by body count, but subsequent prisoner interrogation revealed over 75 VC were killed with an undetermined number wounded. Two U.S. Special Forces personnel were killed and one was wounded. Seven other friendly troops were also wounded.
During the period 16 August to 28 August, PCFs from Division 102 at Cat Lo conducted infiltration/exfiltration patrols off Phuoc Tuy Province in support of operation DECK HOUSE III. Patrol units, however, detected no Viet Cong waterborne movements during the period.
In general, most MARKET TIME patrols were routine, but some units participated in significant actions as follows:
On 1 August, PCF 35 provided gunfire support at the request of an air spotter in the vicinity of Bing Hung on Cape Ca Mau. See Map Point [A] Thirty-four rounds of 81mm mortar ammunition were expended in destroying one sampan, one bunker and one structure. Enemy casualties were unknown.
On 10 August, Kretchmer fired 43 rounds of 3-inch ammunition against a Viet Cong position in the IV Corps Area. [B] Koiner fired 32 rounds of 3-inch ammunition north of Qui Nhon [C] on the 11th of August. Results were not available.
On 11 August, a tragic incident occurred in which the Coast Guard Cutter Point Welcome was attacked by USAF aircraft near the DMZ. [D] The cutter sustained hits on the bridge and aft on the port side which resulted in the death of the captain and one enlisted man. Three other enlisted Ren, one Vietnamese navy man and one U.S. news correspondent were injured.
PCF 78 rescued a downed aviator on 14 August while on patrol south of Danang. [E] The pilot was in good physical condition and was transferred to Danang via helicopter.
On 21 August, PCF 76 observed two suspicious junks paralleling the coast 30 miles northwest of Chu Lai. [F] Warning shots were fired as the junks began to evade. PCF 76 then received gunfire from the beach; suppressed it and also damaged one of the junks. Viet Cong casualties were unknown. Two U.S. personnel were wounded aboard PCF 76 and were returned to Danang for medical treatment.
On 22 August, the cutter Point White, on patrol south of Phan Thiet, [G] provided urgent gunfire support for an aircraft spotter who was receiving ground fire. The mission resulted in a secondary explosion and three Viet Cong possibly killed. Point White was subjected to Viet Cong semi-automatic fire which was returned and suppressed. There were no friendly casualties.
On the 29th, Point Caution provided 81mm mortar support for Vietnamese popular forces on land patrol near Pho Hoi. [H] This fire was rendered for two hours as the Vietnamese engaged approximately 15 Viet Cong. Results included six Viet Cong KIA, five VC WIA and three Viet Cong captured. Two North Vietnamese sub-machine guns, two CHICOM assault rifles, two U.S. carbines, one 60mm mortar and assorted rounds of ammunition were captured. Friendly losses were limited to one Vietnamese wounded.
MARKET TIME Actions Map
GAME WARDEN operations continued during August for the 95 PBRs, 12 MSBs, 6 HU-1s and one SEAL detachment of TF 116 in the Mekong and Saigon River Deltas. These Amphibious Force units used Nha Be, Cat Lo, My Tho, Vinh Long, Can Tho, Sa Dec, and Long Xuyen as shore bases. GAME WARDEN forces covered the area searching sampans, sweeping for mines, destroying Viet Cong supply caches and performing a variety of other tasks. In completing some 917 two-boat patrols, the PBRs detected approximately
48,000 wooden water craft which resulted in over 10,000 boardings. Eighty PBRs participated in these patrols, while 15 completed outfitting and moved to Long Xuyen in preparation for operations. The MSBs were involved in approximately 130 patrols sweeping for Viet Cong mines, and the HU-1s completed nearly 120 armed helicopter patrols. USS Tortuga (LSD 26) moved to a new anchorage at Cat Lo in support of operations in the Long Tau River main channel. SEAL teams participated in approximately 10 patrols. These actions resulted in 35 structures destroyed or damaged, 10 sampans destroyed or damaged and 30 Viet Cong killed in action.
Clashes between the Viet Cong and GAME WARDEN patrols increased in August as more PBRs became operational and more territory was covered. On 12 August, a helicopter fire team engaged the Viet Cong near the mouth of the Song Hau Giong. [A] The helos destroyed four structures, damaged 13 others and damaged two sampans. Six Viet Cong were possibly killed with no friendly losses.
On the 15th, PBRs received automatic weapons fire while conducting a routine river patrol near Can Tho.[B] The fire was returned and suppressed with no casualties to friendly forces and unknown casualties to the enemy. This was the fifth incident of PBRs being taken under fire in this particular area, and it is believed to be a reaction to the PBR patrols that are escorting sampans past a suspected Viet Cong tax collection point.
On the 17th of the month, PBRS sighted a suspicious sampan with three passengers attempting to evade to the underbrush.[C] The suspects were ordered out for inspection, but the orders were ignored. The suspects were taken under direct fire and with the first burst a secondary explosion was observed. Results were three sampans destroyed and three Viet Cong possibly killed.
On 18 August, a SEAL Team on a reconnaissance patrol in the Rung Sat Special Zone located a Viet Cong supply cache which contained an estimated 200 tons of rice. [D] These rice silos were subsequently destroyed by air strikes and naval gunfire. Two PBRs were patrolling the Soi Rap River on the evening of the same day, when they sighted two contacts making a crossing. [E] Upon illuminating them the PBRs were taken under fire from the river banks and the sampans, but no friendly casualties resulted. The investigation of the sampan disclosed one CHICOM carbine, one Mauser rifle, two cartridge belts, one grenade and 120 rounds of ammunition
On the 22nd of the month, a helo fire team on an armed reconnaissance mission located and destroyed three Viet Cong huts in the Rung Sat Special Zone. A direct hit on the largest of the structures produced a secondary explosion. A post-mission reconnaissance of the area disclosed that these structures were storage areas for large quantities of rice. [F] Also on the 22nd, PBRs on patrol detected and illuminated a sampan in the Song Tieng Giang. [G] The sampan which contained two Viet Cong, opened fire on the PBRs. Automatic weapons fire was also received from the river banks. This fire was returned, killing the two Viet Cong in the sampan and suppressing the enemy's fire from the shore. An investigation of the sampan revealed 100 documents -- many of a classified nature -- personal items, a radio, a pistol, a Vietnamese flag, field equipment -and tools. This incident was evaluated as a crossing attempt by a high ranking member of the 261st Viet Cong Main Force Battalion.
On the 26th, two PBRs were fired upon while patrolling the Cua Cung Hau River. [H] They returned the fire and were aided by a South Vietnamese river patrol craft and a USN helo fire team. The fight ended when the Viet Cong position erupted in a large secondary explosion. The fireball from the explosion penetrated the 400 foot overcast. Enemy casualties were unknown.
On the naval scene, long reported rumors of VC mining efforts became factual. One potentially disastrous mining attempt was foiled on 14 August when the agent was captured. Interrogation revealed that the VC swimmer, along with five accomplices, had placed mines on two dredges. Both mines, of the command type, were recovered.
Viet Cong mining success was achieved on 23 August against the MSTS ship Baton Rouge Victory, approximately 12 miles southeast of Saigon near Nha Be. Fortunately, the crew was able to beach the damaged ship and avoid blocking the critical Long Tau River channel. Mines also damaged one MSB of Task Force 116 and one South Vietnamese patrol craft. Despite its crude method and lack of success in interdicting a main waterway, Viet Cong mine warfare was a serious threat since 98 percent of all free world military war supplies reach Vietnam by sea. To the Viet Cong, mine warfare represents a relatively inexpensive and attractive method of inflicting damage on U.S. forces.
MSB 54 and MSB 16 were conducting a sweep of the Long Tau [I] on 29 August when MSB 54 was rocked by an explosion which occurred approximately 15 feet off her port bow. Semi-automatic weapons fire was also received from the beach. Two PBRs in the vicinity came to the assistance of the MSB, suppressed the enemy fire and escorted the damaged MSB 54 clear of the area. MSB 54 sustained numerous hull cracks and shock damage to the boat's compasses, radios, radar and starters on two main engines. There were no friendly casualties.
GAME WARDEN Map
GAME WARDEN Graph
Vietnam Navy Coastal Group Bases
The ability of the Vietnamese Navy to accomplish assigned tasks remained satisfactory. However, inadequate aggressiveness, poor personnel distribution, limited training and experience, and inadequate numbers of shipyard workers seriously slowed any further improvement.
On 29 August, the Leadership Council relieved Captain Tran Van Phan, Commander-in-Chief, Vietnamese Navy, of his duties, charging him with smuggling and misappropriation of funds. The post was offered to and refused by Commander Nguyen Nuc Van, Senior VN Commander. It was then temporarily filled by the Navy Chief of Staff, Commander Anh, who was installed as CNO on 31 August. Aside from this event, the leadership of most senior officers was improving, but the leadership and professional knowledge of petty officers left something to be desired.
The Vietnamese Coastal Groups participated in blocking and amphibious operations and setting up base defense ambushes. One exemplary action occurred when Coastal Group 14 and local forces participated in Operation HOA TUYEN, four kilometers south of Hoi An from 21 to 27 August. Five junkmen were wounded, 700 kilograms of rice and 100 kilograms of salt were captured, and six Viet Cong were slain.
HOA TUYEN Map
Coastal Group 36 in the Third Naval Zone made frequent contact with Viet Cong junks while patrolling the Bassac River. On 4 August one of these patrols intercepted a VC junk, killed two occupants, and captured the junk. On 15 August, this same Coastal Group operating with Vinh Binh sector forces and supported by PGM 607 and several USAF aircraft, conducted an operation in the vicinity of Ap Cu Lao. The force captured a 57mm recoilless rifle, 18 Russian rifles, 124 mines, thirty rockets, about three tons of ammunition and destroyed one junk, two weapon storage areas, and a number of defense works and barracks. The Fourth Coastal Naval Zone conducted sixteen amphibious operations and was involved in several fire fights.
Fleet Command PCs and PCEs were utilized for gunfire and for coastal patrols in I, II and IV Naval Zones and the Rung Sat Special Zone. An increase of NGFS missions fired by the PCs and PCEs was noted during August. One notable mission took place on 3 August when PCE 09 bombarded a Viet Cong position southwest of Quang Ngai and destroyed three houses and damaged five others. Also, eight junks were sunk and six damaged.
MLMSs provided daily sweeps of the Long Tau River. On 23 August, MLMSs 150 and 151 were attacked from ambush by Viet Cong recoilless rifle and small arms fire. Damages resulting from this attack reduced for two days the number of craft available for sweeping to four.
Two significant operations were RUNG SAT 29/66 and RUNG SAT 34/66. The first took place on 5 August with eleven craft of RAG 22 and regional and popular (RF/PF) forces participating. There were no friendly casualties, but the Viet Cong suffered three killed. Friendly forces destroyed two bases including sixteen houses, 2,200 kilograms of unshelled rice, five junks, fifty bags of cement and thirty jars of salted fish. A quantity of fish nets, documents and photographs were also captured. On 25 August, seven craft of RAG 22, LSSL 228 and RF/PF elements were involved in RUNG SAT 34/66. They also suffered no casualties, but destroyed one base, one water tank and one defensive position. Six U.S. fighter aircraft provided support for both operations.
RAGs were involved in twelve operations in the Fourth Riverine Area. On 2 August, operation LONG PHI 980/SD, organized by the 9th Division, was carried out nine kilometers north of Ba Cang and was most successful. Twelve river craft of RAG 23 and LSIL 331 participated. The friendly unit sustained nine wounded; the Viet Cong had seven killed and two captured. The Vietnamese force captured one 60mm mortar, one .50 caliber machine gun, one .30 caliber machine gun, thirty-five small arms and one ton of ammunition.
On 23 August, a detachment of eight LDNN (Vietnamese Navy UDT) personnel was sent to complete a structural survey and recover bodies of seven crewmen believed trapped in the machinery space of the Baton Rouge Victory, damaged by a mine in the Long Tau channel. The detachment returned early the following day, when attempts to recover bodies were abandoned because of extreme hazards to divers.
Task Force BRAVO, composed of the First, Third and Fourth VNMC Battalions, "C" Battery VNMC Artillery and a Headquarters, participated in operation COLORADO/LIEN KET 52 from 6 August to 14 August. This was a joint USMC/ VNMC/ARVN operation in Quang Tin Province, 14 kilometers southwest of Thang Binh. The Task Force initially occupied blocking positions while the Fifth U.S. Marines conducted the attack. On 6 August the Task Force made contact with an estimated Viet Cong battalion, and from 7 through 9 August made moderate to light contact. The Fourth VNMC Battalion uncovered over 100 Viet Cong bodies, believed to have been casualties from the action on 6 August.
COLORADO/LIEN KET Map
In Phase II of the operation, the Task Force continued striking generally east through the morning of 13 August when they were hit by an estimated reinforced Viet Cong battalion. The Third Battalion made initial contact and held commanding terrain despite heavy mortar, recoilless rifle and automatic weapons fire. The Fourth Battalion, maneuvering to the southwest, also was taken under heavy fire and requested air support. A task force of armored personnel carriers from the adjoining Sixth ARVN Regiment was committed to a flanking attack. By 1600, all three Vietnamese battalions were under heavy attack by the Viet Cong force, later shown by captured documents to be a reinforced regiment. The battle continued until artillery took over the task of containing the Viet Cong. Airborne observers reported the enemy positions littered with bodies, - -
but despite continuous artillery fire and flare drops during the night, the enemy managed to remove most of the dead and wounded.
Results of the operation from 6 August to 14 August were 504 Viet Cong killed, and 46 Viet Cong captured, including 17 North Vietnamese. Also captured were 54 weapons, one radio, 12 field telephones and various other equipment and ordinance. Total Vietnamese Marine losses were 37 killed and 107 wounded.
On 25 August Task Force ALPHA was committed to operation LAM SON 303, a search and clear operation along the coast 15 kilometers east of Hue. The operation terminated on 28 August. Eleven Viet Cong were killed and eight were captured; one crew-served and seven individual weapons were seized. The Marines incurred seven wounded. Task Force ALPHA remained in the vicinity of Hue until the end of the month.
Throughout August, units of the Vietnamese Marine Corps were heavily engaged with Viet Cong and NVA forces and incurred light to moderate casualties. Junior officers and NCOs met their challenges well and displayed --good leadership and high morale.
During August, MAC air cargo backlogs on the west coast rose to new highs. Navy backlogs reached 1,546,217 pounds on 29 August. The previous high had been 1,160,000 pounds on 3 May 1966. In an effort to reduce backlogs, Commander Military Transportation Management and Terminal Service took action to restrict inputs of all cargo other than Transportation Priority One to certain APOEs. Navy cargo for Kadena -- largely for USMC -- was included in this restriction. USS Aludra (AF 55) delivered 650 measurement tons of perishable provisions to NSA Danang on 28 August. This unusual action was necessary to reconstitute Danang reefer stock levels diminished by gaps in regular MSTS reefer schedules. On the positive side, Flag Pole item F-1, shortage of UH-1E aircraft, was closed by CINCPACFLT on 11 August.
Major Service Force accomplishments within country were the completion of the interim MARKET TIME base at Cam Ranh Bay and the support of CTF 116 helicopters at Nha Be with ammunition and fuel for night operations. To provide faster response to repair parts requirements for PBRs, PCFs, and Coast Guard WPBS, agreement was made to transfer all spare parts for these units from Subic Bay to Saigon. At Danang, the Naval Support Activity, another Service Force Pacific command, additional security measures were taken by increasing the number of sentries and providing daily inspections of anchor chains and hulls for mines.
Emphasis during the month at NSA Saigon, another Service Force command, was on the development of GAME WARDEN bases. At Vinh Long additional berthing space was leased; at My Tho proceedings were begun to acquire a new villa; at Nha Be and Qui Nhon the drilling operations which had failed to produce fresh water were continuing. At Nha Be habitability facilities were completed, and at Cat Lo preparations were made for the construction of a helicopter landing site. In the planning stage, NSA Saigon reviewed the Advance Base Functional Components for an interim facility at Dong Tam. Equipage continued to arrive throughout the month, bringing housekeeping and repair facilities to a higher state. During this month, all GAME WARDEN facilities were reported operationally ready with the exception of teletype and communication facilities at Long Xuyen and Sa Dec.
In fields other than GAME WARDEN, NSA Saigon started procuring personnel and material to improve safety at the An Thoi airstrip. Goals here were improvement of air/ground communications, wind direction/velocity indicators, crash fire-fighting equipment, strip operating personnel, and NOTAM reporting procedures. The command assumed the responsibility of Seventh Fleet ammunition storage at Cam Ranh Bay. The Supply Department prepared line item requirements for the PCF engine overhaul program, and forwarded them to Naval Ships Systems Command Headquarters, in an effort to streamline repair capability. The Public Works Department was providing generator maintenance assistance to the Coast Guard LORAN station on Con Son Island. Action was taken to establish a pipeline for public works and vehicle equipment peculiar to Navy use to ensure good replacement capability on items stocked. A progress report at the end of the month was that one-third of the automotive equipment requested had been received.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion strength in Southeast Asia increased in August as MCB-9 and MCB-4 joined MCB's 1, 3, 6, 7, 10 and 11 already deployed. The average strength of each of these eight battalions was 786 men.
Service Force pacific salvage operations for the month centered on SS Baton Rouge Victory, which was mined in the Long Tau River on 23 August. The ship was intentionally beached to prevent blocking the channel. Harbor Clearance Unit I, augmented by two additional teams, two heavy lift craft and YDT 11 successfully cleared the river on 30 August. The wreck was deposited at Vung Tau where salvage operations commenced.
Hospital ship Repose operated in the vicinity of I Corps throughout the month. The highest count of patients on board was 432 on 18 August. Additionally, the combined average patient census for naval medical facilities of the III MAF, the hospital at NSA Danang, and Repose reached its highest average of 820 in August.
In South Vietnam contractors were mobilized by the Officer in Charge of Construction (OICC) at 47 different locations and had approximately 330 projects underway. This field activity of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command was responsible for managing contract construction in the country.
During the month, contractor mobilization reached its peak of over 51,000 personnel and over 4,800 pieces of heavy equipment. However, to keep costs at a minimum, the work force was reduced to 43,000 by the end of the month. Construction proceeded at a rate of $36.4 million per month, well above targets which called for a peak of $40 million per month by October 1966.
Early in the program, an airfield was built at Pleiku in which Vietnamese crushed the necessary rock by hand. By 31 August there were 12 crushing plants in South Vietnam, turning out 1,805 tons per hour.
One of the most significant accomplishments in August was the completion of a 10,000 foot asphalt-concrete runway at Danang on 5 August. This, coupled with an 80,000 square yard parking apron completed on 25 June, gave the Marines a complete new facility. Further south, concrete was being placed on the airfield at Cam Ranh Bay at the rate of 1,200-1,500 lineal feet of 25 foot wide lanes per day.
In port development, the first permanent prefabricated pier was completed by the contractor on Observation Point at Danang on 28 August. This project called for the construction of two permanent prefabricated deep-draft piers, 80 feet wide by 600 feet long and the installation of two DeLong pier units for an additional 90 feet wide by 600 feet long pier. The permanent pier was fabricated at Poro Point in the Philippines and the sections were towed by barge 1,000 miles across the South China Sea for installation at Danang.
Other facilities completed during the month of August included:
(a) Troop housing for 6,000 men.
(b) 360,000 square yards of airfield paving.
(c) 2 deep-draft berths.
(d) 15,000 square feet of aircraft maintenance facilities.
(e) 120,000 barrels of POL storage.
(f) 200,000 square feet of ammo storage.
(g) 45,000 cubic feet of cold storage.
(h) 85,000 square feet of covered storage.
(i) 1,000 square yards of open storage.
(j) Hospital facilities totaling 350-beds
On the military front, allied operations continued to spoil the enemy's offensive preparations as indicated by the decline in the number of large scale attacks. Infiltration, however, continued at a high level, reaching a total of 35,000 thus far this year. It was expected that there might be twenty-five North Vietnamese regiments in South Vietnam by the end of 1966.
In spite of the enemy's heavy losses (40,000 killed, captured or defected) in RVN so far this year, there was no evidence to indicate any serious decline in his morale. The strength of Viet Cong and North Vietnam Army forces, in fact, was increasing. (EOB in January 1966 - 253,600; EOB in August 1966 - 270,000).
During August, there was ample evidence of a major Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army buildup in the Northern I Corps and Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) areas. strikes conducted over a two day period resulted in 92 secondary explosions, indicating the presence of substantial amounts of ammunition or POL in the area. Fifteen trucks were all destroyed or damaged, and there were reports of heavy troop movement.
Additional evidence of the buildup was noted by Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam, who reported an enemy seaborne logistics effort underway in and near the DMZ. The military cargoes were reportedly being moved by junk along the North Vietnamese coast -- usually within a mile of the shore line -- and landed at various points between Deng Hoi and the 17th parallel. The entire operation, including the overland movement from the coast to the final destination, was conducted between dusk and dawn using 20-50 junks nightly.
One of the most formidable problems facing the Viet Cong in South Vietnam was disease. Reports revealed that malaria, diarrhea and other illnesses were downgrading Viet Cong combat effectiveness. About 50% of the malaria victims had to be sent home or hospitalized for periods up to 14 days. In addition, the constant movement to escape detection and the sporadic delivery of vital food and medical supplies were reducing the VC's ability to return their sick and wounded to duty.
A variety of new construction activities were discovered this month in North Vietnam. Several coastal defense sites, potential threats to naval units in the Tonkin coastal areas, were activated in southern North Vietnam. On 15 July, photography showed that the Quang Khe site had three artillery guns and a probable early warning radar. Aerial photography of 29 July revealed five additional sites east of Ha Tinh. All of the sites had two revetted positions occupied with possible 100mm field guns. These guns have a maximum effective range of nearly 23,000 yards. It was considered likely that the sites were activated in expectation of shore bombardment by U.S. Navy ships.
Discovery of standard gauge railroad cars in the northeast this month indicated that the dual gauge track construction in North Vietnam now extended to the CHICOM border.
Another facet of North Vietnamese accent on lines of communication was the use of cables and wooden planks as decking over unserviceable bridge spans or bypasses. While this technique was seen as early as February of this year, it was not until this month that this jury rig was considered capable of supporting single loaded truck traffic up to a minimum of 10 tons. At least 17 of these cable crossings were detected on principal lines of communication in North Vietnam, and on one route in Laos. The support cables for these bridges are strung to deadmen well to the rear of the original bridge abutments. Their makeshift nature and unique construction make these bridges extremely difficult targets and render serviceability to the many bombed-out river crossing points.
Other construction activity this month included new airfields and SAM sites. The airfield at Son Toy, 18 miles west of Hanoi, was in the early stages of construction as revealed by air photography on 5 August. A taxiway of an estimated 5,000 foot length was being built, and about 10 revetments were under construction along the taxiway. A second airfield at Dam Ha, 60 miles northeast of Hanoi, was believed to be getting a hard surface after having previously been abandoned. Construction material appeared to be present near the 2,200' X 160' runway, and a small parking apron was evident. Construction work was also proceeding at two previously detected NVN airfields at Yen Bai and Bai Thuong.
The proliferation of SAM sites also continued at a high level this month. Nine new sites were added in August compared to 11 during July and four during June. The latest additions raised the total in North Vietnam to 133. The SAM "kill" figure for manned aircraft was 29, with 20 confirmed and 9 probable. The effectiveness ratio of missile firings versus downed aircraft was 26.9 to 1.
Further additions to North Vietnam's defensive weapons inventory were confirmed by photos of air-to-air missile equipped MIG-21 aircraft at Phuc Yen airfield on 17 August. The missiles were probably AA-2/Atolls, which are very similar to U.S. Sidewinders.
Various communist attempts to effect POL deliveries occupied much of the naval interest this month in North Vietnam. According to a DIA assessment, North Vietnam's ability to unload POL from ocean going tankers was severely impaired by the "barge-busting" strikes in connection with the Soviet tanker Komsomol's unloading activities. Air strikes on the 1st and 4th of August destroyed or damaged four and possible six tank barges in the inland area near Hon Gay. On 12 August, 4 more tank barges were reported destroyed. These steel barges measured about 150' X 30', have diesel-powered pumps, and hold some 600 metric tons of POL. DIA estimated that North Vietnam had only about 10 such barges capable of unloading and ferrying bulk POL to dispersed positions.
Soviet Bulk Oil Shipments to North Vietnam
Despite the fact that the unloading of Komsomol was hampered, another Soviet tanker, Buguruslan, arrived in North Vietnam on 26 August. Reconnaissance on the 28th showed Buguruslan anchored in Ha Long Bay with four 130-foot barges alongside. This was the same area in which Komsomol had been anchored from the beginning of July until her departure on 14 August. Reconnaissance on the 31st showed that Buguruslan had moved to a known tanker anchorage in the roadstead about six miles northeast of Haiphong. Discharging into lighters and barges in Haiphong was probably considered by the Soviets and North Vietnamese to be safer (considering the Komsomol failure) since they probably felt that strikes would not be made in a congested harbor. Only one barge was located alongside the tanker at this time. Since the Buguruslan was still riding very low in the water, little if any POL appeared to have been transferred. However, deceptive simultaneous off-loading of POL and ballasting with salt water was a possibility.
TF 77 surface units performed shadowing and blocking operations against Soviet Lentra Class AGI Gidrofon operating in the vicinity of U.S. naval forces in the South China Sea throughout August. On 5 August, Deliver (ARS 23) reported that Gidrofon made four deliberate attempts to cross the tracks of U.S. aircraft carriers which were conducting flight operations against North Vietnam. On 12 August, Deliver reported that Gidrofon had attempted to penetrate the destroyer screen of Kearsarge (CVS 33) on three occasions.
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel continued their civic action projects in Vietnam during the month of August in conjunction with their normal operations. A variety of programs were conducted by U.S. Marines, Navy Seabees, NSA Danang personnel and other naval organizations.
During operation DECK HOUSE III, Phase II, an injured Vietnamese farmer had his first contact with the U.S. Navy and Marines when he was treated on board Iwo Jima (LPH 2), flagship of the SEVENTH Fleet Amphibious Ready Group.
The August accomplishments, listed by geographical location of eight Naval Mobile Construction Battalions were as follows:
Danang: MCB-1 personnel delivered ten truck loads of scrap lumber to various villages, a nearby refugee camp and a Vietnamese Army Ranger compound. Medical personnel provided treatment for 795 Vietnamese, and dentists treated 655.
Seabees from MCB-6 medically treated 1,425 villagers in one hamlet and provided dental care for 68 of another. Forty pounds of clothing, soap and candy were distributed as far as it would go, and English lessons were given to several adults and children who were interested. The Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) team also made several special trips to Son Thuy to assist the Vietnamese in treating a bedridden patient.
MCB-9 deployed to South Vietnam on 4 August, and following its arrival, provided daily MEDCAP sick call to local villagers. MCB-10 MEDCAP continued to treat local villagers at the Vietnamese sick bay during August. They also distributed soap and clothing to the needy.
MCB-ll civic action consisted of medical care for 408 My Thi villagers and dental care for 11. Garbage was delivered daily to the My Thi orphanage for use in feeding livestock. A platoon-size force provided 24-hour security for this village. At the My Thi school, 150 students received eight hours of English instruction, and $40 was donated to the school for teachers' salaries. A tin roofed medical aid station was constructed for the village at the end of the month.
Chu Lai: MCB-3 medically treated 52 Vietnamese On the island of Ky Hoa. Battalion personnel assisted in leveling the ground for an orphanage and delivered over 250 pounds of school supplies to an elementary school.
Civic action was continued through MEDCAP by medical and dental personnel of MCB-4 until the battalion ended its deployment on 18 August. On 15 August, MCB-40 arrived in Vietnam and continued to provide medical and dental assistance to the local populace.
Hue and Phu Bai: MEDCAP treatment was given to 375 villagers and dental assistance to 249 villagers by MCB-7.
The battalion distributed 16 gallons of paint, 16 tons of laterite, 25 empty ammunition boxes, 283 school kits, 300 toothbrushes, 280 tubes of toothpaste, 710 bars of soap and 19 truck loads of scrap lumber. Through donations, battalion personnel were supporting seven Vietnamese children in the local village school.
NSA Danang continued its civic action program during August by providing assistance to villages, orphanages, schools and the Danang Hospital. When a village was burned out by a plane crash, NSA provided medical and fire fighting assistance, and helped to restore the damaged area. Food and dunnage for rebuilding were also provided. In other civic action programs, the sum of 20,000 Vietnamese dollars was donated to orphanages, and the Freight Terminal Division donated 30,000 Vietnamese dollars for construction of a school. One hundred short tons of coal were shipped to Hue to keep the local kilns in operation.
(a) Recent air encounters in SEASIA and the results of COMOPTEVFOR tests revealed the need to shorten Sparrow AIM-7D/E arming time and modify the AMCS Aero 1A system to improve capability for close-in kills during air-to-air combat.
(b) Based upon the experiences of LTJG Dieter Dengler who had recently escaped from a communist prison camp in northern Laos, action was taken to indoctrinate all aircrew members flying in combat areas with the importance of carrying only those documents authorized and not anything else. Documents to be carried are the Armed Forces Identification Card, a Geneva Convention Card and dog tags. The immunization card may be carried provided it does not reveal the individual~s unit or its location. Other items, such as family photos or good luck charms, could be used as levers in interrogations.
(c) The continuing need in naval gunfire support for the extended range capability of guns heavier than those mounted in destroyers was evident and should be recognized in future planning. There were several occasions during August when Saint Paul's 8-inch guns were used against targets at ranges up to 29,500 yards.
(d) Planning for future procurement of VT (proximity-fused) 5-inch ammunition should recognize the need for substantial quantities of VT-NSD (non-self-destroying) ammunition for NGFS.
(a) The most needed item in VF aircraft in August was a built-in identification system to simplify the destruction of the MIG threat.
(b) SAR capability was not keeping pace with the increased tempo of air strike operations. Through August it had not been possible to maintain a SAR helo capability consistently on both the north and south SAR stations. The primary reason for this was a lack of sufficient destroyer helo platforms in WESTPAC to maintain a heel-and-toe capability on station.
(c) There were, at the time of the debrief, no provisions for the eventual rescue of aircrewmen who might successfully manage to evade or escape in North Vietnam. No useful information was being given to pilots that would help them to return to friendly forces once they were downed in North Vietnam. The safe area concept was not in effect. Therefore, the following recommendations were made:
(1) Institute the safe area concept in North Vietnam.
(2) Designate pickup points in North Vietnam that can be regularly checked for the presence of evading airmen.
GAME WARDEN Statistical Summary, August 1966
1. PBR Statistics:
|a.||Total Patrols (two boats):||Day||398||Night||519|
|f.||Total Patrol Hours:||19,631|
|Total Possible Patrols:||2,113|
|Average Daily Patrol Hour Per Boat:||9.3|
2. Helo Fire Team Statistics:
|c.||Total Flight Hours:||330|
|d.||Helo Missions Supported:|
|-1||12||reaction support of river patrols|
3. GAME WARDEN Totals:
MARKET TIME Statistical Summary, August 1966
1. Average number of U.S. ships/craft on patrol during month:
|Total||--||--||--||495(30)||1,113(30)||5 Patrol Days|
2. Average number of VNN ships/junks on patrol during month:
|Sea Force||River Force||Coastal Force|
|Total||178 (27 days)||3,113||4,454|
3. U.S. Activity:
4. VNN Activity:
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