U.S. Coast Guard Patrolling Persian Gulf

Autarchic 2012/02/16 15:52:15

The Coast Guard in Vietnam


(Copied from The Coast Guard Reservist, November 1996 by Vern Toler)

Vietnam is usually remembered as a war fought jungles and rice paddies. But there was another conflict as well, a sailor's war, much of it fought from the decks of United States Coast Guard Cutters. The Coast Guard played a significant role in securing Vietnam's 1,200-mile coastline. Some 8,000 Coast Guardsmen and 56 different combatant vessels were assigned to duty there. Coast Guardsmen destroyed enemy supply ships, supported ground units, rescued American and other friendly forces, and performed many more duties, including carrying out humanitarian roles which are common to the Coast Guard. Yet The Coast Guard's involvement in Vietnam Was is still little known. So this year, as America salutes its servicemen and women on Veterans Day, We pause to remember in particular our Coast Guardsmen who served in a land thousands of miles from home, Vietnam, roughly three decades ago.

Early in the Vietnam War, The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese obtained their supplies in many ways. Forces allied with the Republic of South Vietnam could not stop the enemy's flow of men, arms and supplies.

During February 1965, A U.S. Army pilot flying over Vung Ro Bay near Qui Nhon noticed an "island" moving slowly from one side of the bay to the other. Upon closer observation, he saw the "island " was a carefully camouflaged ship.

Intelligence sources determined the ship was North Vietnamese and engaged in supplying enemy forces. Air strikes were called in and the vessel was sunk.

A tight security and surveillance system was necessary. This would be no easy chore with 1,200 miles of coastline to patrol and over 60,000 junks and sampans to control. To provide this coverage, the Coastal Surveillance Force was established in March 1965, called Market Time after the native boats using the waterways for fishing and marketing, this task force provided a single command to integrate sea, air, and land-based units and coordinate U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and South Vietnamese naval units.

Squadron One

The backbone of the Coast Guard Fleet were the twenty-six 82-foot patrol boats (WBP). Known as Squadron One. The 82-footer's main job was choking off the enemy's sea borne supplies. Much of the action took place near the border, Division 12, out of Danang in the north, patrolled the 17th parallel. Division 11, based at An Thoi in the south, guarded the border between South Vietnam and Cambodia. At first, these patrol boats formed a barrier from the shore straight out into the ocean. They were to cut off the enemy as they tried to enter South Vietnamese waters. But the North Vietnamese sent their supplies in large steel-hulled vessels far out to sea and beat the blockade by going around it.
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