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Back to "BATTLE FOR THE PARACEL"

           This page (part II of RVN Navy's Battle Ships Inventory) is dedicated to all Vietnamese sailors who have once served on the proud decks of the Republic of Vietnam Navy's vessels, and it is created for the younger Vietnamese generation who are curious enough and would like to know who we are, where we came from, and how we...sailed during the Vietnam war. Also a lot of thanks to François Bui for the idea, research, and the unique illustration; on this web page he is the captain!


RVN NAVY

VNN Logo   HQ-17 NGO QUYEN

Origin :
Ex-USS Castle Rock (AVP-35 Castle Rock) WAVP-383 / WHEC-383 Castle Rock SPECIFICATION:


CLASS:Class: Barnegat Class - Small Seaplane Tender
Displacement1,766 t.(lt) 2,750 t.(fl)
Length 311' 8"
Beam 41' 1"
Draft 13' 6"
Speed 18.6 knots
Complement 215
Armament:
- three single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mounts
- four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
- four twin 20mm AA gun mounts
- six .50-cal machine guns
- two depth charge tracks
Propulsion diesel, two shafts, 6,000hp.

HQ17 Ngo Quyen

HISTORY

          Castle Rock: An island off the Alaskan coast.

     Castle Rock (AVP-35) was launched 11 March 1944 by Lake Washington Shipyards, Houghton, Wash.; sponsored by Mrs. R. W. Cooper; and commissioned 8 October 1944, Commander G. S. James, Jr., in command.

Castle Rock stood out of San Diego 18 December 1944 bound for Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok, where she arrived 28 January. Assigned to escort convoys between Saipan, Guam, and Ulithi until 20 March, Castle Rock then took up duties of designed mission, tending seaplanes, at Saipan. In addition to providing the essential home base for seaplanes as they carried out varied air operations including reconnaissance, search, and hunter-killer activities, Castle Rock herself performed local escort duties.

On 28 November 1944, Castle Rock sailed from Saipan for Guam, where she embarked a group assigned to study Japanese defenses on Chichi Jima and Truk. This key preparation for future operations continued until 5 January, when Castle Rock returned to tender operations at Saipan.

Castle Rock left Saipan astern 9 March 1946, sailing for San Francisco where she arrived 27 March. Here she was decommissioned 6 August 1946, and loaned to the Coast Guard 16 September 1948.

Commissioned, USCGC Castle Rock (WAVP-383), 18 December 1948 then Re-designated High Endurance Cutter (WHEC-383). Decommissioned by the Coast Guard, 21 December 1971. Transferred to South Vietnam, renamed HQ-17 NGO QUYEN in the RVN service.

Escaped from the Fall of South Vietnam in 1975 to Subic Bay, Philippines. HQ-17 NGO QUYEN was custody assumed by Philippines in April 1975, renamed RPS FRANCISCO DAGAHOY (PF-10). Decommissioned by Philippine Navy in June 1985, fate unknown.

           HQ-17 Ngo Quyen is the last battle ship of RVN Navy's Inventory. If you like to build any models of those RVN battleship series. Here is the link wher you can find the model kits:

– 1/350 scale PCE 827-960 Class - Patrol Craft Escort Class (for HQ-07 Dong Da II, HQ-12 Ngoc Hoi, HQ-14 Van Kiep II): CLICK ON THIS LINK

– 1/350 scale Admirable Class Minesweeper (for HQ-08 Chi Lang II, HQ-09 Ky Hoa, HQ-10 Nhat Tao, HQ-11 Chi Linh, HQ-13 Ha Hoi):
Item# CSM4-110 Patrol Craft - Ships Model 1/350 CLICK ON THIS LINK

– 1/350 scale Barnegat Class - USS Absecon in 1943 - (HQ-15 Pham Ngu Lao), this model could be also built for the other RVN Barnegat Class ships with some scratch-building (HQ-2 Tran Quang Khai, HQ-3 Tran Nhat Duat, HQ-5 Tran Quoc Toan, HQ-16 Ly Thuong Kiet and HQ-17 Ngo Quyen): CLICK ON THIS LINK

Again thank François B. for all researches, writing, drawing, and these helpful links.





VNN Logo   HQ-16 LY THUONG KIET

Origin :
Ex-USS Bering Strait (AVP-34 Bering Strait)
WAVP-382 / WHEC-382 Bering Strait

SPECIFICATION:


CLASS: Barnegat Class - Small Seaplane Tender
Displacement 1,766 t.(lt) 2,592 t.(fl)
Length 310' 9"
Beam 41' 2"
Draft 13' 6"
Speed 18.2 knots
Complement 367
Armament:
- three single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mounts
- four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
- four twin 20mm AA gun mounts
- six .50-cal machine guns
- two depth charge tracks
Propulsion diesel, two shafts, 6,000hp.

HQ16 Ly Thuong Kiet

HISTORY

     Bering Strait: The strait connecting the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea and separating Russian Asia from North America. The Danish explorer for whom it was named, Vitus Bering, made the first transit of the strait in 1728.

     The small seaplane tender Bering Strait (AVP-34) was laid down on 7 June 1943 at Houghton, Wash., by Lake Washington Shipyards; launched on 15 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. George F. Cornwall; and commissioned at her builder's yard on 19 July 1944, Comdr. Walter D. Innis in command.

After fitting out and conducting her initial trials in Puget Sound, Bering Strait departed Seattle on 10 August 1944. She reached Alameda Naval Air Station, on the 13th. From 17 August to 13 September, she then conducted her shakedown, covering areas such as ship control, communications, general drills, engineering and damage control instruction, gunnery training, as well as antiaircraft and antisubmarine work. Proceeding to Los Angeles upon completion of that training, Bering Strait underwent two weeks of repairs and alterations at Terminal Island Naval Drydocks. Reporting for duty on 2 October, the warship sailed for the Hawaiian Islands the following day.

Bering Strait arrived at Pearl Harbor on 9 October, and on the 13th sailed for Hilo. Arriving there on the 14th, she established a seaplane base at Kuhio Bay and, until 5 November, carried out training with successive detachments of Martin "Mariner" flying boats. She tended six Martin PBM-3Ds from Patrol Bombing Squadron (VPB) 25 from 14 to 19 October and a second detachment of six PBM-3Ds from the same squadron between the 19th and the 29th, after which time she tended six "Mariners" from VPB-26. Concluding those advanced base evolutions on 5 November, the ship sailed for Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, the same day.

Arriving at her destination on the 6th, Bering Strait received orders to organize and train an air-sea rescue task group made up of herself and the seaplane detachment of Rescue Squadron (VH) 2--an assignment that required her to exchange her PBM-3D aviation spare parts allowance for PBM-3R spares. Returning to Pearl Harbor on 23 November, Bering Strait underwent an availability and then loaded the equipment of VH-3, which had been substituted for VH-2. She sailed for the Marshall Islands on 1 December. During the passage to Kwajalein Atoll, the ship served as antisubmarine screen for the seaplane tender Cumberland Sound (AV-17).

After pausing at Kwajalein from 9 to 12 December, Bering Strait returned to sea again with Cumberland Sound and steamed to Eniwetok, arriving there on the 13th to carry out air-sea rescue training, which began after VH-3 arrived from Kaneohe on the 15th. She conducted nine days of training with VH-3 before that squadron transferred to Cumberland Sound on 24 December.

Bering Strait, along with PC-1082 and PC-572, then escorted cargo ship Situla (AK-140) and six merchantmen from Eniwetok to Saipan, departing on 24 December and arriving on the 28th in Garapan Harbor. Shifting the next day to Tanapag Harbor, Guam, Bering Strait received VH-3 on board on the 29th.

On New Years' Day 1945, however, Bering Strait transferred her aviation maintenance unit to VH-3 for temporary duty and sent her aviation officer, aviation storekeepers, all aviation spare parts and three of her boats to the naval air base at Tanapag, so that the organization could be maintained intact. That day, the ship reported to Commander, Marianas Patrol and Escort Force, for temporary operational control for radar picket and air-sea rescue duty. She departed Tanapag harbor on 5 January 1945 to take up her new task.

From 6 to 15 January 1945, Bering Strait operated 10 miles west of Sarigan and Guguan Islands, on radar picket station to warn Saipan of approaching Japanese planes. Returning to Saipan for logistics on the 16th, she embarked a fighter-director officer from a marine aircraft group on the 18th, and sailed later that same day to assume radar picket duties as fighter-director ship in Operation "Michigan" to intercept Japanese planes operating between Iwo Jima and Truk. Returning to Saipan on the 28th for logistics, and to disembark the marine fighter-direction officer, the warship commenced a six days of voyage repairs. On 4 February, she sailed to relieve Fanning (DD-385) on air sea rescue lifeguard station.

At 2300 on 10 February, Bering Strait made contact with a homeward-bound B-29, first by radar and then visually. The ship switched on her lights and stood by for a landing, illuminating the sea and then indicating the wind direction with searchlights. The B-29, "Deacon's Delight," accomplished "an almost perfect ditching," and Bering Strait's motor whaleboat took the entire 12-man crew on board and brought them to the ship. Then, after collecting floating debris and gear, and riddling the "Superfortress" with gunfire in a vain effort to sink it, the ship rammed and sank the hardy bomber.

An hour earlier, Bering Strait had picked up a report that another B-29 ("Homing Bird") had ditched. After completing the "Deacon's Delight" rescue, the ship headed for the scene of "Homing Bird's" crash. Guided to the scene by a "Dumbo," the ship arrived there by 1605 on 11 February and picked up the entire 11-man crew immediately.

Work still remained to be done, however, for soon after winding up the rescue of "Homing Bird's" crew, Bering Strait received orders to rendezvous with the high speed minelayer Robert H. Smith (DM-23), to pick up the crew of a "Superfortress" that had ditched around 2230 on the 10th. The violent landing had claimed the lives of four of the B-29's crew. A patrolling "Dumbo" spotted the men the next morning, dropped survival gear, and covered them until Robert H. Smith picked them up that afternoon. On the morning of 12 February, Bering Strait embarked the seven survivors of the third B-29. Returning to Saipan on 15 February 1945, the ship disembarked the airmen the same day.

On the night of the ship's return to her station, on 19 February, a B-29 had ditched at 2100, 12 miles north of Pagan Island, but broke up and sank upon landing; five men, trapped in the wreckage, had drowned. Unable to extract all of the life rafts (one man had the use of only a partially inflated rubber boat), the crew lay at the mercy of the sea. Directed to the scene by a "Dumbo," Bering Strait sighted the survivors and hove to in their midst. She picked up five, one of whom had been swimming without a life jacket for two hours, and sighted two bodies but could not recover them. Fortunately, the airmen had been spotted in the darkness because of tiny lights pinned to their life jackets, lights that had been "stolen" from the Navy "on personal initiative." Bering Strait disembarked those survivors at Saipan on 21 February, and got underway later the same day to relieve Cummings (DD-363) on station. Returning to Saipan on 3 March, the ship spent the next six days in an availability before setting out to resume her lifeguard work on 9 March.

The following day, Bering Strait established contact with a B-29, nicknamed the "Hopeful Devil," that radioed a distress call during its return from a bombing mission over the Japanese home islands. The "Superfortress"ditched alongside at 1238, and Bering Strait picked up the nine-man crew in short order. Almost immediately, the seaplane tender picked up a position report on another ditched B-29, and steered a course to the rescue. Although the position reports provided the ship proved incorrect because a "Dumbo" pilot mistook Guguan Island for Alamagan, she spotted a "Dumbo" orbiting ten miles southwest of Guguan and altered course to investigate. She picked up the 11-man crew of that ditched B-29 and then shaped a course for lifeguard station.

She remained at sea, 28 miles from Pagan Island, from 11 to 14 March, at which time she relieved sistership Cook Inlet (AVP-36) at another air-sea rescue station. Returning to Saipan for logistics on the 16th, she disembarked the 20 airmen taken on board since the 10th before sailing for Guam. Bering Strait's performance of her rescue function earned her accolades from the Commanding General of the 313th Bombardment Wing who, upon the ship's detachment from lifeguard duties, sent her a message: "Since you have been our guardian angel of the seas you have returned safely to us 50 combat crewmen. Many of them are flying against the enemy again. We are grateful for the splendid work you have done and wish you all the best of luck."

On 18 March, Bering Strait began preparations for Operation "Iceberg," the invasion of Okinawa. Underway the following day, she escorted Hamlin (AV-15) to Saipan and completed the preparations for "Iceberg" by loading VH-3 equipment during the period 20 to 23 March. This work accomplished, she sailed for Kerama Retto on the 23d in company with three large seaplane tenders and three of her sister ships, as Task Group (TG) 51.20. Reaching her destination on 28 March, Bering Strait anchored in the Kerama Retto passage, and TG 51.20 established a seaplane base that day. The next day, VH-3 arrived and flew its first "Dumbo" mission.

On "L-day," 1 April 1945, the invasion of Okinawa commenced. The first "Dumbo" mission of the invasion for VH-3 proved successful, as the squadron commander, Lt. Comdr. W. H. Bonvillian, rescued the three-man crew of a Grumman TBF "Avenger" from Torpedo Squadron (VT) 29. Antiaircraft fire had brought the plane down in a rice paddy, and the three crewmen deemed it prudent to take to their rubber boat and head out to sea where Lt. Comdr. Bonvillian's "Mariner" picked them up.

For the next three months, Bering Strait served as the coordinating control tender at Kerama Retto, not only tending seaplanes but also conducting sonar searches to guard against midget submarine incursions. Planes under her direction carried out 268 missions during April, May and June 1945, rescuing 105 men, who represented 39 different squadrons--26 Navy, ten Marine Corps, two Army Air Force and one Royal Navy. The carrier-based squadrons among that number came from 23 ships, including the British fleet carrier HMS Formidable.

Twice during April 1945, one of her planes was forced down by friendly fire and compelled to taxi back to base. On 23 April, one of her PBMs transferred a severely wounded marine to the tender St. George (AV-16) for medical treatment. A little over a month later, on 24 May, her PBMs rescued a pilot from the waters at the mouth of Ariake Bay, on southern Kyushu. Similar rescues took place on 2 June, when Bering Strait-based PBMs rescued the crew of a crashed Consolidated PB2Y "Coronado" from inside Kagoshima Bay, as well as a pilot from the fleet carrier Ticonderoga (CV-14). Later that month, on 14 June, ship-based "Mariners" rescued pilots under fire from enemy guns at Kikai Shima in the Northern Ryukyus.

Pilots and aircrew proved not the only beneficiaries of Bering Strait's controlled rescue missions; on 27 May 1945, two kamikazes crashed the destroyer Braine (DD-630). One Bering Strait-based PBM rescued ten men from the ship while a second stood by in case the need arose to fly critically hurt sailors to medical treatment. On other occasions, Bering Strait's planes escorted damaged aircraft to safety, or directed ships to the assistance of survivors in the water.

The ship's stay at Kerama Retto likewise proved eventful, as, during that three-month period the ship went to general quarters 154 times. There was one day, 6 June, on which the ship stood to battle stations six times! On 5 May, two of her men suffered injuries when hit by shrapnel from friendly fire bursting too close to the ship during an attack by enemy planes; she herself then fired on an enemy plane attempting to crash the nearby St. George. On 21 June, her guns splashed a Nakajima E4N type 00 "Jake" reconnaissance floatplane. During that same raid, just after one kamikaze had crashed Curtiss (AV-4), a second overflew Bering Strait and headed for Kenneth Whiting (AV-14). Bering Strait took the suicider under fire and splashed it short of its target.

Relieved of her duties as coordinating control tender on 30 June, Bering Strait shifted to Chimu Wan, Okinawa, on 15 July. She maintained four PBMs from VH-3 until 7 August, when she transferred that unit to another tender and assumed duties tending six planes from VH-1. Twice during her first months at Chimu Wan weather compelled her to undertake typhoon evasion, once from 19 to 20 July and again between 1 and 3 August.

Departing Okinawa finally on 26 September 1945, Bering Strait set sail for Japan to support the occupation. Reaching Sasebo soon thereafter, she remained at that port until sistership Cook Inlet relieved her on 30 December, and she sailed for the United States. Proceeding via Pearl Harbor, Bering Strait reached San Francisco on 21 January 1946 and commenced pre-inactivation overhaul. Decommissioned at Alameda Naval Air Station on 21 June 1946, Bering Strait was transferred to the Coast Guard, on loan, on 14 September 1948, and was initially given the designation WAVP-382. Over the next 23 years, the ship operated as a weather ship in the Pacific first based at Seattle, Wash., and, later, at Honolulu. Bering Strait was reclassified a high endurance cutter and redesignated WHEC-382 on 1 May 1966. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 26 September 1966, and she was transferred permanently to the Coast Guard at the same time. In the course of her Coast Guard career, she visited such diverse places as Adak, Alaska; Yokosuka, Japan; Honolulu, Hawaii; French Frigate Shoals and Laysan Island. During the Vietnam War, Bering Strait participated in "Market Time" coastal surveillance operations off South Vietnam.

"Transferred to the South Vietnamese Navy on 1 January 1971, Bering Strait was renamed HQ-16 LY THUONG KIET. She had participated with HQ-10 NHAT TAO in the Paracel Islands Battle between the South Vietnam Navy and the chinese PLAN, opposited to 2 chinese ships T-43 Class Fleet Minesweeper #389 and #396, she was heavily hit by a friendly fire from HQ-5 TRAN BINH TRONG, and badly damaged under fire, inclined 15 degree, she had continued to knock out 2 chinese T-43 Class Minesweeper ships: #389 mostly suffered superfacial damages on hulls, # 396 suffered the most, the main propulsion diesels had blowed out by the fire of RVN HQ-16 LY THUONG KIET and HQ-10 NHAT TAO: 18 Chinese sailors killed, 5 of them were in the main propulsion machinery room because the fire caused the toxic gas which poisoned the sailors. HQ-16 LY THUONG KIET had been escorted by HQ-4 TRAN KHANH DU then with HQ-6 TRAN QUOC TOAN joined in, on a mid-way to RVN Da Nang Naval Base for emergency repair."

After the fall of South Vietnam to the communists in April 1975, the ship fled to Subic Bay, Philippines. Formally acquired by the Philippine government on 5 April 1976, the ship was renamed DIEGO SILANG (PF-9), and served as such until laid up in June 1985.


Bering Strait was awarded three battle stars for her World War II service.




VNN Logo   HQ-15 PHAM NGU LAO

Origin :
Ex-USS Absecon (AVP-23 Absecon)
WAVP-374 / WHEC-374 Absecon

SPECIFICATION:


CLASS: Barnegat Class - Small Seaplane Tender
Displacement USN - 1,766 t.(lt) 2,750 t.(fl) - USCG - 2610t.(fl)
Length 311' 7"
Beam 41'¾"
Draft 13' 1"
Speed 17.3 knots
Complement
USN - 215
USGC (1964) - 10 officers, 3 warrant officers, 138 enlisted
Armament:
USN - one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount, one quad 40mm gun mount, two dual 40mm gun mounts, four dual 20mm gun mounts. USCG - on single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount, six .50 caliber machine guns, two 81 mm mortars, one MK52.3 director, one MK26-4 fire control radar, all ASW equipment removed as per SHIPALT 311-A-258 (1970)
Electronics: Radar: SPS-23, SPS-29A (1964)
Sonar: SQS-1 (1964)
Propulsion Fairbanks-Morse geared diesels, two shafts, 6,080hp

HQ15 Pham Ngu Lao

HISTORY

     Absecon: An inlet north of Atlantic City, N.J.

Absecon (AVP-23) was laid down on 23 July 1941 at Houghton, Wash., by the Lake Washington Shipyard; launched on 8 March 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Moon, Jr., the daughter of Capt. G. E. Davis—who was then the chief of staff to the Commandant of the 13th Naval District—and the wife of Comdr. Robert L. Moon, Jr.; and commissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., on 28 January 1943, Comdr. Robert S. Purvis in command.

Absecon was unique among her Barnegat-class small seaplane tender sisters in that she was the only one to be fitted with a catapult and cranes. Her redesign from the standard configuration resulted from the Navy's need for pilots to qualify for catapult operations in the battleship and cruiser-based aviation units. The snip was converted prior to her commissioning, progress well underway by June of 1942. Absecon—assigned the duty of providing training for catapulting and sled net recovery while underway—completed her fitting out period on 14 February 1943 and commenced her shakedown the following day, her embarked "aviation unit" consisting of one Curtiss SO3C-1 "Seamew" and a pair of Vought OS2U-3 "Kingfishers."

Upon the completion of her shakedown, Absecon departed San Pedro, Calif., on the afternoon of 28 February 1943 and transited the Panama Canal between 7 and 9 March. She conducted daily reconnaissance and antisubmarine flights with her embarked aircraft as she proceeded toward Jacksonville, Fla. At 1335 on 11 March, she exchanged identification with a friendly patrol bomber which informed her of having sighted a ship sinking in the vicinity. Absecon altered course accordingly and proceeded to the scene where, at 1518, she picked up seven survivors from the United Fruit Co. freighter, SS Olancho. Earlier that morning, the ship had been proceeding from Honduras to Tampa, Fla., when she was torpedoed. Postwar accounting revealed her assailant to be U-183.

Absecon reached Jacksonville on the 13th and soon disembarked the seven men from Olancho, Over the ensuing months, from March to September of 1943, the seaplane tender operated out of the Naval Section Base, Mayport, Fla., coordinating observation plane (VOS) pilot training with Operational Training Unit (OTU) No. 1 out of the Naval Air Station (NAS), Jacksonville, qualifying pilots and serving as a target for torpedo runs. Such operations were not without hazard; for, on 16 April 1943, Absecon struck a submerged wreck off Mayport that caused considerable damage to her hull. Following repairs, she resumed her steady pace of training evolutions that lasted into the autumn.

In September 1943, Absecon was shifted to operate from the Naval Section Base at Port Everglades, Fla., as well as from the Coast Guard base at that port. She then carried out her training activities into the winter. One event highlighted her service during this period. She got underway at 0810 on 13 November 1943 for operations as a target ship for torpedo bombers based at NAS, Fort Lauderdale. At 0930, Absecon observed a small craft flying distress signals and, upon closing the range, identified her as SS Franklin Baker, owned by the Eveready Shipping Co. of New York and bound from Baracoa, Cuba, to Miami, Fla., with a cargo of bananas. Seeing Franklin Baker to be "in sinking condition," Absecon passed a towline to the former, which had been adrift, her engines broken down, since noon the day before. However, the towline parted so the seaplane tender took the merchantman alongside; took off the master, Samuel P. Henning, and his crew of six; and rigged two submersible pumps on board the craft before rerigging a towline and getting underway once more at 1033.

Less than an hour later, however, at 1124, it was evident that Franklin Baker could not be saved, so Absecon cut the banana-boat adrift. Two depth charges exploded off Franklin Baker's bow had "no effect, her superstructure still remaining awash; 18 5-inch projectiles likewise failed to yield the desired results— the little banana boat remaining defiantly afloat. Directing the Coast Guard patrol boat, USCGC 60026, to sink the derelict with demolition charges lest Franklin Baker become a menace to navigation, Absecon continued her operations with the Grumman TBF "Avengers" operating out of Fort Lauderdale before returning to the Section Base dock at Port Everglades later that afternoon.

During 1944, Absecon maintained a relentless pace off Port Everglades, conducting daily flight operations. She conducted 1,394 catapult launchings and a corresponding number of recoveries and qualified 211 pilots—thus averaging approximately 116 launches per month with 18 pilots a month qualifying for the operation of cruiser and battleship-based floatplanes such as the SO3C, the OS2U, the Curtiss SOC "Seagull" and the Curtiss SC "Seahawk." Her peak month of operations was November 1944, when she conducted 279 launchings and qualified 58 aviators. In addition to this duty, she also served as a mobile target for torpedo planes operating out of NAS, Fort Lauderdale, and NAS, Miami.
Neither operation was hazard free: on 7 April 1944 one of the ship's OS2U-3's overran the sled being towed alongside, fouling the breast line and tearing away a wingtip float. The plane capsized and, after "complete salt water immersion," was salvaged. Fortunately, there were no casualties. In addition, shallow-running exercise torpedoes struck the ship four times during 1944: the first time on 30 January, the second on 24 June, the third on 19 August, and the last on 31 October 1944. The first flooded two compartments; the third hit caused flooding— controlled by fire and bilge pumps—in the forward engine room, the last caused a small rupture in the shell plating.

Not only did aircraft capsizings and torpedo hits make life interesting for Absecon's sailors, but that fall a tropical storm added zest. With the evacuation of Port Everglades of shipping in the path of a storm headed in its direction, Absecon departed on 17 October, sending one of her planes to NAS, Banana River, Fla., prior to departure. Mooring at the Naval Frontier Base, Mayport, Fla., on the 18th, she dispatched the remaining two OS2U-3's to NAS, Jacksonville, soon after her arrival and then rode out the hurricane that lashed the vicinity with winds that reached 100 knots. By the 20th, the storm had passed, permitting Absecon to resume her training evolutions.

The year 1945 promised more of the same sort of duty for the unique Barnegat-class ship—including some of the same types of operational accidents, some more serious than others. On 19 February 1945, for example, an exercise torpedo hit the ship aft on the starboard side, below the waterline, and then hit the starboard propeller, damaging two blades. This necessitated a visit to the Charleston (S.C.) Navy Yard, where she arrived at 1258 on the 23d. Absecon soon entered drydock where her damaged screw was replaced. Underway for her home port on 3 May, the ship arrived back at Port Everglades the next day and resumed her active operations schedule.

On five occasions during 1945, aircraft capsized during recovery operations, all except the last, on 4 August 1945, resulting in the salvage of the aircraft involved. On that occasion, the plane, apparently damaged beyond repair, was shelled and sunk. As she had done with Franklin Baker, Absecon again lent a helping hand to mariners in distress; on 6 February 1945, she assisted the fishing boat Chip by taking her in tow and turning her over to the Coast Guard for further assistance.

Absecon based at Port Everglades until mid-July 1945 when she shifted to NAS, Pensacola, Fla., for duty involving training and logistical support of the VO/VCS (observation/cruiser-based observation aircraft) operations there. Absecon carried out this training through V-J Day (15 August 1945) and into September of 1945. During those nine months, she conducted 1,839 catapult launchings, an average of 204 per month, and qualified 274 pilots. Her peak "production" of pilots occurred in March 1945 when she qualified 45, and her peak number of launchings occurred during August when she conducted 340.

As the helicopter began to supplant cruiser- and battleship-based seaplanes, the need for qualifying pilots of the latter diminished accordingly. After a period as a training ship out of NAS, Pensacola, Absecon was placed out of commission, in reserve, on 19 March 1947, and laid up with the Texas Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Orange, Tex.

Transferred to the United States Coast Guard on 5 January 1949, Absecon became USCGC Absecon (WAVP-374) and operated as such through the 1960s. Operating primarily in the Atlantic out of Norfolk, Va., the erstwhile seaplane tender served as a weather ship on ocean stations, before the advent of improved storm-tracking radars obviated such operations. During the 1950s, she frequently visited Argentia, Newfoundland, and St. George Harbor, Bermuda, between stints on patrol on the high seas in the north and central Atlantic and periods of regular upkeep at Norfolk.
v On 21 September 1957, Absecon, on her ocean station in the central Atlantic, picked up a distress call from the West German four-masted steel bark Pamir. The square-rigger, homeward bound from Argentina with a cargo of barley and with 86 men (52 teen-aged cadets among them) on board, had run into Hurricane "Carrie" and been battered severely by the vicious storm, ultimately sinking in the tempest. Absecon altered course immediately and stood toward Pamir's last position. Arriving on the scene the following day, the Coast Guard cutter immediately began sweeping the stormy sea for signs of life, aided by Portuguese and American Air Force planes from the Azores and Navy planes from Bermuda. About 50 ships, representing 13 nations, searched for one week. Ultimately, SS Saxon rescued five men,three days after Pamir had sunk; Absecon found the square-rigger's last survivor, 22-year old Gunter Hasselbach, the following day. Seventy-two men had perished.

In 1958, the ship visited Hamburg, Germany (20 to 22 June), Amsterdam, Holland (23 to 28 June), Dublin, Ireland (3 to 7 July), and Lisbon, Portugal (13 to 17 July), before returning, via Bermuda, to the east coast of the United States.

Subsequently classed as a high endurance cutter, WHEC-374, Absecon was transferred to the South Vietnamese Navy on 15 July 1972 and was simultaneously renamed HQ-15 PHAM NGU LAO. She was apparently unable to escape from South Vietnamese waters when that country fell to communist domination in the spring of 1975.

Renamed HQ-1 PHAM NGU LAO in the Vietnam Socialist Republic's Navy (PRVSN). Refitted with two SS-N-2 SSM and Soviet light guns. Reported still in service as late as 2000.




VNN Logo   HQ-14 VAN KIEP II

Origin :
Ex-USS Amherst (EPCE[R] 853)
Ex-PCE(R)-853

SPECIFICATION:


CLASS: PCE(R)-848 Class - Patrol Craft Escort (Rescue)
Displacement 903 t.(lt)
Length 184' 6"
Beam 33' 1"
Draft 9' 5"
Speed 15.7 knots
Complement 99
Armament: one dual purpose 3"/50 gun mount, two single 40mm gun mounts, four 20mm mounts, four dcp, one Hedge Hog and two dct; Propulsion two 2,000bhp General Motors diesel engines (12-567A starboard engine and 12-567B port engine), Falk single reduction gear, two shafts.

HQ14 Van Kiep

HISTORY

      Amherst : Towns in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia, and a county in Virginia.

    PCER-853 - was laid down on 16 November 1943 at Chicago, Ill., by Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Co.; launched on 18 March 1944; and commissioned at New Orleans on 16 June 1944, Lt. W. W. Boynton in command.

Following shakedown in waters off Miami and Key West, Fla., PCER-853 proceeded via the Panama Canal to Hawaii. The ship reached Pearl Harbor on 14 September; was replenished there; and, shortly thereafter, got underway to join the 7th Fleet in the Admiralty Islands. En route, she stopped at Funafuti, Ellice Islands; and at Finschhafen, New Guinea, before anchoring in Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island. On 12 October, PCER-853 got underway in the screen for the ships carrying invasion forces to Leyte.

She remained off Leyte through 22 November, screening various ships and providing rescue and firefighting services. Throughout this time, the Allied forces, including PCER-853, fought off numerous Japanese air attacks. At the risk of endangering her own safety, the patrol rescue escort many times pulled alongside burning ships to save sailors' lives; she also made trips to landing beaches to recover wounded for evacuation.

Following a brief replenishment trip to Seeadler Harbor, the small ship returned to the Philippines on 18 December to support the landing on Luzon at Lingayen scheduled for early 1945. During the fighting, besides recovering casualties, PCER-853 served in Lingayen Gulf as an antisubmarine picket ship. After screening a convoy from Lingayen Gulf to Leyte Gulf, she left the Philippine theater on 6 February 1945, bound for Ulithi.

Repairs to her generators were made at that atoll. On 21 March, the ship sailed with a transport group bound for the assault on the Ryukyus. They reached the Kerama Retto area in late March, and PCER-853 soon began her job of receiving, treating, and transferring wounded. Her workload greatly increased due to the intensity of the fighting ashore on Okinawa and the success of the kamikaze attacks against ships in Ryukyuan waters. She operated from Kerama Retto through 30 June, carrying, shuttling wounded from Okinawa and its surrounding waters back to safety.

On that day, the ship joined a convoy bound, via Saipan, for Hawaii and reached Oahu on 19 July. Shortly after arriving at Pearl Harbor, PCER-853 entered the Navy yard there and was still undergoing overhaul when Japan capitulated. In September, the vessel steamed to the east coast of the United States and was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Green Cove Springs, Fla.

In December 1947, PCER-853 was ordered to Philadelphia to serve as a training vessel for Naval Reserve personnel in the 4th Naval District. The ship was placed back in active status on 28 November 1950 and carried out training duty at Philadelphia for the next 10 years. On 15 February 1956, the ship was renamed the Amherst (PCER-853).

The vessel got underway on 24 April 1960 to steam to Detroit, Mich. There, she was attached to the 9th Naval District and continued serving as a Naval Reserve training ship. Amherst spent the remainder of her career making training cruises throughout the Great Lakes and visiting various ports in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Canada.

On 6 February 1970, Amherst was placed in an "out of service, special" status for pre-transfer overhaul. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 3 June 1970, and the ship was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam. She served the Vietnamese Navy as HQ-14 VAN KIEP II as that nation fought to avert a communist takeover. When South Vietnam resistance crumbled, HQ-14 VAN KIEP II escaped to the Philippines about 2 May 1975. Transferred to the Philippine Navy and renamed as RPS DATU MARIKUDO (PS-23) in 1975.

PCER-853 won two battle stars for her World War II service.





VNN Logo   HQ-13 HA HOI

Origin :
Ex-USS Prowess (IX 305)
Ex-MSF 280 & Ex-AM-280
SPECIFICATION:


CLASS: Admirable Class Variant Minesweeper
Displacement 945 t.(lt)
Length 184' 6"
Beam 33'
Draft 9'
Speed 14.8 knots
Complement 104
Armament: one 3"/50 cal. dual purpose mount and one twin 40mm gun mount, six single 20mm gun mounts, one depth charge thrower (hedgehogs), four depth charge projectiles (K-guns), two depth charge tracks;
Propulsion two 1,710shp Cooper Bessemer GSB-8 diesel engines, National Supply Co. single reduction gear, two shafts.

HQ13 HA HOI

HISTORY

      Prowess: Valor, and skill.

    Prowess (AM-280) was laid down 15 September 1943 by Gulf Shipbuilding Corp., Chickasaw, Ala.; launched 17 February 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Thomas W. Rubottom; and commissioned 27 September 1944, Lt. Comdr. J. W. Meire in command.

Following shakedown out of Little Creek, Va., Prowess (AM-280) escorted Pontiac (AF-20) from Boston to Bermuda, departing Boston 14 December 1944. Upon returning to Little Creek, she trained minesweeper personnel from 1 January 1945 to 31 August. Departing-Little Creek 3 October, she participated in festivities honoring Admiral Nimitz at Washington, D.C., in early October. After a visit to Wilrnington, Del., she returned to Norfolk.

Prowess entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in December 1945. She was reclassified MSF-280 on 7 February 1955. Assigned a homeport of Buffalo, N.Y., from 1 September 1965 and reclassified IX-305 on 1 March 1966, she has served as a naval reserve training ship from February 1962 into 1970.

Transferred to South Vietnam, 4 June 1970 as HQ-13 HA HOI in the Republic Vietnam Navy service; Struck from the Naval Register in 1970. After the Fall of South Vietnam in 1975, the fate of the HQ-13 HA HOI is unknown, but she apparently never left Vietnam.





VNN Logo   HQ-12 NGOC HOI

Origin :
Ex-USS Brattleboro (EPCE[R] 852)
Ex-PCE(R)-852
SPECIFICATION:


CLASS: PCE(R)-848 Class - Patrol Craft Escort (Rescue)
Displacement 903 t.(lt)
Length 184' 6"
Beam 33' 1"
Draft 9' 5"
Speed 15.7 knots
Complement 99
Armament: one dual purpose 3"/50 gun mount, two single 40mm gun mounts, four 20mm mounts, four dcp, one Hedge Hog and two dct;
Propulsion two 2,000bhp General Motors diesel engines (12-567A starboard engine and 12-567B port engine), Falk single reduction gear, two shafts.

HQ12 Ngoc Hoi

HISTORY

      Brattleboro: A town in Windham County in the southeastern corner of Vermont.

PCER-852 was laid down on 28 October 1943 at Chicago, Ill., by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Co.; launched on 1 March 1944; and commissioned at New Orleans, La., on 26 May 1944, Lt. Henry J. Irwin, USNR, in command.

On 6 and 7 June, PCER-852 made the voyage from New Orleans to Miami, Fla. For the next month, she conducted shakedown and antisubmarine training out of Miami. On 7 July, the warship departed Miami on her way to Bermuda, and arrived at her destination on the 10th. She spent the rest of the month engaged in training and patroling. On 1 August, PCER-852 stood out of Bermuda bound for Norfolk with 26 prisoners of war–sailors from the German submarine U-505, captured in June by a "hunter-killer" group formed around escort carrier Guadalcanal (CVE-60) under the command of Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery.

She headed back to Bermuda on 7 August and operated in the vicinity until 20 August when she shaped a course for the Pacific. Proceeding via the Panama Canal, PCER-852 reached Pearl Harbor on 15 September. Later that month, she moved on to Manus in the Admiralty Islands, one of the staging points for the invasion of the Philippines. On 11 October, the submarine chaser stood out of Manus with Task Group (TG) 79.5, the LST flotilla attached to Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson's Southern Attack Force. Her task organization moved into Leyte Gulf on the morning of 20 October.

PCER-852 anchored some 2,000 yards off the invasion beaches at Dulag in a position to render immediate first aid to casualties. Her first opportunity came at about 1600 that afternoon when a Japanese torpedo bomber scored a hit on Honolulu (CL-48). She and sistership PCER-851 went alongside the stricken cruiser and began removing the wounded. The subchaser's medical staff rendered first aid and then transferred the casualties to a hospital ship for evacuation. The next day, she closed the shore to a distance of about 1,000 yards where she began receiving wounded soldiers from the fighting on Leyte. Over the next month, the ship received and treated about 400 men and then moved them on to the better-equipped hospital ships. In the meantime, her gunners participated in the air defense of the ships in Leyte Gulf and claimed to have splashed an enemy plane on 26 October.

On 23 November, the subchaser took departure from Leyte Gulf to return to Manus for repairs. She arrived at her destination on 29 November. While she underwent repairs in drydock, her crew enjoyed rest and relaxation ashore. On 11 December, PCER 852 set sail as part of the escort for a reinforcement convoy bound for the stubborn campaign still being prosecuted in the Palau Islands. After six days, she was relieved of that escort mission and was assigned another convoy bound for Leyte. The warship and her charges entered San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on 20 December. For about two weeks, she conducted ASW patrols in Leyte Gulf and provided escort services for the forces occupying some of the lesser islands of the Philippines.

PCER-852 steamed out of San Pedro Bay on 4 January 1945 to join the tremendous fleet slated to assault the island of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf. She entered the gulf on the morning of 9 January, S-day for the amphibious operation. The troops went ashore at 0930, however, during the Lingayen attack, the bulk of the casualties she treated came from ships and craft in the gulf subjected to both conventional air attacks and fanatical kamakaze suicide dives. Completing her mission at Lingayen late in January, PCER-852 returned to Leyte, refueled, and put to sea again to escort a convoy to Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines. She arrived at her destination on 6 February and began an availability.

PCER-852 remained at Ulithi through February and most of March repairing and preparing for the last campaign of the war--the invasion of Okinawa. On 27 March, the warship began the voyage to the Ryukyu Islands. After the Army and Marine Corps troops went ashore on 1 April, the campaign split into two distinct battles--the ground war ashore and the aerial onslaught on the invasion fleet. In large measure, PCER-852's rescue and first aid services were directed toward the crews of the stricken ships around Okinawa. Over the next 91 days, the subchaser treated over 200 badly wounded men and rescued in excess of 1,000 survivors of ships that sank. On 30 June, she departed the Ryukyus and then steamed via Saipan to Pearl Harbor. PCER-852 arrived at Oahu on 19 July and began an extended repair period that lasted through the end of the war and into the fall of 1945.

The subchaser stood out of Pearl Harbor on 17 October 1945 and began the long voyage to the Atlantic coast of the United States. She spent the remainder of 1945 with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Green Cove Springs, Fla.--though remaining in commission. Early in 1946, however, the subchaser moved north to Philadelphia where she was converted into an experimental ship to test infrared equipment for the Bureau of Ships. At that time, she was redesignated E-PCER-852. She completed the conversion in May of 1946 and began test work along the Delaware coast in cooperation with Callao (IX-205). In September of 1947, the Bureau of Ships shifted the infrared test program to the Underwater Sound Laboratory at New London, Conn., and E-PCER-852 operated from that base.

For the next 18 years, the ship continued to do experimental work out of New London. By the early 1950's the nature of her test work expanded from infrared gear to include optical communications equipment, sonar apparatus, weather gear, and various other items of hardware. In addition to the Bureau of Ships, she did test work for both the Bureau of Ordnance and the Office of Naval Research. On 15 February 1956, the ship was named Brattleboro. She continued her experimental duties for nearly a decade after receiving her name. During that time, her zone of operations also expanded to include the coastal waters along the southeastern United States and thence into the West Indies. On 1 October 1965, Brattleboro was ordered to Philadelphia to begin inactivation. Decommissioned at Philadelphia and struck from the Navy list on 1 November 1965, Brattleboro was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam on 11 July 1966. She was renamed HQ-12 NGOC HOI in Republic of Vietnam Navy.

In the Fall of South Vietnam in 1975, heavily laden with refugees, HQ-12 NGOC HOI had escaped to Philippines with her crew. Transferred to the Philippine Navy and renamed as RPS MIGUEL MALVAR (PS 19) in 1975. Fate unknown.

Brattleboro earned three battle stars during World War II as PCER 852.





VNN Logo   HQ-11 CHI LINH

Origin :
Ex-USS Serene (MSF 301)
Ex-AM-301

SPECIFICATION:


CLASS: Admirable Class Variant Minesweeper
Displacement 945 t.(lt)
Length 184' 6"
Beam 33'
Draft 9'
Speed 14.8 knots
Complement 104
Armament: one 3"/50 cal. dual purpose mount and one twin 40mm gun mount, six single 20mm gun mounts, one depth charge thrower (hedgehogs), four depth charge projectiles (K-guns), two depth charge tracks;
Propulsion two 1,710shp Cooper Bessemer GSB-8 diesel engines, National Supply Co. single reduction gear, two shafts.

HQ10 Ky Hoa

HISTORY

      Shelter (AM-301) was laid down on 16 August 1943 by Winslow Marine Railway and Shipbuilding Co. Winslow, Wash.; launched on 14 November 1943; sponsored by Miss Patricia Whittenberg, and commissioned on 9 July 1944, Lt. Douglas R. Giddings in command.

Shelter conducted shakedown training at San Pedro and sailed from San Francisco on 21 October as escort unit for a convoy which entered Pear! Harbor on the 30th. After assault minesweeping exercises off Maui she departed Pearl Harbor on 5 January with an amphibious assault force that arrived off Iwo Jima on 16 February 1945. She made pre-invasion sweeps with Mine Division 36 until troops stormed ashore on the 19th, remaining on patrol and screening station until 28 February; then helped guard an amphibious group to Saipan before proceeding to Ulithi, Western Caroline Islands, arriving on 9 March for logistics and preparations for the coming Okinawa campaign.

On 19 March 1945, Shelter departed Ulithi with Mine Group 2 for exploratory sweeps in the Kerama Retto area, Okinawa, from 26 March until the initial invasion landings on 1 April. She made assault sweeps at Ie Shima on 8 and 14 April, served on antisubmarine patrol, and departed on 4 May for Ulithi, thence to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands. Here, she joined a convoy which reached Okinawa on the 29th. The following three weeks were largely taken up with sweeping of minefields off Myako Jima in the East China Sea. She stood out of Buckner Bay on 8 July 1945 as escort unit for LST Group 45 which entered San Pedro Bay on 13 July, and departed Leyte Gulf on 19 August with a convoy that reached Okinawa on the 24th. Six days later, she sailed with a minesweeping task unit that swept the Arcadia minefields in the Yellow Sea in preparation for the landing of occupation forces on the Korean peninsula by the Ninth Fleet on 7 September 1945. She then proceeded to the western coast of Kyushu Japan, for minesweeping in approaches to Nagasaki and Sasebo, clearing 22 moored mines and obstructions from 9 to 16 September 1945.

Sheller departed Nagasaki on 26 September 1945 for repairs at Sasebo, then spent 11 to 17 October sweeping 83 Japanese mines in Tsushima Strait. She repeated this operation 1 to 12 November, sweeping 69 more mines; then became reference ship for a unit of three Japanese Coastal Defense ships sweeping shallow waters southeast of Tsushima until 16 November 1945. She joined Mine Squadron Twelve on 27 November acting as reference ship until completion of sweeping operations in Tsushima Strait on 4 December 1945. She departed Wakayama, Japan, for home on 11 December touching Eniwetok, Pearl Harbor, and San Diego on her way to Galveston, Texas, arriving on 3 February 1946. She shifted to Orange, Texas on 5 April, was decommissioned there on 7 June l946, and placed in the Texas Group, United States Atlantic Reserve Fleet. While in reserve status, on 7 February 1955, her hull classification was changed from AM-301 to MSF-301.

Shelter remained in reserve until 15 July 1963 when she commenced conversion to a patrol and escort craft in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She was struck from the Navy list on 1 August 1963 and was transferred on loan to the government of South Vietnam on 24 January 1964, under terms of the Military Assistance Program. Renamed as HQ-11 CHI LINH in the RVN service. She had ordered to join the HQ-10 NHAT TAO (Ex-USS Serene AM-300) in the Paracel Islands Battle in January 1974 but too late, HQ-10 was sunk and the battle had ended, she returned to Da Nang Naval Base after sailing a mid-way to Paracel Islands.

In the Fall of South Vietnam in 1975, heavily laden with refugees, she had escaped to Philippines. Transferred to the Philippine Navy and renamed as DATU TUPAS (PS 18) in 1975. Fate unknown.

Shelter received six battle stars for service in World War II.


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