Untold Story

UNTOLD STORIES section - vnafmamn.com

Vung Ro Banner


           In the early stage of Vietnam war, the communist regime in Hanoi always denied its role in providing logistics and weapons to the Viet Cong (the so called National Liberation Front). All they said was the rise-up and the self-dertermination of the people from the South for a new revolution. Until February16, 1965, a "huge fish" got caught at Vung Ro bay...

Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo
Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo Vung Ro Photo


Paracel map        For years many American analysts had doubted that the Communists were using the sea to supply their forces in the South, but it was not until the Vung Ro event that they gained positive proof of such actions. The U.S. Seventh Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Paul P. "Brick" Blackburn, observed that the Vung Ro find was "proof positive." He and General Westmoreland called for a major U.S.-Vietnamese anti-infiltration patrol operation.

       On 16 February 1965, a U.S. Army officer flying his helicopter along the coast of central South Vietnam suddenly spotted a large, camouflaged vessel perpendicular to the shore. Cargo was being unloaded and stacked on the beach at Vung Ro, an isolated bay on the rocky coast. The pilot immediately radioed his sighting to Lieutenant Commander Harvey P. Rodgers, the Senior Advisor to the South Vietnamese 2nd Coastal District headquartered in Nha Trang, who in turn notified the coastal district commander, Lieutenant Commander Ho Van Ky Thoai dispatched South Vietnamese A-1 Skyraiders to the bay where they capsized and sank the ship. Additional air strikes pummeled the stores on the beach the next day, but not until 1100 the 19th were South Vietnamese escort Chi Lang II, medium landing ship Tien Giang, and submarine chaser Tuy Dong able to overcome command indecision and enemy small arms fire to land their embarked troops and naval commandos.

Paracel map        What the soldiers and naval commandos, the latter accompanied by their U.S. Navy advisor, Lieutenant Franklin W. Anderson, discovered in the wrecked ship and piled up on shore ended a long-running debate among U.S. military and intelligence officials. The allies recovered from the 130-foot North Vietnamese ship and from shore sites 100 tons of Soviet and Chinese-made war material, including 3,500 to 4,000 rifles and submachine guns, 1 million rounds of small arms ammunition, 1,500 grenades, 2,000 mortar (weapon) rounds, and 500 pounds of explosives. The Vung Ro incident lead to the creation of the Market Time coastal surveillance program.

       Operation Market Time was the U.S. Navy effort to stop troops and supplies from flowing by sea from North Vietnam to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was one of four Navy duties begun after the Tonkin Gulf Incident, along with Operation Sea Dragon, Operation Sealords and naval gunfire support. When a trawler was intercepted landing arms and ammunition at Vung Ro Bay in northern Khanh Hoa province on 16 February 1965 it provided the first tangible evidence of the North Vietnamese supply operation. This became known as the Vung Ro Bay Incident. Navy destroyers and United States Coast Guard cutters performed the operation. Also playing a key role in the interdictions were the Navy's patrol gunboats (PG's). The PG was uniquely suited for the job because of it ability to go from standard diesel propulsion to gas turbine (jet engine)propulsion in a matter of a few minutes. The lightweight aluminum and fiberglass ships were not only fast but highly maneuverable because of their "variable pitch" propellers.

(Compiled from various sources)

Communist Ship Communist Ship Communist Ship Communist Ship

Ship silhouet