March, 11th 1965
Operation Market Time was established after the Vung Ro incident to blockade the vast South Vietnam coastline against North Vietnamese trawlers that could carry several tons of arms and ammunition in their hulls. The ships would maneuver out in the South China Sea, waiting for the cover of darkness to make high-speed runs to the South Vietnam coastline. If successful, the ships would off load their cargoes to waiting Viet Cong or North Vietnamese forces.
The discovery in February 1965, of a 130-foot junk off-loading enemy supplies in Vung Ro Bay brought about the decision to order the Coast Guard patrol vessels to Vietnam. In this particular case, the camouflaged junk had infiltrated with enough arms and supplies to outfit an entire enemy battalion. There were reasons to believe that similar landings were being made at other points along the coast.
Example of a round up
Commander R. L. Schreadley, U. S. Navy, pointed out in “Sea Lords” (Proceedings, August 1970),
“By almost all measurable criteria the task forces (Market Time, Game Warden, and Mobile Riverine) had achieved a high degree of effectiveness (by the fall of 1968). There had been no known attempts to infiltrate large shipments of men or arms into South Vietnam by sea since the Tet offensive earlier in the year. Possibly, small intra-coastal transhipments may still have occurred, but if they did, it was at a high cost to the enemy because of the intensive and well co-ordinated Market Time air and sea patrols. These patrols had forced the enemy to reorient his entire logistics system and to organize and construct networks of infiltration routes in the Demilitarized Zone, in Laos, and in Cambodia.”
In his article “Skimmer Ops” (Proceedings July 1977) Lieutenant J. F. Ebersole, U. S. Coast Guard remarks in the words of one Market Time Swift boat (PCF) skipper,“If we hadn’t done our job so well, they wouldn’t have had to build the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”