Archive for the 'Vietnam' Category

May 21

30th Naval Construction Regiment Command History

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 7:45 AM

 

For over 70 years, the men and women of the Naval Construction Force have been giving their all to protect our Nation and serve our armed forces with pride and living up to the slogan…We Build, We Fight. On May 19, 1965 the 30th Naval Construction Regiment was activated at Danang, Vietnam. Let’s take a dive into the history of the 30th Regiment…

Thirtieth Naval Construction Regiment Seabees are an integral part of the Naval Construction Force and provide valuable construction support to Navy and Marine Corps units. The Naval Construction Force is an integrated force of both active and reserve units. 30thNCRpatch

Naval Mobile Construction Battalions are the bulk of the active Pacific Naval Construction Force, under the direct command of the Thirtieth Regiment. Each has about 600 officers and enlisted personnel. Their complement includes Civil Engineer Corps officers, other staff officers, enlisted craftsmen from every construction trade and various fleet support ratings.

There are four active units of the Naval Construction Force serving the Pacific, and an Underwater Construction Team which provides the Pacific Fleet Seabees with unique underwater construction and demolition capabilities. The Thirtieth Naval Construction Regiment provides deployable command and control of operational units.

Pacific-based Naval Construction Force units deploy to Pacific Fleet and Atlantic Fleet forward logistics support bases in order to provide construction support to Navy, Marine Corps and other organizations. Seabees provide needed construction and repair to military operational and community support facilities, as well as disaster relief and construction training to U.S. communities and independent Pacific Island nations.

The main Pacific deployment sites are Okinawa, Japan and Guam. Smaller details operate in Chinhae, Seoul and Pohang, Korea; Sasebo, Iwakuni, Atsugi, and Yokosuka, Japan; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; San Diego, and Lemoore, California; Fallon, Nevada; and Bangor, Washington.

The Thirtieth Naval Construction Regiment was first established in 1944, on Saipan after the invasion of Tinian. The regiment moved to Marianas and was known as the “Airfield Construction” Regiment of the Sixth Naval Construction Brigade.

Elements of different Battalions assigned under the regiment landed with the assault units of the 4th Marines for the invasion of Tinian. The initial invasion tasking was rebuilding a captured Japanese airfield for use by Naval aircraft, construction for roads, water facilities, camp hospitals, tank farms, ship moorings, pipelines, and drainage and sanitation lines.

The construction of North Field from which B-29 bomber strikes were launched against the islands of Japan kept the Regiment battalions busy from November 1944 to May of 1945, and it was inactivated on Tinian, Marianas in October 1945.

Two years later, they were activated in Guam, taking over the duties that had been assigned to the Fifth Naval Construction Brigade.

The regiment was under the administration and operational control of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, and assigned control of Naval Construction Battalion 103 and Construction Battalion Detachments on Peleliu; on Saipan; on Kwajalein; on Midway; and on Johnston Island.

Seabee Dets served at various times on Okinawa; and worked at Sangley Point Naval Air Station and Subic Bay Naval Operating Base in the Philippines.

The Thirtieth Regiment was transferred from Guam, Marianas to Cubi Point, Luzon, Philippine Islands in March of 1952. The regiment absorbed the Philippine Naval Construction regiment whose commanding officer became the commanding officer of the Thirtieth Regiment.

The regiment’s mission was to act as the single director of both naval construction forces and civilian contractor forces in the construction of the U.S. Naval Air Station Cubi Point, a task that lasted five years. During the five-year project, the regiment employed Mobile Construction Battalions TWO, THREE, FIVE, NINE and ELEVEN; Construction Detachments 1802 and 1803; and Detachment A of the Tenth Brigade.

Naval Construction Forces were utilized only during the September – June dry construction season. A large part of the airfield and air station facilities were constructed by contractors; but SEABEES did all the earth moving – over twenty million cubic yards of dirt -Seabee2 constructed many of the stations auxiliary facilities, and assisted in dredging operations for waterfront facilities.

The regiment operated under the military and operational control of Commander, Naval Forces, Philippines and administrative control of the Director, Pacific Division, Bureau of Yards and Docks, until 1955. In 1955, the Tenth Naval Construction Brigade was activated at Pearl Harbor and assumed administrative control of the regiment.

Jumping ahead ten years, On 10 May 1965, the Thirtieth Naval Construction Regiment was activated at Da Nang, republic of Vietnam (RVN), under the Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U. S. Pacific Fleet.

Its principle mission was to exercise operation control over mobile construction battalions deployed to Vietnam. It maintained liaisons with other military commands, assigned construction projects to SEABEE units, and monitored performance. On 1 June 1966, the Thirtieth Regiment was assigned to report to the newly established Third Naval Construction Brigade in Saigon. December of 1969, having completed most SEABEE construction projects in Vietnam, the Thirtieth Regiment was re-deployed to Okinawa.

The Thirtieth Naval Construction Regiment, headquartered on Okinawa, exercised command over all SEABEE battalions in the western Pacific Ocean area outside of Vietnam. It also directed the activities of SEABEE teams deployed to the western Pacific. In September of 1973, the headquarters of the Thirtieth NCR was moved to its birthplace of Guam, Marianas. From Guam, the Thirtieth directed the activities of the mobile construction battalions that built the major air and naval base at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, between 1971 and 1982. On 15 August 1984, the Thirtieth NCR was disestablished on Guam.

The Thirtieth NCR was reactivated in July 1982 with headquarters at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Overseas tasking in the Pacific arena included work in our two mainbody sites of Guam and Okinawa as well as detachment sites in Diego Garcia, Adak, Korea, Hawaii, Sasebo, Iwakuni, Yokosuka, Fuji, Atsugi, and the stateside tasking in Southern California. In addition to the normal active duty battalion contribution, reserve battalions contributed 45,000 mandays of support construction effort into CINPACFLT bases, USMC activities and Naval Reserve Centers.

The Thirtieth NCR, NMCB ONE, NMCB FORTY, and ACB ONE completed tasking in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope in 1993. Primary tasking was to provide vertical construction support to U.S. and Coalition Forces, who would establish base camps at each of the humanitarian relief sites.

Repair and improvement of the main supply routes was another big part of our effort. The largest project was at the Baidoa Airstrip, which deteriorated as C-130 relief flights increased in the early part of the operation. ACB ONE provided construction support and fuel and water offload service at the port of Mogadishu.

Today, more than 2,700 active duty and 5,700 reserve officers, men and women are assigned to the Pacific Fleet Seabees. Construction tasks in the Pacific range from renovating living quarters, ports and airfields, to constructing major operational training and support facilities.

Disaster relief and helping others help themselves have always been part of the Seabee tradition. Seabees provide relief after natural disasters, which includes providing temporary berthing and utilities, cleaning debris, restoring communication systems, repairs to damaged homes, buildings and base structures.

Pacific Fleet Seabees were involved in disaster recovery following a major earthquake and typhoons on Guam, participated in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The “Can Do” spirit of the Seabees has a long and gallant history. The Seabees of today uphold that legacy and continue to be the military construction force of choice.  

For more historyon Navy Seabee units visit the Naval History and Heritage Command website: http://www.history.navy.mil/museums/seabee/unithistoricalinformation.htm

Seabee1

 
Feb 7

February 6, 1973: Navy Task Force 78 Begins Operation End Sweep

Thursday, February 7, 2013 9:19 AM
A Marine Sea Stallion helicopter with a magnetic orange pipe in tow sweeps the Bay in Hon Gay, North Vietnam during Operation End Sweep.

A Marine Sea Stallion helicopter with a magnetic orange pipe in tow sweeps the Bay in Hon Gay, North Vietnam during Operation End Sweep.

This article was originally published in the March 1974 issue of Proceedings magazine by Rear Admiral Brian McCauley, U. S. Navy

Western strategists of every stripe had grown hoarse calling for the mining of Haiphong Harbor and, at last, it was done. Now, with the ceasefire signed, the mines had to be retrieved or destroyed and, as surface ships of Task Force 58 trailed a sweeping heli­copter into Haiphong on 17 June 1973, the end of “End Sweep”—a tedious, lengthy, and totally unglamorous job—was in sight. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 16

Reactivation of Hospital Ship Repose

Thursday, June 16, 2011 1:00 AM

June, 16th 1965

The Navy Department schedules reactivation of hospital ship Repose (AH-16). 1st hospital ship activated for service during the Vietnam Conflict.

Below is an article from Proceedings March, 1946 called “The Function of a Hospital Ship” written by Captain Howard K. Gray (M.C.), U.S. Naval Reserve.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 11

Operation Market Time Begins in Vietnam

Friday, March 11, 2011 1:38 AM

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.”

Swift boat

 
Nov 24

Political Infighter: The Story of Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer, USN

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 12:01 AM

Thomas Moorer stands out as one of the few senior American military leaders who fought hard with the political establishment over the conduct of the Vietnam War. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from July 1970 to July 1970, Moorer constantly pushed for the authority to strike targets in the Hanoi area with air power, and

mine Haiphong harbor. President Nixon finally agreed to Moorer’s proposals in the spring of 1972, and the war ended eight months later on terms acceptable to the United States. A hardliner and reactionary to some critics of the war, Moorer is seen as patriot and a hero by many veterans—someone who, in the words of Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, “always put his country’s interest before anything else.”

Born in Mount Willing Alabama in 1912, Moorer graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933, completed aviator training in 1936, and then flew a variety of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, and patrol planes. He also served on the carriers Langley (AV 3), Lexington (CV 16), and Enterprise (CV 6).

Early in World War II, Japanese fighters attacked his PBY-5 patrol plane during a reconnaissance mission in the Southwest Pacific. Although wounded in the thigh, Moorer landed his aircraft in the water and got his crew of seven safely into a life raft. A Philippine merchant ship soon picked the group up but was attacked by Japanese aircraft that same day. One of Moorer’s crew died in that attack, but Moorer and the other survivors and many of the ship’s crew managed to escape from the vessel in a lifeboat and row to a nearby island. For his gallantry that day, the Navy awarded Moorer a Silver Star. He later received a Distinguished Flying Cross for flying supplies into and evacuating wounded from Timor Island in October 1942.

After the war, Commander Moorer continued to serve in both aviation and staff assignments and was promoted to rear admiral in 1957. As a junior flag officer, Moorer worked as a strategic planner for the Chief of Naval Operations. He commanded Carrier Division 6 for 17 months in 1959 and 1960. In 1962, Moorer received his third star and assumed command of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Two years later, the Navy promoted him to full admiral and appointed him Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In that position, he commanded U.S. Navy forces in the Pacific during the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident and subsequent retaliatory strikes against North Vietnam. Moorer took command of the Atlantic Fleet the following year, thus becoming the first officer in the Navy’s history to lead both fleets.

Vietnam once again became a major focus for Moorer when President Johnson appointed him as Chief of Naval Operations in June 1967. Privately, Moorer opposed the land war in Vietnam “for the simple reason that we cannot afford to trade a high school graduate” for a North Vietnamese peasant. Once committed to the endeavor, however, he argued that the United States should focus its efforts on the source of Communist aggression in the region: North Vietnam. Moorer advocated bombing Hanoi, the enemy’s center of gravity, and mining North Vietnam’s most important port facility, Haiphong Harbor. Moorer, in short, rejected the idea of limited war and containment, instead favoring a decisive application of force, and with it, the possibility of compelling North Vietnam to end its aggression in South Vietnam.

His arguments fell upon deaf ears in the White House, and over time, frustration set in. President Johnson’s bombing halt following the 1968 Communist Tet Offensive and then his failure to retaliate against North Korea following the seizure of the technical research ship Pueblo (AGER 2) greatly concerned Admiral Moorer, who was afraid that America was losing global credibility. He also worried about the Navy’s aging ships and infrastructure. In January 1969, he testified to Congress that 58 percent of the fleet was at least 20 years old, while only 1 percent of Soviet navy ships were the same age. Finally, he deeply disagreed with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s habit of “meddling” in the selection and assignment of flag officers, which, Moorer argued was the purview of the Chief of Naval Operations.

On 2 July 1970, President Nixon appointed Admiral Moorer as the seventh Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Moorer perceived Nixon as a kindred spirit, someone willing to make hard choices and take significant risks to extricate America from Vietnam. Other members of the administration, however, often blocked his efforts to liberalize the rules of engagement and resume the bombing campaign against North Vietnam. In an attempt to counter these opponents and gain an upper hand with the new president, Moorer encouraged Charles Radford, a young yeoman working for the National Security Council, to make copies of pertinent White House policy documents for him. When President Nixon found out about Radford’s “spying” in December 1971, he sent Attorney General John Mitchell over to the Pentagon to let Moorer know that “we had the goods” on him. Nixon, however, retained Moorer as chairman because he valued him as a fellow hardliner and a vital counterweight against administration doves, especially Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird.

The Communist Easter Offensive of 1972 finally gave Nixon the justification he needed to relax bombing restrictions and turn up the heat against North Vietnam. One of the first moves he made was to order the mining of Haiphong harbor, an idea that Moorer and others in the Navy had been advocating since the early 1960s. He also initiated the Linebacker bombing raids against North Vietnam. Both operations helped convince Hanoi to agree with a peace settlement acceptable to the United States.

In addition to helping settle the Vietnam conflict, Moorer oversaw the transition of the U.S. armed services from a conscript based military to an all-volunteer force. He also managed deep cuts in the defense budget. While he did not always prevail in Washington’s bureaucratic battles, Moorer managed the services with great strength and confidence during a deeply divided period in our nation’s history. Appointed to a second term as JCS Chairman by President Nixon, Admiral Moorer retired in July 1974. He died on 5 February 2004.

 
Nov 18

USS Kirk – (FF 1087) The Lucky Few

Thursday, November 18, 2010 3:08 PM

Now Showing on NavyTV: – the story of the USS Kirk.

In late April and early May of 1975, the destroyer escort USS Kirk became a haven for refugees fleeing South Vietnam. Kirk‘s officers and enlisted personnel–trained as warriors–instantly transformed their man-of-war into a humanitarian assistance ship. Desperation and anguish gave way to reassurance as crew members fed their unexpected guests, dispensed medical care, diapered infants and provided hope to a dispirited people.

A story of courage, of compassion and hope.

 
Nov 16

USS Kirk Saigon Evacuation Documentary Premiers at Smithsonian Institute

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 12:36 PM

From NHHC Public Affairs Officer, Lt. Cmdr. John M. Daniels, USN:

Washington, DC — The Navy premiered “The Lucky Few” at the Smithsonian Institution’s Baird Auditorium Nov. 11.

The documentary featured a little-known rescue operation in the tumultuous days following the fall of Saigon.

In late April, 1975 panic and hysteria ruled the streets of Saigon as North Vietnamese soldiers surrounded the capital city. Americans and South Vietnamese sought escape and refuge any way they could.

Produced by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, “The Lucky Few,” chronicles one part of this story. The documentary is about USS Kirk (DE-1087) and its crew of 260 who played an unexpected, but considerable role in Operation Frequent Wind – the evacuation of personnel from Saigon.

For most, the images of the end of the Vietnam War came from the nightly news. Television stations showed the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy as Marine helicopters landed on the roof. But there was another story that didn’t get the same attention—the rescue of more than 30,000 refugees who found other ways to escape the frenzy. USS Kirk played a pivotal role by first rescuing, then escorting South Vietnamese military and civilians to freedom and a new life.

As Frequent Wind began, U.S. helicopters loaded with evacuees began heading out to sea, where a 7th Fleet task force awaited them. Just as suddenly though, hoards of unknown contacts began appearing on the ships’ radar screens. South Vietnamese army and Air Force Hueys, packed with refugees were following the American aircraft out to sea.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 15

Battle of Rach Ba Rai Creek, 15-16 September 1967

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:01 AM

On 15 September 1967, River assault boats of the Mobile Riverine Force (TF-117) fought one of their bloodiest engagements of the year against entrenched Viet Cong (VC) forces along the Rach Ba Rai Creek in the Dinh Tuong Province, Vietnam. On this day, a naval convoy transporting elements of the 9th U.S. Army Division was ambushed from both sides of the stream by Viet Cong in fortified bunkers. As recoilless rifle rounds and rockets slammed into minesweepers, monitors, and Armored Troop Carriers (ATC’s), Lieutenant Commander Francis E. “Dusty” Rhodes, the commander of the convoy’s 23 assault craft, issued a terse order by radio: “Fire all weapons.” Dozens of Navy guns responded, some at point blank range.

As the line of boats moved deeper into the ambush, the intensity of the fight grew. Some boats slowed while others sped up, but all poured fire from every operable gun. As fast as they could, the gunners fired, reloaded, and fired again. With only sporadic breaks, the battle continued. Round after round struck both troop carriers and monitors. Three minutes after the fight started monitor 111-2 took two rocket propelled grenade rounds. The boat captain managed to beach the monitor while crewmen worked frantically to repair the damage. The job done quickly, the 111-2 lunged again into midstream.

Around this same time, the command and communications boat took two anti-tank rockets on the port 40-mm. gun mount. The rounds caused no major damage, but a few minutes later, the command boat took another hit. This round knocked Commander Rhodes unconscious, but a few seconds later he was back on his feet, ordering his units to regroup and return downstream out of the enemy’s fortified area. After evacuating casualties and reassigning personnel so that all boats were manned, Lieutenant Commander Rhodes again took his task group up the river and was subjected once more to heavy enemy fire. Hard hit for a second time by a large number of casualties, he nevertheless successfully landed embarked army units ashore in the assigned objective area, and set up a naval blockade of the river. When the battle finally ended the next day, U.S. Army troops tallied 213 Viet Cong killed in action, 600 bunkers destroyed, and a large quantity munitions captured. Total U.S. losses stood at 7 killed and 123 wounded, and Navy losses included three dead and 66 wounded—the largest number of combat casualties suffered by the Navy to date in the Vietnam War. For his leadership that day, Rhodes received the Navy Cross.

 
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