Oct 20

The Wonsan Operation, 20 October 1950

Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:01 AM


The great success of the Inchon Invasion in September 1950 led General Douglas A. MacArthur to order a second amphibious assault, targeting Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast. After landing there, Tenth Corps could advance inland, link up with the Eighth Army moving north from Seoul, and hasten the destruction of the North Korean army. Wonsan would also provide UN forces with another logistics support seaport, one closer to the battlefronts than Pusan and with greater handling capacity than tide-encumbered Inchon.

Since the enemy army’s cohesiveness collapsed much more rapidly than expected, by the Wonsan operation’s planned execution date of 20 October 1950, its immediate strategic goals had been overtaken by events. However, the forces landed there proved valuable in the push up North Korea’s east side, and the captured port did fulfill its intended mission.

Wonsan’s greatest value, though, was unintended: it gave the U.S. Navy a valuable reminder of the fruits of neglecting mine countermeasures, that unglamorous side of maritime power that, when it is needed, is needed very badly. Admiral Forrest Sherman, the Chief of Naval Operations at the time, remarked, “when you can’t go where you want to, when you want to, you haven’t got command of the sea.” This experience provoked one of the greatest minesweeper building programs in the Navy’s history, one that produced hundreds of ships to serve not only under the U.S. flag, but under those of many allied nations.

  • Marvin

    some of those 1950’s MSM’s served into the early 1990’s.

    I knew, because I served on them.

    ‘Iron Men, Wooden Ships’

  • Jim Valle

    It’s kind of odd that the Navy didn’t break some of the many WWII era minesweepers out of storage and use them instead of building new ones. Most of the ships in storage were only about six or seven years old in 1950. It seems that every time we send combat ships into confined waters we suddenly discover we need more minesweepers!