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VIETNAM
AIRCRAFT SPECIFICATIONS VIETNAM AVIATION  |  AVIATION DIARIES
MECHANICAL MULE  |  COL JOE BELLINO  |  J.D. CALHOUN JOHN DODD  |  PHILLIP C. BROWN
458TH PBR DE LONG PIER INTERCOASTAL OPS  |  PORTSRIVERS AND CANALS  |  SK-5
VC BIKE TET OFFENSIVE 

PORTS - VIETNAM

  

DEVELOPMENT OF THE PORTS:

   Before the buildup of US combat forces in 1965, Saigon was the only significant deep draft port in Vietnam.  Cam Ranh Bay had a small pier constructed in 1964 that could berth two vessels.

 1ST Log Command -- leaning outhouse patch The 1st Logistical Command was responsible initial construction planning for Army requirements in Vietnam, including the development of port facilities.  They did not have the luxury of constructing terminals, depots and other port facilities prior to the arrival of the first combat units.  They had to offload units, their equipment and supplies by landing craft across bare beaches. 

   1st Logistics Command established terminals at Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay, Qui Nhon and Da Nang to handle the tremendous influx of men and materiel.   The plan was to develop Siagon, Da Nang, and Cam Ranh Bay into major logistical bases, and Qui Nhon, Nha Trans, Phan Rang, Chu Lai, Phu Bai and Vung Tau into minor support bases.

   Barge offloading facilities, ramps for landing craft, and petroleum unloading facilities were all required.

   Since Saigon was also the primary commercial port in Vietnam, 4th Transportation Command developed deep draft ports in the Saigon area at Vung Tau, Cat Lai, Vung Ro and Newport. 

   As the US Army, Vietnam, assumed a greater role in military operations in I Corps Tactical Zone, Army stevedores began to discharge cargo at Dong Ha.  These ports became the funnel point for troops and logistics entering the country.

map of Viet Nam showing disposition

SAIGON:  

   Saigon supported II and IV Corps Tactical Zones with 39,700 combat troops and over 61,000 support troops.  Major logistical and support facilities included deepwater ports at Saigon and Newport, a depot, LST ports at Vung Tau and Can Tho, 2 jet airfields and 8 other airstrips.

port of Saigon

The port of Saigon

 

COL Jack Fuson

Then Colonel Jack Fuson at the port of Saigon.  Fuson retired as a lieutenant general.

 

VUNG TAO:  

   With the added DeLong pier, Vung Tau became a major support base.  Capable of offloacing deepwater and shallow berth vessels, Vung Tau increased the flow of logistics throughout South Vietnam.

air base Vung Tau

The air base at Vung Tau which allowed cargo to be offloaded and flown to needed areas throughout the theater.

De Long pier Vung Tau The De Long pier and rock causeway at Vung Tau.
boating to work

A boat with machinists going to work at the FMS (Floating Machine Shop), 82nd Trans Co, 1966.

J-boat at Red Beach

 A J-boat alongside the warehouse barge.  The barge was beached on Red Beach where landing craft could come in for repairs.

NA TRANG:  

   Twenty miles north of Saigon was Na Trang, which became a major over-the-beach offloading facility.

   Na Trang also used a DeLong pier and was operated by the 24th Trans Battalion, 124th Transportation Command.

The air field side of Na Trang as seen from an approaching helicopter.

Na Trang from the air

dock at Na Trang

The LST dock at Na Trang.

 

LONG BINH:  

   Built next to the expansive depot at Long Binh, the port facility allowed for barge offloading and helped reduce the strain at the port in Saigon.

Long Binh from the air

Aerial view of Long Binh port facility.


CAT LAI:  

   Cat Lai was home to the 11th Transportation Battalion.  It served as an ammunition offloading port along the Dong Nai River southeast of Saigon.

LCM at Cat Lai

An LCM with the 1099th sits docked at Cat Lai.

Liberty ship at Cat Lai

A Liberty ship offloads ammunition at the Cat Lai docks.


DONG HA:  

   The capitol of Quang Tri province, Dong Ha, was a few miles from the DMZ separating North and South Vietnam.  It served as headquarters and a forward base for the 3rd Marine Division.

LCM - JLOTS

LCMs load directly onto trucks
at Dong Ha.

Dong Ha from the air

Aerial view of the base at Dong Ha.


DA NANG:  

   By early 1968, more than 2/3 of the US Navy's strength in Vietnam was in I Corps, supported by Da Nang.  The port supported 7,000 US Air Force personnel, 81,000 marines of the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions and 73 Army battalions.

Da Nang

Da Nang, a large seaport.


CAM RAHN BAY:

   Located 180 miles north of Saigon, was once a desolate beach.  By late 1966, it was the major logistical beach for II Corps.  It included a deepwater port with 10 berths, a depot, LST ports at Na Trang, Phan Rang and Tuy Hoa, 2 jet airfields and 6 other airstrips.

Cam Rahn Bay map

Above, Cam Rahn Bay, circa 1966

 

aerial view of Cam Rahn Bay

Aerial view of Cam Rahn Bay

De Long Pier at Cam Rahn

A completed De Long pier at
Cam Rahn Bay.

 

BDL and LST unload cargo aerial view of the Page

Left, The BDL JOHN U. D. PAGE and an LST unload cargo at one of the LST beaches.  Right, an aerial view of the PAGE.

* * *

TC OB in Cam Rahn

 

NEWPORT:  

   With increased troop movement into Saigon, the deep-draft facilities proved completely inadequate.  A new port was constructed on the Saigon river upstream from the city, and called Newport.

Newport under construction at Saigon

Newport facilities under construction along the Saigon River.

A US Navy ship offloads along the docks of the Newport facility.

unloading a ship

* * *

 

THE TET OFFENSIVE AT NEWPORT

   On 31 January 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army launched a major offensive during the celebration of the Vietnamese lunar new year, called Tet.

   The enemy, which had up to then waged a guerrilla war, launched a major attack against military installations and key cities to close the US lines of communication to the combat units.  Included were the sub-ports of Hue, Dong Ha, DaNang, Qui Nhon and Newport.

aerial view of Newport

   Alerted to a possible attack, COL C. E. McCandless, commander of Newport, had no other troops except stevedores to augment the security forces of the 720th MP Battalion.

   He ordered the stevedores to bring all their combat gear (M14 rifles, flak jackets and steel pots) to the port.  He told the stevedores and MPs to take positions behind the CONEXs facing the south end of the bridge in case the enemy attempted to cross the river.  He parked an Armored Personnel Carrier with a .50 caliber machinegun at the south end of the bridge.

   Just after midnight, the stevedores heard small arms fire from the north side of the bridge where a bunker was manned by ARVN soldiers.  They then saw movement on the middle of the bridge, near the arch.

   The 3rd Battalion, 273rd Viet Cong Regiment took position behind the arch of the bridge and fired their machineguns and mortars on the 'combat' stevedores and security forces..

   Other stevedores from the docks came up about 75 feet behind the stevedores and provided supporting fire to the first line, startling them.  Soldiers on the LCMs and LCUs at the dock also opened fire on the bridge.  The roar of the battle was deafening.  For men trained to load and unload cargo, the battle resembled total chaos.

LCM docs and bridge at Newport

   The battle continued for about 3 hours.  Suddenly a tank arrived and slowly lumbered its way up the south side of the bridge firing machineguns and occasionally firing its cannon.  Several helicopters also flew in firing machineguns and rockets at the bridge.  In another 45 minutes, the battle was over with the Americans as victors.

   When the day shift came in, they were astonished at what had happened.  The night shift climbed into trucks for the ride back to Camp Camelot across the bridge they had defended, and saw the littered spoils of the enemy.

   For the defenders, it had been a long night -- the only night that Newport shut down terminal operations. 

* * *

 

QUI NHON:  

   Qui Nhon was a shallow-draft port that had a beach extension created to allow for LCUs and LCMs to offload cargo.     In February 1966, Qui Nhon was changed from a support role to a logistical base.  This increased the requirements for barge unloading points, so a DeLong pier and two LST ramps were added.    By late 1966, Qui Nhon supported combat operations for 15,100 combat troops and 25,000 combat support troops in II Corps.  Facilities included a deepwater port with 4 berths, a depot, 2 jet airfields, and 5 C-130 capable airfields.

Qui Nhon

Aerial view of Qui Nhon.

Qui Nhon map

Qui Nhon, late 1966.

 

VUNG RO BAY:     

   Vung Ro Bay, north of Cam Ranh Bay, had a small company sized operation (the 344th Trans) with one DeLong pier capable of handling 2 deep-draft vessels and stream discharge operation using barges, LCMs and LARCs.

guys at Vung Rowaiting for chowbacking up

     Three separate beaches were set up at Vung Ro Bay Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Beaches.  Each beach was operated by portions of the 344th Transportation Company, a light amphibious company.

344th Amphib Co

Men of the 344th Trans Co
(Lt Amphib)

 

who wants to ride next? Alpha Beach LOTS opns

Alpha Beach, providing LOTS operations.

 

Bravo Beach

Bravo Beach

busy Bravo Beach

Bravo Beach, particularly busy.

  

Charlie Beach from water

Charlie Beach from the water.

Charlie Beach from hill

Charlie Beach from the hill behind.

 

 

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