PORTS - VIETNAM
DEVELOPMENT OF THE
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 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.
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.
offloading facilities, ramps for landing craft, and
petroleum unloading facilities were all required.
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.
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.
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
The port of Saigon
Then Colonel Jack Fuson at the port of
Saigon. Fuson retired as a lieutenant
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.
The air base at Vung Tau which allowed
cargo to be offloaded and flown to
needed areas throughout the theater.
The De Long pier and rock causeway at
boat with machinists going to work at
the FMS (Floating Machine Shop), 82nd
Trans Co, 1966.
J-boat alongside the warehouse barge.
The barge was beached on Red Beach where
landing craft could come in for repairs.
miles north of Saigon was Na Trang, which became a
major over-the-beach offloading facility.
Trang also used a DeLong pier and was operated by
the 24th Trans Battalion, 124th Transportation
The air field side of Na Trang as seen
from an approaching helicopter.
The LST dock at Na Trang.
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.
Aerial view of Long Binh port facility.
Lai was home to the 11th Transportation Battalion.
It served as an ammunition offloading port along the
Dong Nai River southeast of Saigon.
LCM with the 1099th sits
docked at Cat Lai.
Liberty ship offloads ammunition at the
Cat Lai docks.
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.
LCMs load directly onto trucks
at Dong Ha.
Aerial view of the base at Dong Ha.
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.
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.
Above, Cam Rahn Bay, circa 1966
Aerial view of Cam Rahn Bay
completed De Long pier at
Cam Rahn Bay.
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.
* * *
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 facilities under construction
along the Saigon River.
US Navy ship offloads along the docks of
the Newport facility.
* * *
THE TET OFFENSIVE AT
31 January 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese
Army launched a major offensive during the
celebration of the Vietnamese lunar new year, called
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
the defenders, it had been a long night -- the only
night that Newport shut down terminal operations.
* * *
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.
Aerial view of Qui Nhon.
Qui Nhon, late 1966.
VUNG RO BAY:
Ro Bay, south 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
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.
Men of the 344th Trans Co
Alpha Beach, providing LOTS operations.
Bravo Beach, particularly busy.
Charlie Beach from the water.
Charlie Beach from the hill behind.