Heavy cruiser USS Canberra (CAG 2) fires a Terrier missile during a 1963 exercise. While cruising off Vietnam, the Canberra was the first US Navy vessel to relay operational message via communication satellite, using the Syncom III to reach the Naval Communications Station in Honolulu, 4,000 miles away.
Covert Operation 34A was designed and directed by American officials in Washington and Saigon, to use naval forces to compel Ho Chi Minh to cease his support for the Viet Cong. The U.S. Navy armed the Republic of Vietnam Navy with Norwegian-built fast patrol boats (PTF), trained their Vietnamese crews, and maintained the vessels at Danang in northern South Vietnam. The PTFs bombarded radar stations on the coast of North Vietnam and landed South Vietnamese commandoes to destroy bridges and other military targets. Many of the missions, however, failed for lack of good intelligence about the enemy's key military installations, defensive forces, and operating methods.
The Desoto Patrol employed destroyers in intelligence-gathering missions outside the internationally recognized territorial waters and along the coasts of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and North Vietnam. In early August of 1964, destroyer USS Maddox (DD 731), under the operational control of Captain John J. Herrick, USN, steamed along the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin gathering various types of intelligence. Shortly before, the South Vietnamese 34A PTF force had bombarded targets further to the south of Maddox's patrol area. On the afternoon of 2 August 1964, the Communists dispatched three Soviet-built P-4 motor torpedo boats against Maddox, the first action of the Tonkin Gulf Incident.
Market Time March 1965 - 1972
In Operation Market Time, the U.S. Navy, Vietnam Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard largely shut down the seaborne infiltration effort started by the Communists during the early 1960s. Destroyers, mine warfare ships, Coast Guard cutters, gunboats, patrol craft, shore-based patrol planes, and high-powered coastal radars made it almost impossible for the North Vietnamese to slip one of their munitions-laden, 100-ton supply ships past the Market Time patrol. Allied naval forces destroyed or forced back to North Vietnam all but two of the 50 steel-hulled trawlers that tried to run the blockade between 1965 and 1972.
Game Warden Early 1966 - 1968
Game Warden was an operation involving frequent patrolling of the major rivers of the Mekong Delta -- the Bassac, Co Chien, Mekong, Ham Luong, and My Tho rivers -- for the purpose of preventing enemy infiltration of men and weapons and halting enemy harassment of shipping into Saigon. In addition to PBR river patrols and Search and Destroy missions in areas adjacent to the rivers, minesweepers repeatedly cleared mines on the waterways leading to Saigon.
Sealords October 1968 - 1971
Operation Sealords (Southeast Asia Lake-Ocean-River-Delta Strategy) projected an offensive deep into the Mekong Delta and along the less frequently traveled waterways, harassing VC forces who had been badly damaged in the Tet Offensive. Sealords objectives included the interdiction of Viet Cong infiltration and supply routes from Cambodia, the clearance of select islands, and the pacification of trans-Delta waterways. Riverine force PBR were augmented ATC landing craft with infantry and attack helicopters overhead. By early 1969 Sealords had implemented an effective barrier from the Saigon-Parrots Beak line to South Vietnam's coast on the Gulf of Thailand.
Recommended Books about the Campaigns of the Vietnam War