This is the Cover Letter that Accompanied the September 1968 Mobile Riverine Force Summary
4 Oct 1968
CONFIDENTIAL (Unclassified upon removal of enclosures)
From: Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam
To: Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet (Code 12)
Subj: U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam Monthly Historical Summary,
September 1968; submission of
Ref: (a) CINCPACFLT ltr FF1-1 5750 ser 1/6925 of 2 October 1967
Encl: (1) Coastal Surveillance Force Summary
(2) River Patrol Force Summary
(3) Riverine Assault Force Summary
(4) Naval Advisory Group Summary
(5) Selected Psychological Operations
(6) USN Statistical Summary
(7) VNN/VNMC Statistical Summary
(8) USN Civic Action Statistical Summary
1. In accordance with reference (a), enclosures (1) through (8) are submitted.
2. The data contained in enclosures (6), (7) and (8) is based on information available this date. Any adjustments to enclosures (6), (7) and (8) will be reflected in September's Historical Supplement.
H. "J" Kerr, JR
COMUSMACV (Hist. Branch, SJS)
Director of Naval History
Riverine Assault Force Summary
Ambushes of the riverine assault craft were all too frequent during the month. On the evening of 6 September Task Unit Starlight landed Army elements on the banks of the Dua Stream. While returning to their night position the boats were ambushed with rocket and automatic weapons fire from the south bank of the stream, 3 miles east of Can Giuoc, wounding 11 Navymen. Six of the wounded required helicopter evacuation. A subsequent search of the area indicated that 10 Viet Cong were involved in the ambush.
While proceeding southward along the Ben Tre River to land 4/47th Infantry Battalion troops for operations in Truc Giang and Giong Trom districts of Kien Hoa Province on 15 September RAD 111 was hit with automatic weapons and rocket fire from the west bank 5 1/2 miles southeast of Ben Tre. At 1110 the fire was returned and suppressed as the assault craft pressed on and landed the troops over the designated beaches 1/2 mile further to the south. Fifteen Navymen were wounded and one monitor damaged in the fight. The infantrymen swept the area but found no Viet Cong. Later in the afternoon, after backloading troops, the same division again was ambushed from the west bank of the river about one mile south of the earlier ambush. In the second ambush return fire was light because of many civilians in the area. The assault craft cleared the ambush area and continued to a new landing site.
Downgraded at 3 year intervals
Declassified after 12 years
RAD 111 was again attacked on the Ben Tre River on the 16th; at 1053 from the east bank 6 miles southeast of Ben Tre, and at 1127 from both banks 2 miles east of Ben Tre. A mortar attack at the junction of the Ben Tre River and the Chei Say Canal accompanied the second attack. Three Navymen were wounded during the day and two ATC's were damaged.
On the next day, 17 September, RAD 111 was fired upon for the fifth time on the Ben Tre River, this time from the south bank one mile east of Ben Tre. Only one recoilless-rifle round was fired at the assault craft and the fire was not returned because it came from a populated area. There were no casualties.
On the same day units of RAD 92 ent to the assistance of GAME WARDEN PBR's on the Ham Luong River. On arrival the assault craft received recoilless-rifle, automatic weapons and small arms fire from the west bank of the river, 3 miles east of Mo Cay. The fire was suppressed. One Navyman was wounded as a result of a "cookoff" on a 40-mm gun.
At 0900 on 22 September RAD 131 was ambushed while landing 6/31st Infantry Division troops on the Ba Rai Stream 3 miles east of Cai Be. The Viet Cong fired automatic weapons and rockets from both banks. Riverine assault craft fired all weapons, including flame, suppressing the enemy fire. Nine Navymen were wounded.
On 24 September at 0825 RAD 111 received three rockets and small arms fire from the south bank of the Ben Tre River near the eastern edge of Ben Tre, while escorting an Army LCU and LCM-8 with supplies for FSPB DAVID
3 miles east of Ben Tre. There were no casualties. After delivering the supplies the craft were returning to the Mobile Riverine Base (MRB) when, at 1305, they were again ambushed from the south bank 2 miles east of Ben Tre by small arms, recoilless rifle and mortar fire. Two Navy and three Armymen were wounded. The assault craft suppressed the fire and proceeded on their way.
At 0140 on the 26th an artillery barge at FSPB DAVID was hit by a water mine, killing two Armymen and wounding eight. One man was missing in connection with the explosion which blew an 8 by 10 foot hole through the deck of the personnel department. The sapper/swimmer capability of the Viet Cong was amply demonstrated by the incident.
Three more ambushes occurred during the month but without serious damage or casualties. Of greater consequence was the partial disabling of USS MERCER (APB39), flagship of CTG 117.2, as a result of her dragging anchor and colliding with USS SATYR (ARL23) about 2300 on 11 September. The ships were located with MRG BRAVO at the junction of the Vam Co and Rap Rivers. As she attempted to pull away from SATYR, the starboard screw of MERCER fouled in the port anchor chain of SATYR and severed the chain. About 45 fathoms of anchor chain with the port anchor still attached, wrapped around the shaft demolishing the screw and seizing the shaft. The anchor and most of the chain was cut free by divers the following day and the remaining three turns of chain were removed on the 13th. Upon removal of the chain it was determined that the shaft was heavily scored, requiring
replacement. On the 14th the flag shifted to USS VERNON COUNTY (LST1161) and MERCER proceeded to Vung Tau, sailing from there on the 16th to Ship Repair Facility, Subic for repairs. Fortunately the employment of 9th Infantry Division assets was such that the temporary loss of MERCER did not have a seriously adverse effect on MRF operations.