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Naval Support Activity Danang in 1965-66

A Story of Naval Operational Logistics in the Vietnam War 1965-1968
by Vice Admiral Edwin Bickford Hooper, USN (Retired)
Naval History Division
Department of the Navy
Washington, D.C., 1972

          There was much to be done before the Naval Support Activity would be ready to take over its duties.  Intensive actions were required of the Service Force headquarters to acquire essential resources and get them deployed to do the job.  Control had to be exercised over the assembly and shipment of materials and equipments which made up the tailored Advanced Base Functional Components (ABFC).  Tugs, lighterage, and a wide variety of craft had to be provided.  Some required reactivation or conversion.

          During World War II, one of the greatest problems was the transition from the amphibious to the resupply phase, a transition complicated by getting the advanced base organization on the scene and functioning.  In this case the transition was eased by designating as the Prospective Commanding Officer of the Naval Support Activity the officer of the "over-the-beach" operations.  On 28 July 1965, Commander Task Group 76.4, then Captain K.P. Huff, USNR, reported to Commander Service Force in this capacity while continuing to carry out his task group responsibilities.  The organization under his command started phasing into the expanded role.  Responsibility for provisions in support of the Marines was taken over from the Headquarters Support Activity Saigon, in September before the Naval Support Activity Danang was fully activated.

          The secret of early success was the use of ships and craft deployed to the scene, as we had to depend almost entirely on afloat means in the early months.  Despite subsequent construction of facilities ashore, the need for afloat capabilities continued as more and more activities were required to meet the forever expanding requirements.  In the fall of 1965, 35 craft of 12 different types were at Danang.  By the summer of 1966 the number had grown to 131 craft of 21 types.  These included a small auxiliary floating drydock and its companion craft; 11 LCM-3 (landing craft, medium); 11 LCM-6s; 29 LCM-8s; 8 large personnel landing craft; 25 LCUs (landing craft, utility); 8 open lighters; a floating crane; 3 large covered lighters; 3 refrigerated covered lighters; a self-propelled fuel oil barge, a floating workshop; a large harbor tug; 5 small harbor tugs; 2 self-propelled water barges; 4 picket boats; 8 skimmers, and four 50-foot utility boats.  Still more would be required later.

          There were three barracks craft (APL), of World War II vintage, each accommodating 680, which first had to be overhauled and reactivated to provide personnel berthing and messing.  After reactivation, APL-5 arrived on 5 October 1965, APL-30 in December 1965, and APL-25 in March 1966.  First one, then two, attack transports (APA) from the Amphibious Task Force of the Seventh Fleet were required to provide these services prior to the arrival of the APLs and the building of barracks ashore.  One APA served as the initial flagship and provided the necessary communications.  Later the headquarters was to be established in the so-called "White Elephant" in downtown Danang on the Tourane River, a building which combined offices and warehouse space.

          Initially a landing ship dock (LSD) acted as mother ship, providing a means of boat and craft repair until the floating drydock and repair barge could be made ready and deployed.  Maintenance support has to be provided Market Time coastal surveillance units, as well as activity craft.  Plans included a small craft repair activity ashore, but when this was finally constructed, many months later, the build-up of craft was such that both ashore and afloat resources were needed.

          Two refrigerated lighters were provided, and these were augmented by a commercial refrigerator ship, chartered by the Military Sea Transportation Service.  The latter was needed until 11 June 1966 when construction ashore in Danang was finally able to provide adequate "reefer" space.

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