[We are compiling material related to the service of Army Transportation Units during the Vietnam War. The major command structure used during that period is presented below with a separate page for each major unit. Any additions, contributions or corrections that you could make would be appreciated . Personal stories and pictures are especially welcome. Transportation units attached to Divisions and MACV are also part of our history. Please email Ralph Grambo if you think you can provide interesting items.]
|ATAV WEBPAGE RESOURCES|
|Return to ATAV Main Page||Watercraft Classification||Maps||Annotated Bibliography||Boat, Terminal & Truck Company Types|
|Unit Histories||Company Number Table||Detachment Number Table||ATAV Member Email Roster||List of Army Boats in Vietnam|
|VC Sappers and Rocket Attack Item from Wayne Ferguson||Small Ships, Heavy Boats and the Perils of the Long Tau Ship Channel from Peter Bayliss|
|The GYPSY BANDITS move north to Quang Tri from Bill Hampton||Small Tug Ambushed while Towing Ammo Barges on the Dong Nai from Rod Mitchell|
|Small Tug ST2110 from Vinh Long Hit by Rocket in Attack at Dong Tam from Scott Higginbotham||Detailed Map of Saigon Commercial Port Area from MM1 to Fish Market from Peter Bayliss|
|Adjutants Report on 4TC activities for entire years 1968-1969||Cat Lai and the Pineapples from Buck Hartman|
|TC Support of Riverine Operations|
|11th Transportation Battalion||71st Transportation Battalion||159th Transportation Battalion||Vung Tau/Delta Transportation Battalion (Provisional)|
Transportation Companies in Vietnam, excerpted from Shelby Stanton, Vietnam Order of Battle
|This table shows information on the transportation companies located in the 4TC area. It shows their assignment to transportation battalions in 1968. Some companies were moved and reassigned several times. The data comes from Shelby Stanton's Order of Battle and information contributed by ATAV members.|
|Can't Find Your Company? Check the Crossreference Table||Unit citations awarded by the U.S. cover specific time periods which may be found in DA Pamphlet 672-3. Many units were awarded multiple citations.|
|Looking for a Detachment? Check theDetachment Table|
|159th Transportation Battalion|
|5th Trans||Heavy Boat||67-72||Vung Tau|
|31st Trans||Medium Boat||68-69||Dong Tam|
|124th Trans||Terminal Service||65-71||Cat Lai|
|231st Trans||Medium Boat||68-69||Vung Tau|
|329th Trans||Heavy Boat||68-72||Vung Tau
Transferred to 5TC
|551st Trans||Terminal Service||66-69||Long Binh|
|1097th Trans||Medium Boat||65-69||Vung Tau|
|71st Transportation Battalion|
|154th Trans||Terminal Service||67-71||Long Binh|
|231st Trans||Medium Boat||68-69||Vung Tau|
|300th Trans||Terminal Service||66-68||Long Binh|
|368th Trans||Terminal Service||66-72||Long Binh|
|372nd Trans||Terminal Service||68-72||Long Binh|
|402nd Trans||Terminal Transfer||66-71||Long Binh|
|458th Trans||Patrol Boat River||66-71||Vung Tau|
|551st Trans||Terminal Service||66-69||Long Binh|
|544th Trans||Medium Boat||66-72||Vung Tau|
|561st Trans||Terminal Service||66-71||Long Binh|
|565th Trans||Terminal Service||65-69||Can Tho|
|567th Trans||Terminal Service||66-72||Long Binh|
|11th Transportation Battalion|
|117th Trans||Terminal Service||65-68|
|124th Trans||Terminal Service||65-71|
|329th Trans||Heavy Boat||66-72|
|1099th Trans||Medium Boat||65-72||Cat Lai|
|Other Saigon Area Units|
|110th Trans||Depot||65-72||Tan Son Nhut|
|440th Trans||Terminal Transfer||69-72||Can Tho|
The following pictures and text were provided by Ralph Grambo.
A view of the gate at 4th Trans Command Headquarters looking out to the street in Saigon. This complex was formerly the M&M Piers constructed by the French Firm Messageries Maritimes. After Newport was opened all U.S.Army cargo was discharged at Newport although the Command Headquarters remained here close to the center of Saigon for some time. USAID and ARVN cargo was discharged in these commercial areas of Saigon Port and not at Newport. No ammunition or explosives were discharged at the city of Saigon, they were handled at Cat Lai and Nha Be respectively. There was a small snack bar and grill located at the Headquarters building. It used to feature those green lizards on the walls for bug control.
A view of ammunition discharge at Cat Lai. which was a subsidiary operation of the 4th Trans Command. Cat Lai is an anchorage in the Song Be near the mouth of the Saigon River. There were no piers or quays there but it was a lighterage operation in which shiploads of bombs and ammunition were discharged over the side onto barges or lighters and then towed to their destinations. Most of the ordnance went to transhipment areas up the Song Be near Long Binh [Cogido] or Bien Hoa. There was a serious risk of catastrophic explosion so the ships were kept far away populations and each other.
Electric fork lifts were lowered into the holds to move the ammo into position beneath the boom. Boxes were loaded in slings which were then swung over the side using the wing and wing method onto barges lashed alongside.
Newport was a port constructed just upriver of the commercial port of Saigon at an area formerly a swamp and adjacent to Newport Bridge. Newport was used to clear U.S.Army cargo most of which went to depots in the Saigon area especially Long Binh. There were 4 deep draft berths and 2 concrete lined LST slips at Newport. There were large pier warehouses and cargo staging areas. The large vessel in the picture was a Naval roll on roll off ship used for vehicles and heavy lifts. The Sea Land operation was at the far end of the apron.
Also located at Newport were a large mess hall which served 4 excellent meals a day, the fourth being at midnight, a chapel, the Headquarters for the 71st Trans Battalion and the 4th TC Cargo Accounting Division and computer center which I ran among other duties.
A view from the focs'l of a ship being discharged showing the U.S. Army LT1952 a large tug, moving down river. In the foregound you can see a barge with a burned out tank retriever on deck. Armored vehicles were always returned to the United States for rebuilding no matter how destroyed they were. The were always tricky to handle and lift since they weighed over 50 tons.
What appears to be a loaded fuel barge appears in the background probably headed up river to Thu Duc or the Tan Son Nhut Airport fuel Dump.
The Army used civilian contract tugboats and barges to transport a lot of the cargo in the Saigon Port area.
This LCM8 or Mike Boat was photographed in the area of the Song Be between Cat Lai and the beginning of the ship channel through the Rung Sat [Forest of Assassins] Zone. The ship channel between the Saigon River and Vung Tau was a wild mangrove swamp that was often under the control of the Viet Cong. Ships moved under pilots control only during daylight at high tide.
These boats were versatile workhorses and moved throughout the rivers and canals, since the road network was not very useful in the area of the Mekong Delta region.
LCMs tied up in the area of the LST slips at newport. Cargo destined for Can Tho and other flooded areas of the delta was carried by LCMs and LSTs. There were usually two LSTs in this area being loaded through their bow ramps. Shallow draft vessels such as these were not affected by the tidal movements as were the deep draft vessels in the Saigon area.
The Newport Bridge is visible in the background. This bridge was the scene of some ferocious battles during the Tet offensive and the fall of Saigon in 1975. Most of the cargo discharged at Newport moved over that bridge northeast to Long Binh.
All ships using Saigon Harbor had to use the turning basin near that bridge since the river channel was narrow.
Floating Cranes were used to discharge very lifts such as tanks, bulldozers, locomotives and engineering equipment that was beyond the capability of the ship's gear to handle. This U.S.Army floating crane was named "Big John". The pictures shows Big John being maneuvered into position alongside a ship at the berth on the outboard side. These heavy lifts were usually loaded on deck of the ships which allowed them to thrown overboard if the ship was in danger of sinking during a storm at sea.
Handling these heavy lifts was a tedious process since a mistake or a broken cable could sink the vessel or the floating crane.
The map of the Saigon Vung Tau Port System shows the location of the places shown in the pictures above in blue.
It is modified from Delorme Global Explorer CD and so shows current names. The locations of interest are Long Binh Depot the site of the 48th group headquarters and the huge ammo dump. Cogido an ammo transfer point from barges to trucks enroute to Long Binh. Cat Lai was the stream lighterage area for ammo. Nha Be is the pertoleum tank farm built by Shell oil and greatly expanded during the war. It was a favorite target of rocket attacks at night.
The Long Tau ship channel snaked its way through the Rung Sat Special Zone [Forest of Assassins]. This area was mostly controlled by the VC. It was the only deep draft channel to the major port facilities from the sea. There is an excellent article on this area "Controlling the Rung Sat Special Zone" in VIETNAM Magazine, October 1996.
Newport is just north of the old port facilities at Saigon and the end of the deep channel for ocean vessels.
The following material is excerpted and edited from: U.S.Army Transportation Corps in Republic of Vietnam U.S. Army Transportation School, Fort Eustis, VA 1969.
To envision the problems encountered and the accomplishments made by transportation terminal units and personnel, it is necessary to go back to the spring of 1965 when the big buildup in Vietnam began. During the early part of the buildup, port facilities for the massive movement were not available. In November 1965, port congestion reached a peak of 122 ships awaiting discharge in Vietnamese waters. To reduce this backlog and keep the necessary supplies flowing, new mobile piers (DeLong Piers) were ordered and installed within two months.
At the start of the buildup the only deep-water port was Saigon with 10 deep-draft berths. Currently there are 16 ports where cargo is handled over the shore, over piers, at LST ramps, and from barges at barge discharge sites. A typical day would find approximately 80 vessels being worked by military and commercial contract stevedores.
Four U. S. Army Transportation Terminal Commands operating in three major areas in RVN provide command for the terminal and water transport units operating in RVN. By referring to the map you can see the general area of operations of the four terminal commands. The areas of operation fall within three Corps Tactical Zones of Vietnam. The 5th Transportation Terminal Command provides support for the northern half of the II CTZ, the 124th TTC supports the southern half of the II CTZ, and the 4th TTC supports the III and IV CTZ. The other terminal command (125th TTC) provides assistance to the commercial port activities and the military operations within the Port of Saigon.
The Port of Saigon has 12 deep-draft quays for ocean-going ships. The military and commercial activities each utilize six berths. Both share some 30 buoy-discharge sites in the river. From the buoy sites, more than 1500 barges and sampans shuttle cargo to the docks. This was the only commercial port that existed before the build-up. Located on the Saigon River, ships must traverse 40 miles of tricky, winding channels which are not entirely in the control of friendly forces.
Saigon's sister port of Newport, located 3 miles upriver from Saigon, is capable of handling four deep-draft ships. Facilities here also include two LST slips and a barge pier. Due to the depth limitations at Newport, all ships discharging there are Class C-2 or smaller. Sea-Land self-sustaining containerships serve both Saigon and Newport.
Located in Saigon is the 4th Transportation Terminal Command (C). It's mission is a varied one and encompasses logistical responsibilities in the III and IV Corps Tactical Zones of the Republic of Vietnam. Its functions include operation of water terminals and an inland waterway system within the above mentioned areas, and the responsibility for clearance to first destination consignee all military, U. S. Aid for International Development (MD)/Commercial Import Program (CIP) cargo, and a majority of Central Purchasing Agency (CPA) cargo. In addition to the operation of Saigon, it operates Newport, Cat Lai, and the Vung Tau/Delta.
The Vung Tau terminal is composed of two deep-draft berths and five anchorage berths. The best protected anchorage berth is used for troop ships, the furthest away from the terminal is used for ammunition ships. The remaining three anchorage berths are used for general cargo. The Vung Tau terminal also has three landing ship tank (LST) slips which are used primarily for loading and discharging landing craft, utility (LCU).
The U.S. Army Transportation Battalion Vung Tau Delta (Provisional), under the 4th Transportation Command supervises the discharge of more than 60, 000 short tons of cargo monthly at this terminal for the Delta Operations. The Vung Tau battalion commands three boat companies--two heavy and one medium. The heavy boat companies are committed along more than 800 miles of the Vietnam coastline and also into many of the tributaries and streams of the Mekong Delta. In addition to cargo missions, the LCU's are also used for troop movement and in support of tactical operations.
Nha Be, 8 miles from Saigon, consists of barge sites and buoy anchorages. It is operated by ARVN and supervised by U.S. advisors.
Cat Lai, located 10 miles east of Saigon on the Dong Nai River, clears all ammunition coming to Free World Forces in the Saigon area. In addition to the ammunition discharge anchorages, there are four barge-discharge sites.
The following section is based upon material taken from Vietnam Studies Logistical Support Department of the Army, 1972
During the buildup phase, the few land lines of communication were in poor repair and subject to interdiction by enemy forces, and the mobility of U.S. Forces was achieved through the extensive use of water and air transportation.
To fully exploit the potential of the long South Vietnamese coastline, and to supplement improvements in South Vietnam's four major deep water ports, a series of satellite shallow-draft ports were developed. The improvements permitted intra-coastal shipping to increase tonnages between 1965-1968 from several hundred tons to over three million tons.
Ports were rapidly expanded through the use of DeLong piers. These piers were quite versatile and were fabricated in a variety of sizes and configurations ranging from 55 feet to 427 feet long and 45 feet to 90 feet wide. They were towed from their ports of origin and quickly implaced at their destination. The DeLong pier is a good concept and a good facility, and should be included in future contingency plan packages. Although the development of the four major deep draft ports was important to the support of forces in Vietnam, the use of numerous shallow draft ports and special operations, such as Wunder Beach (Than My Thuy) were vital to the support of troops in such areas as I and IV Corps. Wunder Beach (Than My Thuy) in I Corps was a Logistics-Over-The-Shore type operation which was useful during the dry season. This beach operation allowed shallow draft vessels to unload directly on the beach without the use of piers and was an effective and efficient means of discharging cargo. The support of shallow draft operations required the use and coordination of the Military Sea Transportation Service, the Seventh Fleet LSTs in the Western Pacific, and the U.S. Army watercraft resources.
Early in the Vietnam buildup Landing Craft, Mechanized (LCM) and Landing Craft, Utility (LCU), were used to perform ship-to -shore and selective discharge operations and for limited intercoastal and inland waterway operations. These craft were supported in the lighterage role by amphibians of the LARC V (5 ton) and LARC LX (60 ton) (formerly known as BARC) classes. As deep draft piers were developed, some of these craft were diverted to other missions, such as the Wunder Beach operation, where no port facilities existed. Due to the periodic shortage of tugs in the Saigon area, LCMs were frequently used to tow ammunition barges from the in-stream deep draft discharge sites at Nha Be and later at Cat Lai, to barge discharge sites dispersed throughout the area. In northern I Corps, LCMs were used on the Perfume and Cua Viet Rivers to shuttle dry cargo and petroleum, oils, and lubricants from coastal transfer sites to Hue and Dong Ha. In addition to their normal lighterage use, LCMs were employed in performing a variety of harbor service functions such as resupply, maintenance, ferry service, and patrol and were also used in direct support of tactical operations.
As the capacity of deep draft piers improved, both the Army's and the Navy's LCUs were shifted to intra-coastal and inland water ways. The use of LCUs accounted for approximately 29 percent of the total cargo moved intra-coastally during that year. Prior to the completion of the LST ramps at Tan My, Navy LCUs, with periodic Army support, were the primary media for resupply to northern I Corps. Extensive use of LCUs was also made for operations in the Saigon-Vung Tau-Delta complex. In late 1967 six SKILAKs, commercial off-the-shelf LCU/YFU type craft, were procured by the Navy to support operations in I Corps. To help alleviate the shortage of lighterage and coastal shipping capability, Commander U. S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, recommended that a contract be negotiated with Alaska Barge and Transport Company. The concept of utilizing civilian contractors was approved by the Secretary of Defense in November 1965 and he directed the Military Sea Transportation Service to negotiate the contract. By 8 December the contract was signed and operations began in early 1966. This intra-coastal augmentation included a barge-tug fleet among which were two stripped down LST hulls for use as barges. Because only one major port, Cam Ranh Bay, had a deep draft pier for the discharge of ammunition, a large number of the available barges were used to support the ammunition discharge program. The ammunition discharge in the Saigon-Cat Lai (Nha Be) complex, for example, was in effect a combination stream discharge and inland waterway distribution system and placed a heavy requirement on the available barge assets. In each major port complex, contractor-furnished lighterage augmented the limited military capability that was available.
Return to the ATAV Homepage