5th Transportation Terminal Command

YFU Pictures from Robert Garcia 
The Mysterious Sinking of LCU-63 
Petroleum Transport in I Corps from Joe Grillo
The End of U.S. Army Operations at Danang Port from Rich Shaffer
The Organization of the 5th Trans Command in 1971 from Ken "Wilkie" Wilkison  

The 5th Transportation Command was activated at Fort Story and deployed to Vietnam on 29 September 1966. The command was assigned to the Qui Nhon Support Command and tasked with the mission of operating the port of Qui Nhon. Two transportation battalions were assigned to the command. The 394th transportation battalion provided terminal service while the 159th transportation battalion provided lighterage for the port. The Han Jin Company, a civilian contractor for Seoul Korea, lent assistance for operation in stevedoring, tugs, barges and truck commitments. In November 1968 the Sealand Corporation began its operations with containerized cargo direct from the United States/

During June 1970, the 5th Transportation Command moved to Da Nang and was assigned to the United States Army Support Command, Da Nang where it was given the mission of operating the deep water port consisting of four deep draft berths, two shallow draft operation sites and the discharging of ammunition in midstream. Made up of two boat companies, two terminal service companies and one local haul truck company and augmented by the Korean Express Company and Sealand Corporation, the Da Nang Pier operated twenty four hours daily. By November of 1971 the geographical area of responsibility for sea and land transportation covered over 3,000 square miles

Excerpts from "Northern Log,71". a publication describing Army Logistical Functions in I Corps.

The 5th Transportation Command, since arriving from Qui Nhon in early June, 1970, has been operating the U.S. Army Port of Da Nang. The Unit's mission includes clearing the Port of cargo, offloading deep-draft ships at Deep Water Pier, supervising in-the-stream discharge of deep-draft ships at Deep Water Pier, and operating two shallow-draft discharge sites. At Bridge Ramp, transshipment of general cargo is handled, as well as the discharge of ammunition for destinations in the immediate area. At Tien Sha Ramp, shallow-draft vessels are offloaded and then reloaded with ammunition bound for outlying areas reached by water, such as Tan My, Chu Lai, and Hue (via the Perfume River).
The Command not only loads and offloads these shallow-draft vessels, but also maintains its own small fleet, including SKILAC's and Y-type coastal tankers, and medium truck company for drayage service within a 25-mile radius of the port area. finally, the 5th Transportation Command is tasked with managing Camp Baxter, its own base of Operations, in East Da Nang. Headquarters and headquarters Company is responsible for the functional supervision of Deep Water Pier, bridge Ramp, and Tien Sha Ramp. The Company also controls port operations through the Harbormaster's Office, regulates the movement of subordinate units floating craft, provides documentation for all cargo, arranges for drayage in the port complex, and directs installation activities at Camp Baxter.
Since its arrival from Long Binh on September 15, 1970, the 62nd Transportation Company (Medium Truck) has provided drayage for port clearance and backloading operations in Da Nang. The Company, equipped with tractor-trailer combination vehicles, moves cargo between three port sites and to customer units within a 25-mile radius of the Port.
The 264th Transportation Company (Terminal Service) manages local national and third-country national stevedore gangs offloading deep-draft ships in Da Nang. since acquiring Deep Water Pier from the U.S. Navy in the mid-1970, the 264th has equalled and in some cases surpassed the standards of performance achieved by the former tenants. The Company is presently conducting a "buddy" system to train ARVN soldiers in stevedoring activities as part of the Vietnamization program.
The 329th Transportation Company (Heavy Boat) is responsible for most of the costal missions performed by the 5th Transportation Command between Chu Lai and Dong Ha. The Company's SKILAC's carry ammunition on outbound trips and return to Da Nang with retrograde materiel.
The 870th Transportation Company (Terminal Service) operates the shallow-draft discharge facility at Bridge Ramp in Da nang, and has supervisory responsibility for the offloading of ammunition by a civilian contractor at the same location. The Company coordinates these activities with those of the 2nd Platoon, 403d Transportation Company (Terminal Transfer), currently assigned to the 870th, which operates the ammunition transshipment facility at Tien Sha Ramp. At both sites, ships, barges, and landing craft load and unload ammunition and general cargo for Allied forces in Military Region 1.
The 1098th Transportation Company (Medium Boat) maintains a small fleet of "pusher" boats-converted LCM-8's and -6's--for light tug assistance in Da Nang Harbor. The Company's LCM's are also used for intracoastal and, on occasion, coastal operations.
An unaccompanied baggage activity is operated by the 5th Transportation Command as well, for the purpose of handling hold baggage for all U.S. military and civilian personnel in the Da Nang area. 
394th Transportation Battalion 159th Transportation Battalion
Terminal Terminal
65-70 66-71

Transferred to 4th Trans Command
Companies in 1968. After 1970 the command was redeployed north and as the truck groups disbanded some of those assets were included.
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.
Unit Type Dates of Service Typical Location
HHC 5TC Headquarters 66-72 Qui Nhon
71st Trans Terminal Service 65-68 Dong Ha
285th Trans Terminal Service 65-72 Qui Nhon
264th Trans Terminal Service 66-72 Qui Nhon
387th Trans Terminal Service 66-70 Qui Nhon
854th Trans Terminal Service 66-71 Qui Nhon
1098th TC "Sea Dogs Medium Boat 65-72 Qui Nhon
241st Trans Depot 66-72 Qui Nhon
297th Trans Car 66-72 Nha Trang
359th Trans Medium Petroleum Truck 66-72 Qui Nhon
363rd Trans Medium Cargo Truck 67-72 Dong Ha
403rd Trans Terminal Transfer 66-72 Dong Ha
737th Trans Medium Petroleum Truck 68-69 Quang Tri

Excerpts from Operational Reports During 1968

Monsoon Problems

Although the present monsoon season has not been as severe as usual, the discharge of ammunition ships in the outer harbor was quite difficult due to rough seas and swells. Work at night was especially affected, and work during both day and night had to be periodically suspended. An inner harbor anchorage for two ammunition ships and a floating barge pier is planned for operation before the next monsoon season.

Frustrated Cargo

Port clearance of outsized cargo especially poles and pilings up to 90 feet in length and 65 foot I-beams continues to be a problem. Since there are no semitrailers of sufficient length organic to any unit within the support command complex, the port has backlogged approximately 9,000 poles and piling.

Enemy Activity

The Tet offensive commenced on he night of 29 January 1968. Much enemy activity was encountered in and around Qui Nhon and the port. Port operations continued nearly normal but port clearance was hampered by fire fights on the roads leading from the port to depot storage areas. This command utilized third country national civilian contractor trucks and drivers for port clearance. Since they are civilians, they were reluctant to operate under such conditions. Escort was discontinued 1 March , but on the night of 4 March a contractor vehicle was ambushed and the driver killed. Armed escorts comprised of staff officers of this Command ran convoys of port clearance vehicles from the port to depot locations 24 hours a day throughout the offensive to assure adequate port clearance. Troops of this command were actively engaged with the enemy for several days in and around the Port of Qui Nhon. A swimmer attempt to sabotage an ammunition ship in the outer harbor was prevented by alert MP's on board the vessel and the EOD experts. The rail line used to clear Air Force ammunition from the port to Phu Cat Air Base was put out of action during the Tet offensive.

Stevedore Shortage

A significant shortage of stevedore personnel in grades E-2 through E-4 exists within all four terminal service companies. Through extensive cross-training of personnel with excess MOS's, the mission is still being accomplished. The stevedore capability of the Korean contractor also provides some flexibility.

Electric Forklifts

Regulations require the use of electric forklifts while discharging ammunition from the holds of ships. The forklift and the required batteries and chargers are of a commercial design thus complicating the resupply of repair parts and components. Batteries are a continuing source of problems as the ships are worked in the stream, requiring the forklift and the batteries to be lifted from the LCM to the hold of the ship. In rough weather, considerable damage is done to both batteries and forklifts during handling. Once the battery is damaged, there is no local repair capability. The batteries must be sent to Can Ranh Bay.

The Army Takes Over Operations of Danang Port

Text and Pictures from Ralph Grambo

As the Marines left I Corps and their positions were taken up by U.S. Army troops, the U.S. Navy and it's Naval Support Command moved out and turned the transportation and terminal operations over to the Army. The 5th Trans Command for Qui Nhon took over the operation of the Naval facilities in the Danang Harbor. The 4th Trans Command from Saigon assisted with technical surveys of capabilities and requirements. The CO of the 71st Trans Battalion along with another captain and myself were sent TDY to check out the facilities and make recommendations. It was secret at the time but preparations were also being made to support the ill fated Vietnamese incursion into Laos which was to be supported by the U.S. Army. I enjoyed this assignment and the weather and scenery was much better than in the delta around Saigon. This view of the harbor taken from headquarters building which had just been demolished by a typhoon shows a small pilot boat in the foreground and a Hospital ship anchored in the center of the harbor.

The second picture shows me standing on a pier near the mooring lines of a ship. Danang harbor was very deep and rocky and much larger [deeper draft] ships could be unloaded there. The terrain made over the beach operations impossible. The army used DeLong piers at Danang as they suited the harbor characteristics well.

DeLong piers are essentially very large concrete barges that are towed to their destination. They are placed near the shore in a location where there is enough draft for the vessels to be worked. The large pipes are inserted into holes along the edges and then the complete unit is jacked up hydraulically with the pipes sinking into the bottom for a firm footing.A ramp is constructed to the shore and you have an instant pier that could be used to unload 4 ships simultaneously. The pipes could be cut off if they were in the way of operations but they were far enough apart to allow the ships rigging to be used for discharge. The ships were worked around the clock and could sail at any time because they did not have the tidal restrictions and shallow channel that existed in the Saigon area.

I can't remember much about what our recommendations were. I do remember that I was getting very short and did not like the trip back to Saigon on a C130 that made a LAPES drop somewhere in the mountains.

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.

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 figure 16 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 5th Transportation Terminal Command is located at Qui Nhon. Its attached units will vary depending on the support mission. Its present mission is to discharge and load deep-draft and intercoastal vessels, to deliver cargo to first destination, and assist in amphibious operations. A silting shelf, which extends into the ocean for several miles necessitated lighterage hauls of up to 5 miles. Restrictions were also caused by sea and weather conditions. These conditions have caused several days! delay wherein ships could not be discharged. Qui Nhon is the main source of supply for troop installations at An Khe and Pleiku in the Highlands and for Republic of Korea Army units. One special function of the 5th TTC (A) is to exercise operational control over the Han Jin Transportation Company, a Korean contractor capable of discharging vessels, moving commodities to the beach, loading into beach clearance vehicles, and transporting to the depot or other inland destinations. In order to meet demands of the increased tonnage coming into the area the port underwent considerable expansion. It now has a 1200-foot DeLong pier permitting discharge of four deep-draft vessels at one time and direct loading onto trucks.

[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 emailRalph Grambo if you think you can provide interesting items.]

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