The Attempted Rescue and Salvage of LCU-63

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329TH Transportation Company
Heavy Boat
Personnel Lost
Dennis I. Day,
Richard C. Dority,
David L. Ginn,
Perry C. Kitchens,
Arlie R. Mangus,
Jerry D. Martin,
Calvin A. Norris,
James R. Pantall,
John D. Shewmake,
David W. Woods
Billie Hammond Peeples 
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From Anthony Ey, Jake Linton, Ralph Grambo 
Summary of events from the Official Proceedings of the dive and rescue team:

On the 6th Nov this team was requested by the Naval Support Facility to assist in the salvage of YFU-63, which  overturned and ran aground on the beach in position (ZD001200).  This vessel had been in transit from DaNang to Tan My carrying 150 tons of white phosphorus 150 mm and 81mm rounds.  Investigating teams have drawn no conclusions as to the cause of the wreck.  The crew of 12 is missing and one body plus 20 cases of cargo were found washed ashore on Ly Son island (BT950002).  OIC CDT3 was placed in charge of the shore side salvage operations and together with USS Grapple, USS Cohost and Philippines tug Trojan attempted to parbuckle the wreck.  As operations started to show some success, Typhoon Patsy suspended operations and placed the wreck in such a position to make salvage uneconomical.  The hull was cut open using oxy-acetylene and pneumatic chisels but no sign of any bodies were found.  Operations were finally terminated on the 22nd November, and the wreck remains in position on the beach.

 This is the very beginning when we were passing a jackstay to the stern of the wreck.  The 3 in the photo are Tony Ey, Brian Furner and Phil Narramore (all RAN)
Aussie Chief (E8) John Gilcrist supervising running of jackstay.  Aussie divers are in wetsuits, right foreground.
Phil Narramore (E7) and Brian Furner (kneeling) with unknown US sailor running jackstay.
Chinook running 8" nylon towline from shore to the USS Grapple or USS Cohos Salvage tug.  The line was dropped on the beach in a coil and an end picked up by the helo and passed to the tug.  It was secured to the LCU with a chain cable.
Passing the towline messenger to the tug.
Buildling a causeway to attempt to open the hull to search for explosives and or bodies.
Pumping water and sand from the hull after opening.
Phil Narramore, Brian Furner and Tony Ey on our return to our hooch in DaNang after about a week on the site.
RANCDT3 in DaNang L-R Brian Furner, Tony Ey, Jake Linton, John Gilchrist, Larry Digney, Phil Narramore.

Material from Royal Australian Navy Salvage Team

The following information from the Australians working with us helps to clarify what happened to the LCU and the cargo.  Please visit their website and sign the guestbook.

Our tasks varied from dealing with booby traps through to major salvage operations. During the typhoon season in November 1970, a U.S. Army YFU carrying 150 tonnes of 81mm and 105mm White Phosphorus shells had capsized off the coast to the north of Da Nang and was driven ashore on a remote section of beach near the village of Tan My. Four team members along with U.S. Army Divers and a U.S. Navy Salvage team, all under Jake's command, were immediately flown to the site aboard CH47 Chinook helicopters to commence salvage efforts. Sadly, none of the eleven YFU crew members had survived. Conditions were atrocious with typhoon 'Patsy' still in full force. After numerous attempts in high surf conditions, tow lines were finally attached and passed to Naval tugs standing offshore . Repeated efforts to tow the craft to seaward were finally abandoned in favour of attempting to drag it further up the beach using bull dozers and tank retrievers. This too failed, so a ramp of sand was built by the dozers to afford easier access to the hull. With the weather abating, the hull was opened and the ordnance removed, and I'm sure to this day, the wreck remains, embedded in the sands of Tan My. I have a vivid memory of this task when after several days on site, we radioed for a re-supply of drinking water and rations. When the chopper arrived, it was loaded with C rations and cases of warm Budweiser beer. When we asked, "Where's the water?", the crew Chief replied with a smile, "We heard you guys needed a drink". Warm beer and cold C rations on a miserably wet day are a little tough on one's digestive system.

On 3 Nov 1970, as the MSC 116 salvage operation was drawing to a close, NSF personnel, returning by helicopter to DaNang, observed an overturned YFU grounded near shore off Tan My. US Army Support Command, DaNang confirmed that YFU-63 and its crew were missing and requested the assistance of Commanding Officer, US NSF, DaNang. An initial investigation of YFU-63 on 4 November indicated there was no possibility that any of the eleven crew members were trapped alive in the compartments. Commander Seventh Fleet was requested to provide a salvage ship and salvage operations began on 5 November with the assistance of USS COHOES, a large fleet tug, a NSF diving barge, many salvage personnel, perimeter security forces, and much equipment, such as air compressors, pneumatic tools, cutting torches, tow wires and heavy lines. Efforts to pull YFU-63 off the beach and to right her were severely hampered by adverse weather and heavy surf conditions. Nevertheless a helicopter, two tank retrievers and two bulldozers were added to the salvage forces and efforts to recover the craft continued until 15 November when, after Herculean efforts to refloat or parbuckle YFU-63 were unsuccessful, it was necessary to cut into the hull to remove ammunition and other material and to search for bodies of crewman who might have been trapped in compartments. In spite of heavy seas constantly breaking over YFU-63 and perilous diving conditions, the salvage team recovered the ship's engineering log, quartermaster's notebook and other documents but discovered no bodies. On 21 Nov 1970, with a tropical storm imminent, Commanding Officer, US NSF, DaNang determined further salvage efforts were no longer feasible and terminated the operation.
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