MRF Summary Report - April 1969
RIVERINE ASSAULT FORCE SUMMARY
Naval units of the Mobile Riverine Force participated in operations which were
characteristically diversified as to type of mission and area of employment during April.
Reconnaissance in force, search and destroy, patrol, ambush, troop lift, inspection, Eagle
Float, fire support, blocking force, escort and psyops duties were carried out by river
assault craft often in conjunction with U.S. Army or Vietnamese forces as they operated
from the GIANT SLINGSHOT Campaign area (the northern most area of Navy involvement in the
Delta region) to the southern most reaches of the Cau Mau Peninsula (SILVER MACE II
Campaign). The long term riverine assault operations in Kien Hoa Province continued as the
combined Army/Navy units again inflicted severe losses on the enemy.
The following table indicates the distribution and employment of river assault craft on a
typical day in April:
|2nd Brigade, U.S. 9th Infantry Division
|Operation GIANT SLINGSHOT/Barrier Reef
|Operation SILVER MACE II
The recurring danger of enemy swimmer/sapper activity against river craft was in evidence
again this month as three mining incidents or attempts were recorded against MRF craft
operating in Kien Hoa Province and enemy Base Area 480. On 22 April, while transiting
enemy Base Area 480 enroute to the MRB after completion of Operation SILVER MACE II, RAD
132 assault craft were engaged in an enemy initiated firefight on the Song Cai Tu 8 1/2
miles southwest of Vi Thanh (WR 420 756). During the action a watermine exploded 60 feet
off the starboard bow of CCB-132-1 and caused minor flooding which was brought under
control. Potential disaster was averted on 24 April when a Viet Cong command detonated
mine was discovered attached to the anti-swimmer net of APL-26 between the bow and
pontoon. The homemade mine, weighing approximately 150-175 pounds, was discovered at 0730.
Fish floats were seen attached to the barrier while it was being raised prior to getting
underway; inspection by EOD personnel revealed the mine with the detonator lead severed.
Speculation was that the detonator wire was cut during a minesweep patrol by a base
defense boat. Lastly, ASPB 132-3 was sunk (see this page for photo)
on 29 April on the Cai Tu River as an enemy mine of unknown type was detonated beneath its
stern during the operation in enemy Base Area 480 in Chuong Thien Province. A second ASPB,
132-1 was damaged as a result of the explosion. (This incident is described in the SEA
LORDS section under Operations in Enemy Base Area 480.) The sunken ASPB was already hauled
up on a beach by April 30 as the timely salvage operations continued.
Salvage operations on Monitor 111-1 which was sunk as a result of battle damage on the Vam
Co Tay River, 4 1/2 miles northeast of Moc Hoa were completed on 20 April and the craft
was towed to Nha Be. The extensive repairs necessary are estimated to require use of out
of country facilities. The monitor had sunk on 31 May.
River Assault Division 92 commenced six days of training for Vietnamese Navy boat crews on
28 April under the Accelerated Turnover Program (ACTOV). This training is in connection
with a scheduled incremental turnover of RAC to the VNN in June. Loudspeaker psyops
broadcasts were an important aspect of RAC activity as tapes were played in all operating
areas, at times during insertion/extraction of troops and immediately after firefights.
TASK GROUP 117.1 Operations
The concerted efforts of the MRF in Kien Hoa Province and adjacent areas again resulted in
a record number of enemy casualties as aggressive search and destroy tactics accounted for
1155 Viet Cong killed during April. Side thrusts of a few days duration were also made by
MRF forces into Go Cong and Vinh Binh Provinces during the month.
Enemy initiated activity during April diminished somewhat as hostile fire incidents
directed against TG 117.1 RAC were encountered on eight occasions as compared to 21 such
incidents last month. U.S. Navy casualties during these actions were 27 wounded. River
assault craft of River Assault Divisions (RAD) 131, 132, and 151 supported the 3/47th,
4/47th, 3/60th and 6/31st Infantry battalions of the U.S. Army Ninth Infantry Division at
various times throughout the month as assault landings were conducted along numerous
rivers and canals throughout the operating area. RAD 92 as utility division provided
frequent escort services, supported the 3/34th Artillery Battalion at fire support bases
and commenced ACTOV training with the VNN. RAD 152 acted as base defense division. On 25
April RAD 131 relieved RAD 111 in the GIANT SLINGSHOT area.
On 2 April, nine RAC of RAD 131 (with one company each of 4/47th & 3/60 infantry and
the headquarters company of 3/34 Artillery embarked) were engaged in an enemy initiated
firefight on the Rach Mo Cay, 13 miles south of My Tho (XS 468 206) while escorting 3/34th
artillery barges. About eight B-40 rockets and heavy automatic weapons were fired at the
boats resulting in one rocket hit each on Monitor 151-1 and ATC 131-12 and minor material
damage. Fire was immediately returned and suppressed by the boat column and LHFT overhead.
Nine Navymen were wounded (all minor); one soldier was killed and four were wounded in the
attack. Enemy casualties were one killed with other results of suppressive fire unknown.
Seven RAD 92 units, engaged primarily in fire support base (FSB) security operations
during April, were enroute on 16 April from the mobile riverine base at Dong Tam to FSB
Khan when they received five recoilless rifle rounds from the south bank of the Song Ben
Tre, 8 miles southeast of My Tho (XS 532 313) at 0935. Monitor 92-1 and Refueler 112-1
were hit by one round each wounding three sailors. All units returned and suppressed the
fire. The refueler was carrying Mogas in the well-deck; this was ignited and the boat
became engulfed in flames. The blazing boat was immediately beached and the crew evacuated
to ATC's 92-7 and 93-3. Firing commenced immediately and was aided by the quick arrival of
additional equipment and firefighting foam flown to the scene by an Army helo. The fire
was extinguished at 1115. An Army LHFT came on station immediately and Army 1st Air
Cavalry troops arrived within 10 minutes to provide security for salvage operations. The
boat was towed to Dong Tam for repairs.
On 26 April ATC's 152-7 and 152-13, while on base defense patrol, sighted a total of five
persons at two locations on the south bank of the My Tho River (XS 383 406 and XS 400 407)
two miles southwest of Dong Tam. The Viet Cong were spotted in a free fire zone with a
night observation device. The RAC took the Viet Cong under fire resulting in two probable