[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.]
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? Test the
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? Test theDetachment
159th Transportation Battalion
Transferred to 5TC
71st Transportation Battalion
Patrol Boat River
11th Transportation Battalion
Other Saigon Area Units
Tan Son Nhut
The following pictures and text were provided by
A view of the gate at 4th Trans
Command Headquarters looking out to the street in Saigon. This complex was
formerly the Mvàamp;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
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
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
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
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
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
Transportation Terminal Command provides support for the northern half of
the II CTZ, the
TTC supports the southern half of the II CTZ, and the 4th TTC supports the
III and IV CTZ. The other terminal command
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
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 miễn phí 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
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
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 Cất cánh, 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
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