Tet Offensive

Brent Pyburn
20th March 2009, 22:48
Does anyone recall being involved in the transport of aviation spirit to Guam during the Vietnam war. In 1968 on the British Oak we ran aviation spirit from Kwinana to the US Air Force in Guam. I remember discharging at a buoy in the natural harbour whilst B52's were taking off and landing during the Tet Offensive. We managed to get ashore to the US Servicemens club where we were made really welcome and never had to buy a drink! Quite interestingly we met a number of RAF lads who were helping out with aircraft maintenance. So much for UK not being involved in the war! Another thing which sticks out in my mind was the US forces radio (Hello Vietnam) which played non stop soul and rock music.
When we arrived back in UK at Stanlow we were warned that we could be subject to Anti Vietnam War demonstrations but it never happened. When I listen to anti US sentiment over Iraq and Afghanistan I recall those days and how well we were treated by the military. As in any conflict it's the politicians that are the problem not the grunts!!

Derek Roger
21st March 2009, 01:28
Was in Guam in 73 .
But was is Okinawa in 66 on the Moss tanker Lucigen carrying Jet A 1 and Naptha for the Vietnam war .
A time I prefer to forget ; I was only 21 at the time but had a couple of deep sea trips under my belt ( so considered myself ; as young men do ; to be knowledgable )
I was shocked to see how young and immature the young soldiers were who were on a last stop for R&R before being flown to Vietnam .

Only later did I realise what the Naptha was for .

Derek

Brent Pyburn
21st March 2009, 11:54
You are absolutely right about the age of the soldiers, however I was so young I never really appreciated the horror of the war and funnily enough I guess because I was involved in the periphery I became really interested in the war and read many books. In later years I became involved in oil spill response and one piece of kit we had in our stockpile in Singapore was the ADDS Pack or Aerial Deployed Dispersant Spray kit. It was a tank with spray arms that was deployed from the rear end of a Hercules C-130 and would spray dispersant on an oiled sea. In 1993 I visited Vietnam to give a lecture on oil spill response and had a few PowerPoint slides of our kit which included the ADDS Pack. After the lecture a government official came over to me and explained that the ADDS Pack was originally developed to spray Agent Orange defoliant during the war. I felt really embarrassed but being typically Asian he had forgotten about the past and was really interested in its present role and in fact we became good friends.

Old Janner
22nd March 2009, 06:01
Does anyone recall being involved in the transport of aviation spirit to Guam during the Vietnam war. In 1968 on the British Oak we ran aviation spirit from Kwinana to the US Air Force in Guam. I remember discharging at a buoy in the natural harbour whilst B52's were taking off and landing during the Tet Offensive. We managed to get ashore to the US Servicemens club where we were made really welcome and never had to buy a drink! Quite interestingly we met a number of RAF lads who were helping out with aircraft maintenance. So much for UK not being involved in the war! Another thing which sticks out in my mind was the US forces radio (Hello Vietnam) which played non stop soul and rock music.
When we arrived back in UK at Stanlow we were warned that we could be subject to Anti Vietnam War demonstrations but it never happened. When I listen to anti US sentiment over Iraq and Afghanistan I recall those days and how well we were treated by the military. As in any conflict it's the politicians that are the problem not the grunts!!

Hi Brent, no not to Guam, on the British Loyalty we loaded aviation spirit in Aden for Sattahib, which was the refuelling station for the B52's to return back to Guam, we did two trips. Big military base no servicemens club, but some good bars, with bullet holes in the ceiling where drunken US service men would disharge their pistols.
Spence.

JohnBP
22nd March 2009, 23:56
British Sergeant picked up a cargo from Singapore, we passed a Shell Tanker with a shell hole in its side.. anyway we ended up on a dock on an island somewhere. I was a JE and my pal and I walked the silver pipe across the island and lo and behold there was a US tanker (RFA equivelant) her name was Boston somthing, anyway on approaching the ship and was waved off by staff with guns.... my little contribution to the VW

JamesM
14th May 2009, 13:11
British Sergeant picked up a cargo from Singapore, we passed a Shell Tanker with a shell hole in its side.. anyway we ended up on a dock on an island somewhere. I was a JE and my pal and I walked the silver pipe across the island and lo and behold there was a US tanker (RFA equivelant) her name was Boston somthing, anyway on approaching the ship and was waved off by staff with guns.... my little contribution to the VW

Had a similar experience re-Shell Tanker, Singapore. My first trip was on the Gannet and we were discharging a cargo at Pulau Bukum Island, it would be mid '68. I was eager to see something of Singapore, so as soon as I was off watch, myself and a couple of the other engs. caught the launch across to Jardine Steps. As we passed by the other jetties we noticed that there was a Shell Tanker which appeared to have a lot of small black marks on her bridge housing and funnel. We were debating what these could be, when another guy on the launch interupted us and explained that they were bullet holes. He was from that ship and told us that they were running up the Mekong Delta with supplies for the US Forces. It apparently was quite common for "Charlie" to loose off at them from the river bank. We were dumbfounded.
Then he says, "by the way lads the company is looking for more crew, is anybody interested, 'cause the pay is very good.
Needless to say ---- there were no takers.
Regards, James.

twogrumpy
14th May 2009, 16:35
Did the Sattahib run on the Osprey in 69, if memory is correct loading in Aden.
Managed too make it up to the airbase at U-Tapao, most impressive with the long lineup of B52's and assorted other aircraft.
Remember also the Shell tanker at that time in Singapore, which was on the run up the Mekong, seem to recall sandbags round the bridge.
Happy days.
(Cloud)

trucker
14th May 2009, 17:34
wasn,t unusual seeing the shell job,s as such.in 69, done two run,s aden to sattahip,one to guam.the kiwi.some of the shell lads i believe,even used to take their leave in singapore.what with their tax relieve and war bonus,they seemed happy enough.b 52s were some size.sailed with a couple of ex-shell lads who used to tell some hairy stories.

Derek Roger
14th May 2009, 23:39
We had a couple of Moss tankers which took products to Vietnam .
Lads applied for Medals but were ignored by the Americans .
When in Vietnam dishcharging the US Soldiers aboard would throw precussion devices into the water around the ship to deter enemy divers .

Problem was that each time this happened the electrical starters for the various pumps running in the engine room would trip !
Sometimes causing a blackout if the Generator cooling pump tripped .
Then followed a "Pain in The **** " start up to get pumping again .

Happy Days Derek

My Experience was in Okinawa and Guam which I dont think were considered war Zone . So no Medals ( dont want one anyway ) .
The lads going to Vietnam should have been awarded a campaign medal .
30000 tons of Av Gas / Jet A1 and Naptha was not a pretty cargo to be sitting on top of .

kewl dude
15th May 2009, 06:49
#4 Sattahib, which was the refueling station for the B52's to return back to Guam, we did two trips. Big military base no servicemens club.

#6 It apparently was quite common for "Charlie" to loose off at them from the river bank

#7 U-Tapao, seem to recall sandbags round the bridge.

#9 Lads applied for Medals but were ignored by the Americans. When in Vietnam discharging the US Soldiers aboard would throw percussion devices into the water around the ship to deter enemy divers.

Sattahip had clubs but they were not obvious. I was told the Thaiís were against on base clubs, so they were hidden, but all the folks stationed there knew where they were. I rode over to a club with a sergeant in a US Army pick up truck. He went into an area where Thaiís who worked on the base lived in rude housing. Pulled into the yard of a house and up to white bed sheets drying on a clothesline. Honked his horn and one sheet slid back. Drove through and into a courtyard in front of a U shaped warehouse, within which was the club.

U-Tapao was not just a refueling base. We hauled 500 pound aerial bombs into Sattahip 16,000 tons at a time on C4ís. We unloaded at a pair of Delong piers isolated all the away around the harbor from Sattahip port. Two pictures attached.

Running the river from Vung Tau to Saigon the bridge as well as temporary machine gun emplacements on the forecastle head and stern were surrounded with sand bags. Charlie shot more than small arms at ships. They seemed to have an unending supply of Chinese made anti tank rockets. We knew this since some of them were duds and just fell on the deck. One ship between Vung Tau and Saigon we got 58 holes in the port hull above the water line from these rockets. Our cargo? Bagged cement. When discharging here and there they found a few broken bags from rockets exploding amidst our cargo.

Percussion grenades were a pain in the engine room, not unusual for the explosions to kill the plant. Down below it sounded like a GIANT hitting the hull with a HUGE sledge hammer, and all the accumulated dust would filter down. Do not feel bad that the USA did not acknowledge your service, the award wasnít anything to write home about. Attached.

Greg Hayden

trucker
15th May 2009, 14:55
if i remember correctly ,you went ashore by launch?.had to be carefull of the shore patrols ,they didn,t care who they hit.

ChasD
15th May 2009, 17:20
Had a similar experience re-Shell Tanker, Singapore. My first trip was on the Gannet and we were discharging a cargo at Pulau Bukum Island, it would be mid '68. I was eager to see something of Singapore, so as soon as I was off watch, myself and a couple of the other engs. caught the launch across to Jardine Steps. As we passed by the other jetties we noticed that there was a Shell Tanker which appeared to have a lot of small black marks on her bridge housing and funnel. We were debating what these could be, when another guy on the launch interupted us and explained that they were bullet holes. He was from that ship and told us that they were running up the Mekong Delta with supplies for the US Forces. It apparently was quite common for "Charlie" to loose off at them from the river bank. We were dumbfounded.
Then he says, "by the way lads the company is looking for more crew, is anybody interested, 'cause the pay is very good.
Needless to say ---- there were no takers.
Regards, James.

If you have a scratch around in the thread 'Shipping Lines' - 'Shell' - 'Shell Tankers 1967-1975' ; there are some interesting comments and pictures on the activity in that era. Several 'H' and 'A' class involved collectively known as the 'Saigon Flyers', though a lot of friendly competion as to who was the true 'Flyer'.

twogrumpy
15th May 2009, 20:07
if i remember correctly ,you went ashore by launch?.had to be carefull of the shore patrols ,they didn,t care who they hit.
Can recall to this day being asked nicely to leave a "night club" by an american Snowball, as I believe the American MP's are called, because of their white steel helmets.
Well I am 6' 3" and I reckon he was about a foot taller and built like a brick outhouse and had a big stick..............I did not argue.
(Cloud)

trucker
15th May 2009, 20:11
twogrumpy-remember being in a bar when a bit trouble broke out with some ,yanks.there was 6 of us minding our own business,m.p s. came in and battered everybody.

kewl dude
17th May 2009, 19:17
Attached three page scans from a booklet provided by the US Army to each ship arriving at Vung Tau early on. Saigon River route with notes about things to watch out for. I added the red X's as guides to help me combine the three into one large image.

Greg Hayden

ChasD
17th May 2009, 19:39
Attached three page scans from a booklet provided by the US Army to each ship arriving at Vung Tau early on. Saigon River route with notes about things to watch out for. I added the red X's as guides to help me combine the three into one large image.

Greg Hayden

"Banc de Corail" - (Coral Bank) was the favourite target point for attacks as the ships needed to slow for the turn, stick to a constrained channel, and was well provided with natural local cover. It was, I believe, where Haustrum was forced aground when the quartermaster was killed, Hyria was also heavily hit at that location, though without casualties. Brings back a lot of memories, seeing the charts again - thanks for that KD !

K urgess
17th May 2009, 19:39
I've rotated your three images for you, Greg. (Thumb)
I was getting a crick in the neck.
Cheers
Kris

Cranky
18th May 2009, 05:46
This is a long read, but worth the effort.

http://walraven.org/vietnam/the_early_years.html

Cranky.

Mic Errington
3rd October 2009, 01:56
Hi, just found this thread, I was on one trip to Guam taking avter (aviation turbine spirit) I think we called it. I vividly remember a few things, going ashore for a jab of some sort the place was decked out with banners as president Nixon was visiting the next day - he just missed me the poor chap. I also remember the B52's taking off just over our heads, bloody noisy! Other stuff too much to type. I was also on the Hyria and spent 6 months plying between Singapore and Saigon, though we actually tied up at Nah Bay, probably not spelt like that. For anyone who is interested you can get a medal, I did this more for a laugh than anything but also to have something tangable to say I was there. It's the American Service in Vietnam medal which may or may not be Merchant Marine only. Thing is you can't actually mention this to anyone as they either think you are full of bullshit or a fantasist or just plain barking mad or, more recently, wouldn't know what the Vietnam war was anyway. Maybe someone out there was on the same ship same time? I well remember my first experience of the SVA dropping hand grenades in the water next to the hull, to ward off divers with limpet mines, scared the life out of me for several seconds, till I realised everyone else was laughing their heads off. Strange times, I was there the spring / summer of '71 by the way, would love to hear from anyone with similar memories.

Magic Fingers
3rd October 2009, 10:27
1st trip eng/app on the Aluco. Did two trips up the Mekong to Nah Bhe with Avtur, Avgas, Mogas, Diesel and Naptha late 67 early 68. Paid off Singapore just before Tet Offensive. Ashore in Nha Bhe took trip in US army huey and still have the pics I took. Very exciting for a 20yr old.
Richard (but known as Dick in those far off days.)

R781128
25th October 2009, 14:03
I recall being in Saigon on Luminous and they would chuck detonators overside all night. Eventually we went "manned engine room" as the alarm system was going haywire. Carrying gasoline so fairly happy to get out of there.Can remember the river banks being defoliated as far as the eye could see. Bit ironic as now in 2009 I find myself working in Haiphong.

BlythSpirit
25th October 2009, 14:52
Re post #2 from Derek Roger:

You needn't be concerned about Naptha being used in the manufacture of Napalm. It is a feedstock for petrol (gasoline).

The first napalm was made from a mixture of naphthenic acid with aluminium and magnesium salts of palmitic acid.

I hope that makes you rest easier at nights!! (It would of course have blown you up if ignited on your tanker!!)(Thumb)

Derek Roger
25th October 2009, 15:44
Re post #2 from Derek Roger:

You needn't be concerned about Naptha being used in the manufacture of Napalm. It is a feedstock for petrol (gasoline).

The first napalm was made from a mixture of naphthenic acid with aluminium and magnesium salts of palmitic acid.

I hope that makes you rest easier at nights!! (It would of course have blown you up if ignited on your tanker!!)(Thumb)

Thanks for your information . Derek

Billieboy
25th October 2009, 16:06
Naptha gasses changed the colour of all the tools, gauges and pumproom ladders on the Llanishen one trip, bloody awful stuff, never did like it, carried it twice I think. The only good thing about a naptha cargo was the 280Redwood bunkers, cleanest, lightest, fuel I ever put in a marine boiler, the first three days you could see the boiler getting cleaner.

Frank P
25th October 2009, 16:27
In 1969/70 I did a couple of trips to Guam while I was onboard the Norwegian tanker M/T Norsk Viking (later M/T Pet), we took aviation fuel (avgas) from Singapore. What I remember most is that we were not allowed on the oil pier while the American cargo ships were discharging bombs and munitions on the next pier, which was most days, sometimes you could be anchored in the bay for 5-6 days, we got ashore everyday using the ships lifeboat. One thing that I will never forget is those B52's taking off most days.
Cheers Frank

kewl dude
24th November 2010, 19:46
Off and on the past few weeks I have been going through my browser bookmarks, finding many that no longer exist, and perusing others that I have not looked at in quite awhile.

http://academic.uofs.edu/faculty/gramborw/atav/4tc.htm

Is one from 'Nam that I had not looked at in quite awhile. It was from here a few days ago that I found a link to new 'Nam pages:

http://www.allanfurtado.com/index.html

"Unofficial Web Site Of The 71st Transportation Battalion In Vietnam"

These are the US Army kids who unloaded our ships then transported that cargo all over 'Nam. I say kids since you find pictures of guys who were mostly 18, 19, 20.
An age 26 guy was known as The Old Man.

A lot of these pictures on this site were taken around Newport. There are even newer pictures taken this decade around 'Nam by returning Vets. Even New Port, that is what the sign says today, in a picture taken at the vehicle entry to Newport. These guys also unloaded ships at other Saigon piers and in the stream at Cat Lai.

Until I looked at this site I was unaware that Newport was attacked by a large group of VC Feb 2, 1968. When these men were first spotted streaming across Newport Bridge they were thought to be ARVN. It was only when they turned their weapons on the Newport Security troops that they learned what was going on.

The kids at Newport utilized the hulls of retrograde APC's for shelter and began fighting back. Eventually the VC attack on Newport was repulsed, many of the dead VC dumped over the bridge into the river and the rest running away. There was one death of a Newport defender.

I was in 'Nam that night on an Oriental Exporters C4, but we were tied up at the ARVN dock, Pier 1 Saigon. My Oiler and I just off the 1600-2400 port watch were standing out on deck forward of the after house at midnight.

We remarked to each other that the mosquito's were really bad that night as we slapped at the buzzing alongside our ears. When suddenly we realized that what we were hearing flying by our ears were not mosquitoes. Rounds were flying aboard from out of the night from the offshore side.

My Oiler and I dropped to the deck and crawled as low as we could go to a nearby engine room escape trunk and the two of us piled down that ladder as fast as we could.

I attach a collage of nine of many, many ship pictures submitted by these folks. That first picture top left taken by a GI, of Newport with a ship arriving just at dusk, is now my machine Wallpaper.

I also attach four scans of what you will find on this site. These were submitted by individuals who served in these US Army groups. You will also see pictures of some of these guys today as they hold regular reunions around the USA. They sell shirts and jackets with insignia on them.

I spent the bulk of Monday and Tuesday November 22 & 23 looking at this site and I have not yet seen all of it. Take a look you may even find a picture of your ship or yourself.

Greg Hayden

howardws
24th November 2010, 21:27
As 5th Engineer I went up the river to Saigon on the Texaco Saigon, a jumboised T2, in 1967. We ran a main motor bearing and had to change it at sea just off the coast of Vietnam. Unfortunately it had been clamped to the bulkhead for about 23 years and had spread. It took a lot of filing to make it fit!

Next trip there was as Fourth Engineer on the Texaco Glasgow when I earned enough war bonus to buy a radio in Singapore. It was stolen the next time in Saigon!

I can remember a biggish gun going off every few minutes during the night, Jolly Green Giants straffing the paddy fields by the light of parachute flares, the Second Mate coming down at about 02.00, pointing out that the tank farm was on fire and suggesting that I might like to make ready for sea (apparently the result of the VC firing 70mm recoiless rifle shells in the farm), coming back the next trip and finding the jetty had been blown up and a sad looking wreck of a cargo ship aground after a hold explosion. All for 5 days extra pay each trip. We believed at the time that the American ships went on double pay as they left the US west coast.

kewl dude
25th November 2010, 06:09
"We believed at the time that the American ships went on double pay as they left the US west coast."

No.

Only when reaching the zone, which was just a few miles off the 'Nam coast. Running the 'Nam coast wise was all in the zone as were the ports. Attached relevant pages from June 16, 1969-June 15, 1972 MEBA Contract.

Note that regardless of the number of vessel or harbor attacks a ship suffered only ONE relevant attack bonus was paid per VOYAGE. And when we paid off that $300 vessel attack bonus was paid separately at pay off with $196 withheld for taxes resulting in $104 paid. This is the Tanker agreement but the Dry Cargo agreement was identical on this issue.

Watch standers Base Pay was 100% in the zone, non watch standers add the proper amount to realize the amount.

Whoopee no one was going to get rich quick.

Greg Hayden

howardws
25th November 2010, 09:07
I'm glad that I didn't have the energy to be upset about the unfairness of it all at the time!

Billieboy
25th November 2010, 10:18
Thanks Greg, at last I know, that I wasn't missing much.

jep1916
1st February 2014, 14:38
I was 3/E on board the British Beech in 1968 and we took Jet Fuel from the Gulf, ( not sure where ), to a place called Sattahip in Thailand as there was a large US Air Force base near there, which I think was called Uthorn. We loaded the fuel under the supervision of the US Navy, called into Singapore to have the fuel tested and then discharged it under the supervision of the US Army. I well remember a Sargent Lewis from one of the Carolinas who was in charge and he made good use of the home made bar we had built. So much so, that we had to pour him into his jeep at the end of his shift. When he came back the next day he was no longer a Sargent !!
There was a nightclub nearby which I think was called the Swan Lake and I remember having a great night in there. There was a local band singing Beetles songs and they sung Hey Jude so well that I offered to buy them all a beer, only to find out that couldn't speak a word of English.

twogrumpy
1st February 2014, 16:50
U-Tapao was the airbase, if you Google it there is a lot of info and images.
Was taken up to the airbase by a couple of the Yanks, what a sight with all the B52's ligned up.
Later we were slung out of a bar by a military policeman, I am 6'3" and I reckon he was a good foot taller and built like a brick outhouse, I tried to plead that we were English and did not come under their jurisdiction, needless to say we left as instructed.

2G