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Back to the Cold War (1946-1989) Message Board. [3], Despite their best efforts to control VC activities across the river in the Thu Thiem area, the South Vietnamese military and police could not stop VC agents from operating there. [2], Card while in service with the United States Navy, From 1961 onwards, Card and USNS Core regularly docked in Saigon to unload heavy artillery, M113 armored personnel carriers, aircraft, helicopters and ammunition for the South Vietnamese government. Adapted from Chaplain Bell interview in box 2 of World War II Interviews, Archives, Naval History and Heritage Command. [1], With the escalation of the Vietnam War, the United States government stepped up military support for South Vietnam's fight against the Viet Cong. He advised Nao that the best way to enter the area where the American ships normally anchored, was through the sewer tunnel opposite Thu Thiem. This page was last modified on 15 April 2016, at 18:56. May 2 Vietnam War: Attack on USNS Card – An explosion caused by Viet Cong commandos causes carrier USNS Card to sink in the port of Saigon. [11] After that Nao stuck the battery onto a pole and connected it to the bombs with wires, then set the timer. It took place in the port of Saigon in the early hours of May 2, 1964, and mounted by commandos from the 65th Special Operations Group (Đội Biệt động 65). military. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page. The aftermath of the attack on the Card rallied American rescue and salvage crews to deal with a severe crisis. Nao’s father had previously worked at the port facility as a tradesman, so he memorised all the underground tunnels and sewerage systems which ran in and out of the facility. On December 15, 1961, the USNS Card left Quonset Point, Rhode Island, with a cargo of H-21 Shawnee helicopters and U.S. soldiers from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, bound for Vietnam. [1] On November 11, 1943, the Card and her escort destroyers were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their success as part of TG21.14, and the Card became the first escort carrier to receive such an award for combating German submarines. The ship was reactivated on 16 May 1958 as USNS Card and operated with a civilian crew under Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) control as an aircraft transport. [8], When Nao received news the Card had arrived in Saigon, he inspected the equipment which now included a new battery and a redesigned bomb. For more details on sinking of the USNS Card, see Attack on the USNS Card. To ensure that his operation would go smoothly, Nao measured the height, length and width of the sewer tunnel to assemble the bomb devices to the right size, so it could be carried through the tunnel unhindered. [9] After that Nao stuck the battery onto a pole and connected it to the bombs with wires, then set the timer. [6] Towards the end of 1963, Nao received news that the Card had arrived in Saigon with another load of armoured personnel carriers, artillery and aircraft. On 2 May 1964, while moored dockside in Saigon, a North Vietnamese frogman, Lam Son Nao, planted an explosive charge that blew a hole in the hull. Areas … The USNS Card had been shuttling heavy equipment into Saigon Harbour for three years – aircraft, armoured vehicles and the like. Undeterred by the level of protection which the South Vietnamese government normally afforded to American ships, Tran Hai Phung—commander of the Viet Cong’s Saigon-Gia Dinh Military District—ordered the 65th Special Operations Group to attack the USNS Card. [5] As usual, Card docked at the commercial port district in the city to unload another shipment of cargo and military helicopters, as well as load a cargo of helicopters scheduled to be returned to the United States. After Nao had surveyed the tunnels which led into the port, he presented his plan of attack to the Saigon-Gia Dinh Military District Headquarters. [16] The U.S. Navy refused to admit the Card had been sunk even for a brief period of time, instead it simply stated the Card was damaged and quickly repaired. WASHINGTON (Jan. 15, 2021) A graphic illustration of the future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Silversides (SSN 807). On December 15, 1961, USNS Card left Quonset Point, Rhode Island, with a cargo of H-21 Shawnee helicopters and U.S. soldiers from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, bound for Vietnam. Furthermore, five American civilians who worked on the ship died as a result of the attack. [3] To facilitate the arrival of Card and other American ships which pulled into Saigon, the South Vietnamese military often deployed navy vessels to conduct patrols around the port, while the surrounding shores were protected by an elite Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Airborne battalion. The ship was manned by a civilian crew and was prefixed "USNS" (United States Naval Ship) instead of "USS" (United States Ship) as it was in service but not commissioned. The USNS Card was a Bogue class escort carrier that had served in the United States Navy with distinction. The ship was reactivated on 16 May 1958 as USNS Card and operated with a civilian crew under Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) control as an aircraft transport. Two of the WWII CVEs in particular, USNS Card (T-AKV-40 / ex-CVE-11) and USNS Core (T-AKV-41 / ex-CVE-13) were heavily involved in the Vietnam War. The aftermath of the attack on the Card rallied American rescue and salvage crews to deal with a severe crisis. Nao concluded that the tunnel would provide the best way to get in and out of the American area, but using it also presented challenges. [3], On one occasion while he was bathing in the Saigon River, Nao decided to inspect the sewer tunnel, which his father had advised him to use. It was about 5,000 yards in front of the ship so that the men of the crew, of the [escort aircraft carrier USS] Card [CVE-11], could … [6] Determined the operation would remain a secret, the commandos snuck back to the Core and retrieved the explosive devices. The attack was a success and Card sank 48 feet (15 m), and five civilian crew members were killed by the explosions. The South Vietnamese police patrol boat than started its engine and raced towards the Card, instead of extracting another bribe. ... During the Phase III Offensive the Division's 1st Regiment was sent to attack Quảng Ngãi, but were intercepted by US forces and after 4 days of fighting the 1st Regiment withdrew west to its mountain bases leaving 567 dead. Not long afterwards, Core and its crew sailed out of Saigon, intact without any damage. [2], After 1945 the Card was decommissioned and briefly put out of service when it was transferred to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Both men then pulled over in the Thu Thiem area, to avoid detection from South Vietnamese authorities by intermingling with the local workers who lived there. Decommissioned in 1945, Card was reactivated in 1958 and entered service with the Military Sea Transport Service, transporting military equipment to South Vietnam as part of the United States military commitment to that country. Meanwhile, the tug boat USS Tawakoni based at Subic Bay in the Philippines was placed on standby, and later received similar orders to head for South Vietnam. Both men than pulled over in the Thu Thiem area, to avoid detection from South Vietnamese authorities by intermingling with the local workers who lived there. On the evening of December 29, 1963, Nao and Cay managed to carry their bomb devices through the sewer tunnel which had about 80 kilograms (180 lb) of explosives. Lyndon Johnson wanted to keep the results of the attack as quiet as possible. [16] Card was returned to service by December 11, 1964 and remained in service until 1970, when she was placed into the Reserve Fleet. The ship’s crew were meant to treat trauma patients, allowing hospitals to concentrate on people suffering from COVID-19. Ultimately it took the salvors 17 days to refloat Card, and when that was completed they began the process of moving the ship out of Saigon by installing a 6-inch pump and a load of generators inside Card to get rid of excess water while at sea. Lam Son Nao, a commando of the 65th Special Operations Group, was also an employee at the port facility. After the bombs had been attached to the Card’s hull, Nao inspected both bombs to ensure they had been assembled properly. The Attack on the USNS Card was a Viet Cong operation during the Vietnam War. Five Navy divers investigated damage to Card. [18] The Card was returned to service by 11 December 1964 and remained in service until 1970, when she was placed into the Reserve Fleet. Their target was the largest American ship in port, USNS Card. [4], From 1961 onwards, the Card and the USNS Core regularly docked in Saigon to unload heavy artillery, M-113 armored personnel carriers, aircraft, helicopters and ammunition for the South Vietnamese government. Ultimately it took the salvors 17 days to refloat the Card, and when that was completed they began the process of moving the ship out of Saigon by installing a 6-inch pump and a load of generators inside the Card to get rid of excess water while at sea. On July 15, 1943, the Card was reclassified CVE-11 and became the flagship of Task Group 21.14 (TG21.14), a hunter-killer group formed to destroy German submarines in the North Atlantic. It took place in the port of Saigon in the early hours of May 2, 1964, and mounted by commandos from the 65th Special Operations Group. Mounted by commandos from the 65th Special Operations Group . Nao decided to utilise high explosives, enough to sink a ship, and detonate it using a timer so that his men could get away safely. [13] Amongst the divers was founding US Navy Seals member Roy Boehm, who claimed to have recovered the remains of a Hagerson Demolition Pack, a specialised explosive charge used by US navy frogmen. USNS Card in Saigon Port after the attack. As a regular visitor to the port, Card became a target for local VC commando units. The USNS Card had been shuttling heavy equipment into Saigon Harbour for three years – aircraft, armoured vehicles and the like. The sewerage tunnel contained both wastes and toxic oils which could cause blindness, so Nao and his men would have to close their eyes as they move through the tunnel, in order to avoid blindness. [6], However, the bombs failed to explode as planned, because the battery had expired due to long periods of storage. It illustrated how vulnerable naval vessels can be even when faced with a low-tech enemy … and how difficult maintaining port security can be in a war with no real front. On December 15, 1961, the Card left Quonset Point, Rhode Island, with a cargo of H-21 Shawnee helicopters and U.S. soldiers from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, bound for Vietnam. [7] In response, Nao claimed that he and Hung intended to go to the other side of the river, to buy some new clothes at the market. [7] By the time the sun rose over Saigon, Card had settled 48 feet (15 m) into the river with its engine compartment completely flooded. On May 16, 1958, Card re-entered service with the Military Sea Transport Service, under the control of the United States Navy. When the patrol boat commander received the bribe, he gave both Nao and Hung permission to move on but demanded another bribe when they return. Nao then ordered Hung to throw the hand grenade and both men would retreat towards the local village, if their bombs were discovered by the police. Nao also trained new commandos, namely Nguyen Phu Hung and Nguyen Van Cay, to support his operation. It took place in the port of Saigon in the early hours of May 2, 1964, and mounted by commandos from the 65th Special Operations Group (Đội Biệt động 65). When the commandos arrived at the sewer tunnel, they assembled the bomb device with each man carrying 40 kilograms (88 lb) of explosives down through the tunnel. The spectre of the attack on the Card would rear its head again in October, 2000, when 17 sailors lost their lives when the USS Cole (DDG-67) was attacked by al-Qæda suicide bombers while in port at Aden, Yemen. An inspection later revealed that the explosion had torn open a hole which measured 12 feet (3.7 m) long and 3 feet (0.91 m) high, on the starboard side of the ship. But the carrier turned out to be her sister ship, USNS Core. Again, the police patrol boat was waiting for Nao and Hung to arrive, because the commander wanted another bribe. [17] For the remainder of 1964, the Viet Cong launched further attacks on U.S. targets such as the Brinks Hotel and Bien Hoa Air Base, but there were no significant responses from the U.S. [13] Upon their arrival in Saigon, U.S. Navy divers and salvage teams tried to pump water out from the Card’s flooded compartments, but their initial attempts were hindered by a combination of malfunctions in the pumping equipment, and the poor diving conditions in the river. Vietnam War For more details on sinking of the USNS Card, see Attack on the USNS Card. At 1.10am, the bombs were completed and both commandos retreated back into the sewer tunnel, and climbed into their canoes on the other side and rowed back to Thu Thiem. … The American brass and Pres. There had been an earlier attempted attack on the Core, in late 1963, which had failed but the IEDs had actually been … Card … While waiting for the right time, Nao briefed Hung on the objectives of the operation, which was to sink the largest American ship at the Saigon Port, and promptly report the results back to headquarters. At top — ‘Card’ in 1944. So Viet Cong members of the 65th Special Operations Group were able to watch U.S. and South Vietnamese military activities at the port, while they were preparing to attack American targets. The attack was a success and the Card sank 48 feet, and five civilian crew members were killed by the explosions. [3] With the war's escalation, the United States government stepped up military support for South Vietnam's fight against the Communist National Liberation Front (also known as the Viet Cong). [12] Due to the rapid response from the ship’s crew and the local authorities, flooding inside the ship was quickly stopped and it was stabilized. The South Vietnamese security guard in front has a WWII-era M1918 BAR.) The police patrol stopped about 20 meters (66 ft) away from Nao's canoe, and the patrol boat commander questioned both men about their activities during that time of the evening. If you look at Mr. Ahmad’s answer it is exhaustive in its detail. Reclassified on August 20, 1942 as an Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier, (ACV-11); then re-designated on July 15, 1943 as an Escort Carrier, … The ship was reactivated on 16 May 1958 as USNS Card and operated with a civilian crew under Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) control as an aircraft transport. The Card’s hull was laid down on October 27, 1941; originally intended as a cargo ship, the ship was reclassified ACV-11 and converted into an escort carrier with a displacement of 9,800 tons. The port itself was guarded round the clock by South Vietnamese police, as undercover South Vietnamese agents operated across the river in the Thu Thiem area to disrupt Viet Cong activities there. U.S. Navy photo. [6] Furthermore, Nao and his men must wash their bodies to get rid of the deadly odours to avoid detection, and probably arrest, by South Vietnamese authorities. Shortly after midnight on May 2, 1964, two Viet Cong commandos climbed out of the sewer tunnel near the area where Card was anchored, and they attached two loads of explosives to the ship's hull. Again, Nao decided to set off the bombs during the early hours of May 2, so that he and his fellow operative could escape safely and avoid inflicting casualties on the local population. Reclaimer and Tawakoni then towed the damaged Card out of Saigon, and headed for Subic Bay where it underwent further repairs.[13]. 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