The furthest north of the Navyís bases in Vietnam, Cua
Viet was under mortar, rocket, and ground attack for most of the war by the
North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Because of its location on the Cua Viet River
that skirted the boundary of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the base was
uniquely situated to provide fuel, ammunition, administration, supplies, and
construction materials to Marine and Army combat forces.
In March 1967, the Da Nang NSA Detachment Cua Viet was established to
augment the efforts of the nearby base at Dong Ha. Together, Cua Viet and
Dong Ha provided logistical support to American and allied units operating
around the DMZ area. Cua Viet acted as a trans-shipment point for supplies
headed for Dong Ha. The detachmentís work was made difficult not only by
enemy fire but by the physical environment. Winds and rains of the winter
monsoons were particularly harsh at Cua Viet. Outside the river mouth,
shoals endangered ships making the 90 nautical mile trip from Da Nang.
Crossing the bar was made difficult by shifting sand bars (solved by
continuous dredging) and enemy direct fire weapons. In March 1967, the USS
Caroline County (LST-525) became the first major naval vessel to enter the
river and tie up at Cua Viet. USS Snohomish County (LST-1126) followed her
sister ship to Cua Viet and became the second ocean-going visitor.
The 61-man detachment at Cua Viet gradually improved living conditions at
the base. At first, the LST ramp consisted of one steel mat for off-load of
supplies. By the end of the year, a more permanent soil and cement hardened
landing area was in place. The detachment increased the efficiency of the
ship-to-shore fuel line and the tank storage facility. Tankers discharged
fuel at Cua Viet that was then transferred to LCM-8 landing craft with fuel
bladders for further transport to Dong Ha. The Cua Viet detachment also
operated a small boat repair facility and cargo staging area.
As the South Vietnamese began to take over a greater combat role in the war,
U.S. forces were withdrawn from such forward areas as the DMZ. Task Force
CLEARWATER headquarters and a number of river patrol boats redeployed to Tan
My in February 1970. At the same time, NSA Da Nang, Detachment Cua Viet was
disestablished and became an ATSB for limited support of naval units. By the
end of the year, all U.S. forces at Cua Viet had been withdrawn to Da Nang.