U.S. Naval Support Activity An Thoi (1965-1971)
Of all the Navy’s bases in South Vietnam, An Thoi, on the southern tip of Phu Quoc Island in the Gulf of Siam, was the most isolated. Almost 1000 miles from Subic Bay, it taxed the seventh Fleet’s mobile logistic support force during the Vietnam War. Still naval leaders recognized early the strategic value of the site: from there the naval forces could readily interdict sea infiltration of communist men and supplies from Cambodia. Another favorable consideration was the availability to American units of real estate near the Vietnamese Navy’s existing compound.
Consequently in the summer of 1965 An Thoi was selected as a Coastal Surveillance Force Combat and logistical base. Due to the Navy’s shortage of suitable vessels, the Coast Guard was called upon to initiate the patrol operations in that area. Coast Guard Division 11, with Nine 82-foot cutters (WPBs), began Market Time coastal patrol operations from An Thoi that July. Subsequently the unit was joined by U.S. naval forces employing fast patrol craft (PCF) And a gunboat of the Royal Thai navy. In addition, a coastal surveillance command center was established to control operations in the sector.
While the Naval Support Activity, Saigon, Detachment An Thoi, worked to improve berthing, messing, supply, repair, transportation, security, and other support for the combat units, the fleet provided additional assistance. Repair ships Krishna (ARL-38) and Tutuila (ARG-4) and berthing and messing barges APL-21 and APL-55 were deployed to the site at various times from 1965 to 1969. Although new base facilities and a contractor built 3,500-foot airstrip eased logistic problems, An Thoi continued to require much fleet support.
By May 1971, however, when the An Thoi Logistic Support Base was turned over to the Vietnamese Navy as part of the Vietnamization program, the installation furnished major overhaul services for river and coastal combat craft and supplied a number of smaller U.S. bases in the Gulf of Siam region.