“On the Gunline”

The U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy Warships off Vietnam, 1965-1973

By: CDR David D. Bruhn, USN (Retired) and STGCS Richard S. Mathews (Retired)

During the Vietnam War, 270 U.S. Navy and four Royal Australian Navy warships served at various times on the gunline. Within this armada were the battleship New Jersey, ten cruisers, 212 destroyers, fifty destroyer escorts, and the inshore fire support ship Carronade. When necessary, naval guns poured out round after round, until their barrels overheated and turned red, exterior paint blistered, and rifled-barrel liners were worn smooth. Allied troops locked in battle with North Vietnamese Army or Viet Cong troops in South Vietnam were grateful for artillery support from the sea. When North Vietnam launched the Easter Offensive across the DMZ in 1972, eight to ten ships in line, abreast, often firing simultaneously and around the clock, delivered desperately needed fire support. At one point, over forty cruisers and destroyers were serving together on the gunline. Warships conducting SEA DRAGON and LINEBACKER operations – naval bombardment of military targets along the coast of North Vietnam – came under fire on a number of occasions. Runs in to within five miles of a hostile shore, to strike Vinh, Haiphong, and other targets, often preceded duels with shore batteries. Most such action occurred at mission completion as ships zigzagged, while racing seaward at high speed to clear the coast, to throw off the aim of enemy gunners. This book highlights the grit, determination, and heroism of young men – many who would likely have preferred the laid-back lifestyle of the 1960s, were it not for their country’s call to arms.


David Bruhn

On the Gunline is now available online from Heritage Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.
This book is a companion to On the Gunline.
If you wish, you may learn more about these, and my other books at: www.davidbruhn.com