“Support for the Fleet”
The U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Service Force Ships that served in Vietnam, 1965-1973
By: CDR David D. Bruhn, USN (Retired)
Painting by Richard DeRosset, depicting a Viet Cong swimmer-sapper mining attack on the tank landing ship USS Westchester County (LST-1167), on 1 November 1968, in which the U.S. Navy suffered it greatest loss of life in a single incident, as a result of enemy action, during the entire Vietnam War.
During the Vietnam War, 136 U.S. Navy and three Royal Australian Navy Service Force ships served in Vietnam. It was not glamorous duty, and the men who toiled aboard the ships received little recognition. It wouldn’t make good reading in Des Moines that the warships on the gunline could not fire their guns, or that carriers on Yankee and Dixie stations could not fly airstrikes against the enemy. Were it not for the sweat, heat, fatigue, and boredom endured by sailors serving in mostly old ships from World War II, that would have been the headline. These ships delivered food, fuel, ammunition, and critical supplies to the destroyers on the gunline, riverine craft patrolling inland waterways, and aircraft carriers, as well as ferrying troops in and out of the war zone, and those needing medical attention to the care of Navy Nurses on hospital ships. These brave men and their ships were often targeted by the Viet Cong specifically because they enabled the Allied forces to hold off the enemy and defend the freedom of the South Vietnamese people. In every war and military engagement, the front lines depend on replenishment. These are the people responsible for maintaining those in harm’s way, putting themselves in danger to do so. This book, a companion to On the Gunline and Gators Offshore and Upriver, highlights the herculean efforts of the Service Force, whose vital contributions “on the line” have been largely overlooked by historians. Two hundred fifty-two photographs; maps and diagrams; appendices; a bibliography; and an index to full-names, places and subjects add value to this work.
Support for the Fleet 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