U.S. Naval Support Activity Cua Viet (1967-1970)
The furthest north of the Navy’s 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 detachment’s 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As the South Vietnamese began to take over a greater combat role in the war, U.S. forces were withdrawn from such forward areas as the DMZ.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 By the end of the year, all U.S. forces at Cua Viet had been withdrawn to Da Nang.