U.S. Naval Support Activity Dong Ha (1967-1970)
Located several miles south of the DMZ, Dong Ha was exposed to more North Vietnamese attacks than any other naval activity. The site, on the south bank of the Cua Viet River, was within range of NVA rockets, artillery, and mortars. Sappers often tested the perimeter defenses of the base. During August and September 1967 alone, enemy fire destroyed thirteen 10,000-gallon fuel storage bladders and an ammunition dump. In addition, enemy swimmers and water mines inflicted damage to craft tied up to the piers and craft transiting the river. Because of Dong Ha’s strategic river position and Republic of Vietnam’s major north-south highway Route 1, the risks were considered justified. Logistics support for American and allied forces fighting near the DMZ was absolutely essential.
In late 1966, LCU and YFU landing craft brought building materials, fuel, ammunition, and supplies 90 nautical miles from Da Nang to the mouth of the Cua Viet River and to a site 8 miles up river at Dong Ha. However, these landing craft proved no match for the northeast monsoon. The difficulty of crossing the bar at the river’s mouth made further development a necessity. The NSA Da Nang created detachments at Dong Ha and Cua Viet. A dredge was brought in to keep the Cua Viet River mouth free of sand bars so that the larger landing craft could get in to Cua Viet. The LSMs and LSTs would come to Cua Viet where their cargo would be off-loaded to LCM-8 landing craft for the short but dangerous trip to Dong Ha.
For the remainder of 1967, the 35-man NSA Detachment at Dong Ha brought in artillery guns, construction materials, airfield building supplies, and equipment for the base at Quang Tri. By November 1967, the detachment was handling 72,500 tons of supplies of all kinds a month. Seabees built two landing sites for the LCMs, LCUs, and barges. This capability was a boon for Army and Marine units during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Dong Ha’s logistic capabilities provided the needed margin of victory for these units. In February 1970, the Dong Ha detachment was disestablished and the facilities were turned over to the South Vietnamese in November in 1970.