ORDER of BATTLE
Submitted by Richard A. Rinaldi © 1999
The Vietnamese Navy grew from 18,000 men in the fall of 1968 to 32,000 men at
the end of 1970. By 1973 the Navy had 42,000 men and 1500 ships, boats and other
The RVN Navy River Force began with naval assault divisions ("dinassaut"),
on the French model, which were restyled River Assault Groups (RAG). The 21st
to 26th were each organized with one command boat, one monitor, five
armored LCMs, six armored LCVPs, and six patrol boats (19 vessels). The 27th
had one command boat, one monitor, six armored LCMs, and 10 river patrol craft.
Each had about 150 personnel.
- The command boat, was a modified LCM [Landing Craft, Medium], armed
with two 20mm cannon, two .30 and two .50 caliber machine-guns, and one
- A monitor was also a modified LCM, with one 40mm and two 20mm cannons,
a .50 caliber machine-gun, and an 81mm mortar. The 40mm cannon was in a
semi-enclosed turret in the front.
- The basic armored LCM (LCM6) had three 20mm cannons and two .50
caliber machine-guns, along with a crew of seven. It could carry 120
troops or 32 tons of cargo.
- The armored LCVP [Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel] had one 20mm
cannon and three .30 caliber machine-guns. It could carry 36 troops or
3.5 tons of cargo.
- The STCAN/FOM patrol boat (a French design) had a crew of eight, one
.50 caliber and three .30 caliber machine-guns.
- The river patrol craft (RPC) used in the 27th RAG had two
twin .50 caliber and one .30 caliber machine-gun, and could move at 14
knots as opposed to the 10 knots of the STCAN/FOM patrol boat.
The River Force also included a River Transport Escort Group (RTEG) and a
River Transport Group (RTG). The RTEG had four monitors, six STCAN/FOM patrol
boats, and 20 armored LCVPs. The RTG had seven LCUs [Landing Craft, Utility; a
LCU had two 20mm cannon].
Additional craft were provided, so that by early 1968, six new RAGs (28th
Ė 33rd) were formed, although with 11 rather than 19 craft. The 27th
RAG, however, was increased to 22 craft. The dispositions at that point were:
- 21st RAG My Tho
- 22nd RAG Saigon
- 23rd RAG Vinh Long
- 24th RAG Tan An
- 25th RAG Can Tho
- 26th RAG Long Xuyen
- 27th RAG Saigon
- 28th RAG Saigon
- 29th RAG Can Tho
- 30th RAG Saigon
- 31st RAG Vinh Long
- 32nd RAG Long Xuyen redeployed to Thau Thien (north of
Hue) Jul 1968
- 33rd RAG My Tho
River Patrol Group 51 was formed in Jun 1968, containing the first eight PBRs
[Patrol Boat, River] turned over by the U.S. Navy; it was assigned duty on the
Long Tau and Dong Nai rivers.
- A PBR, built of fiberglass, had a top speed of 25 knots and was armed with
two .50 caliber machine-guns in the front and a .30 caliber machine-gun aft.
From 1968 to 1970, the RAGs were grouped into riverine assault interdiction
divisions (RAIDs) and river patrol groups (RPGs). These forces continued to
receive additional equipment, especially that used by departing U.S. Navy
- By Dec 1970, for example, the USN transferred to Vietnam 293 PBRs and 224
riverine assault craft.
The South Vietnamese Navy also had a Sea Force (renamed 1 Jan 1966 as the
Fleet Command). There were four naval zones, with a varying mix of patrol craft
(PC), patrol motor gunboats, and coastal minesweepers (totals of seven, 48, and
12, respectively?), along with 12 motor launch minesweepers. The Sea Force also
had five LSSLs [Landing Ship Support, Large] and six LSILs [Landing Ship
Infantry, Large], of which two and five, respectively, were kept in Mekong
waterways. Supply was handled by three LSTs [Landing Ship, Tank] and seven LSMs.
- An LSSL had a 3" gun, three twin 40mm guns, and four 20mm guns.
- An LSIL could carry 12 tons of cargo or 76 troops, but was normally used
for command and fire support on the rivers.
- An LST carried eight 40mm guns.
With the redesignation to Fleet Command, the force was reorganized along
- Flotilla I had Squadron 11 (submarine chasers [PC] and escorts), Squadron
13 (motor gunboats), Squadron 15 (LSSLs), and Squadron 17 (minesweepers).
- Flotilla II had squadrons 22 and 24 (landing ships, landing craft, coastal
oilers, and other logistic support vessels).
From 1965 to 1968 Fleet Command added three more LSSLs, eight PGMs, and 6
There was also a Coastal Force, with a variety of motorized and un-motorized
junks. This declined in use and strength over time.
Vietnamese Navy Operational Commands, Jul 1970
- Task Fleet 21: (SEALORDS Operations)
- Task Force 210: Special
- Task Force 211: Amphibious
- Task Force 212: Tran Hung Dao I
- Task Force 213: Coastal
- Task Force 214: Giant Slingshot
- Task Force 215: Fleet Command
- Task Force 216: Ready Deck
- Task Force 217: 4th Riverine Area
- Task Fleet 22: (Non-(SEALORDS Operations)
- Task Force 221: 1st Coastal Zone
- Task Force 222: 2nd Coastal Zone
- Task Force 223: 3rd Coastal Zone
- Task Force 224: 4th Coastal Zone
- Task Force 225: 3rd Riverine Area
- Task Force 226: 4th Riverine Area
- Task Force 227: Rung Sat Special Zone
- Task Force 228: Capital Military District
The departing U.S. Navy turned over many of its craft to the RVN Navy. River
and patrol craft in the RVN Navy included:
- 26 Coast Guard patrol boats (WPB)
- 108 Swift inshore coastal patrol boats
- 293 river patrol boats (PBR)
- 84 assault support patrol boats (ASPB)
- 42 monitors Mk 5 [built as such in 1969]
- 22 monitors [modified LCM 6]
- 100 armored troop carriers [modified LCM 6]
- 8 command and control boats (CCB)
- 27 river patrol craft
Other vessels included:
- 1 DER radar picket (twin 76.2mm guns, two 81mm mortars, two 12.7mm machine
guns) transferred Sep 1971
- 1 ex-USCG vessel (127mm gun, two 81mm mortars) transferred 1971
- 2 fleet minesweepers (twin 57mm AA, twin 37mm AA, three twin 23mm AA)
transferred 1962 and Jun 1970
- 18 PGM patrol boats (40mm AA, two twin 20mm AA, two twin 12.7mm machine
- 1 or more fire-support gunboats (LSSL [Landing Ship Support, Large])
- 8 MSB-5 minesweeping boats transferred 1970
- 8 MSR riverine minesweepers built 1970 (mine warfare version of ASPB)
- 8 river minesweepers (MSM: Minesweeping Monitor) transferred 1970
- 3 LSTís transferred 1962, Jul 1969 and Apr 1970 (twin 40mm AA, 4/5 20mm
AA, four .50-caliber machine guns)
- 14 LCU 1466-class (two twin 20mm AA; 167-ton cargo capacity) transferred
- 1 LCU 501 class (two twin 20mm AA; 150-ton cargo capacity) transferred