| USS SNOHOMISH COUNTY LST-1126
1968 TO 1969 DEPLOYMENT
Contributed by Snohomish County Commanding Officer LT. Jim Wilson,
Now retired Commander USN
NIGHT ENTRY AT CUA VIET, VIETNAM
When we started our supply support from Da Nang to Cua Viet, sapper activity had closed Cua Viet to night operations. Only day entry was allowed with departure before dark. About three months into our tour, we were ordered to recommence night entries. The Navy "pilot" who knew the day-to-day condition of the channel boarded the ship offshore and assured us he had lighted the buoys marking the left side of the channel. Weather was clear and the seas were moderate - we started our entry.
As we passed the first buoy close to port, we suddenly found ourselves aground at the surf line!! Our "pilot" had gotten turned around and the lighted buoys were actually on the right side of the channel!! Without the benefit of a stern anchor out, all we had for ship control to avoid broaching were the rudders and engines!! It didn't take much to envision the ship sideways in the surf. There was also the complication of the buoy anchoring wire fouling the port screw as it was very close aboard at the stern of the ship. Fortunately, pusher boats were able to respond from shore quickly and assist in stern control while we backed off the sand bar. Believe me, there were some white knuckles on the bridge that night!
After clearing the channel and regrouping, we completed the channel transit with no further problems - leaving the lighted buoys well to starboard!
Footnote: SAPPERS were Vietcong swimmers who would swim out to ships in the harbors and rivers, and place timed plastic bombs on the hulls. One LST was hit this way with a number of shipmates killed.