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History of BSU-1

Boat Support Unit ONE was originally established by the Chief of Naval Operations on 1 February 1964 as a component command of Naval Operations Support Group, Pacific. Its mission was to administer the newly reinstated Patrol Torpedo Fast (PTF) Boat Program and to operate high-speed craft in support of Naval Special Warfare operations, primarily in conjunction with the Underwater Demolition Team and SEAL Units. The mission was soon expanded to include all aspects of riverine and restricted water warfare.

The PTF program grew rapidly, beginning with four "Nasty Class" PTFs in the fall of 1964. Crews attended schools in the San Diego area, then deployed to Subic Bay, Philippines, to put their boats in service and prepare for operational commitments. As a result of events in the Tonkin Gulf, there was a great demand for simulated PTF type attacks, and Boat Support Unit ONE was tasked with providing such services.


In September 1965, Boat Support Unit ONE implemented the original training for PCF (Swift) crews in underway boat operations for duty as part of the MARKET TIME patrol in Vietnam, using eight Swift Boats. On 1 July 1971, Boat Support Unit ONE and its mission broadened to encompass coastal/riverine patrol and interdiction.

The command was instrumental in the development and evaluation of a wide variety of small boat projects. These included the Landing Craft Swimmer Recovery Vessel; Coastal Patrol and Interdiction Craft; Swimmer Delivery Vehicle, Auxiliary, which continues to serve as a mother ship for SEAL Swimmer Delivery Vehicle diving operations; and the FLAGSTAFF (PGH-1), one of the Navy's first operational hydrofoils.

Read this comprehensive timeline of the changes from BSU-1 to the present organization compiled by GMCM Jim Gray (SWCC) Ret.


The LCSR at BSU-1

10-05-06 Randy Miller      I was stationed with Boat Support Unit One at the Amphib Base in San Diego from 1965-1968. During that time I served as part of the 4 member boat crew on the LCSR. We had about 6-7 of them. It was a 52 ft fiber glass boat with twin 1,000 hp Solar gas turbine engines twin screw shaft drive.


John Woody - Bob and All, What about the LCSRs, the Uniflite Landing Craft Swimmer Recovery boat with Solar Gas Turbines. We had several at BSU-1 when I was there. I believe it was a 52 ft boat built on a cabin cruiser hull. They were fun for about an hour and half, and then you had to refuel.


Stephen Thomas - By the time I reported to BSU-1 at the end of 1968, all of the LCSR had been withdrawn from service and put up on blocks in the PhiBase boat storage lot, back in the furthest corner, as I recall. They were right up against the cyclone fence and clearly visible from the road as I headed into Coronado and the Mexican Village on Saturdays.


(04-31-2010)  Dave Wheeler - Escondido, CA. - A buddy and I purchased one of these LCSR's from San Diego DRMO and had a blast with it. It was tempermental though. We finally sold it and I dont know what became of it. Here are some photo that I had.

 

More LCSR info HERE

 

(added 02-16-2014) John Woody, Captain USN, RetiredI was assigned to BSU One in December 1965 as a Lt.

BSU One was deploying training operators to NSA De Nang for the Nasty PTF missions into North Vietnam, a CIA operation run by the Special Operating Group.  The tasks were to train “third party operators” in the operations of the Nasty PTF gun boats. 

I was immediately placed in OJT aboard PTF 13, the stateside PTF as XO.  An order had come down about the use of the “REDEYE” shoulder fired anti-air missile aboard the boats as they operated in the North.  PTF 13 was deployed to the Navy missile range at PT Magu.  This test resulted in test firing of 31 missiles with 30 drone hits. 

At the end of this test, I deployed to De Nang as Training Officer.  The Navy role here was the operation and mechanical support of the boats.  US personnel were not sent North on missions.  The crews I trained were Vietnamese.  Two operations I was part of stand out.  On the return of a mission one of the boats caught fire on the stern (by zeller).  The crew abandoned the boat just above Henan Island.  The Air Force was called to sink the boat.  They flew seven missions without finding it and called their search off at sun set.  We received an order to go north and sink it at night.  I was OIC of the lead boat and we with directly to it and found that the fire was out and the boat was still afloat.  We towed it back the base and loaded it out to our repair facility at Subic Bay. 

The second operation concerned a SEAL training operation in which two US SEALs were to take a Vietnamese unit onto the sand dune beach just south of Uhy.  I operated the lead boat and inserted the SEALs.  Just as they crossed the first sand dune, they ran into a North Vietnamese patrol.  The SEAL point was killed and the North Vietnamese patrol was wiped out.  The US SEAL leader and I loaded the KIA and we returned.  My first deployment ended at that time. 

BSU One was in the beginning of its deployments of Mobile Support Teams as boat operators for SEAL teams in the Delta Region of Vietnam. 

I returned to BSU One and was married.  Six weeks later, I was the only trained Team leader at the unit and deployed to MST Two at Bihn Thuy.  Here I was the third boat support OIC for this unit.  I did fifty nine missions with Richard Marcinco’s SEAL unit.  We were in twelve shooting extraction missions.  I was awarded a Bronze Star during this deployment. 

On return to BSU, I became XO.  We were involved with the PGH Hydrofoils testing during this period. 

I was released from active duty in 1968 and moved to Seattle to work for the Boeing Company Marine systems. 

I remained in the Navy Reserve and served in several capacities, some in Special Warfare. 

I retired from the Navy in 1991.  I served as President of Gamewardens of Vietnam Inc for ten years.

John Woody, San Antonio, TX. (210) 494 5684 jwoody@texas.net  


09-23-06 John Woody     Do not forget the Subic Det out of BSU-1. It was normally manned by one officer, and was the main supply/logistics route for repairs and parts for the MST-1 PTFs. The Napier repair facility was in Subic. We moved parts, boats, and engines in and out of Subic through the Subic Det. PTFs were normally shipped to Subic every six to eight months to dry the hulls out and get new engines. In 1967, when I was at MST-1, we got our first 500 hour Napier engine. Engine replacements were a big thing. The Enginemen never saw the inside of a Napier, only the clutch/transmission hydraulics connections and the engine mounts. The hulls were placed on a pier in Subic and dried out for six weeks or so. Those hulls would absorb about six tons of water during operations and the bilges would be dry. A fresh boat was really a great thing to operate.

We had several rotating CONEX boxes that we placed loose parts in for repair and return. When they were less than full on return, we used the space for San Miguel beer. The Marines at Da Nang Air Base loved it when we returned a CONEX box as we would open one and pass a few cases of San Miguel around. We never had a problem getting a C 130 flight in or out of
Da Nang.


04-21-03 - From Sean Tierney - I believe I reported aboard BSU-1 in March of 65'. I did my survival training in Hawaii in May and left for Vietnam in early June 65' as OIC for a training team.  I'll try to find my orders to see who was on the team. The old gas boats (2) were still there but in July or August we loaded them on an LSD for shipment home.  Later that summer my team went to Subic Bay to run the sea trials on two new boats. After the trials we loaded them on another LSD for shipment to DaNang.     More Here. . . (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)


08/27/01 - Joe Burks -  I rode PTF's,13 (very briefly), 22, and 21 boats out of NAB Coronado. Also spent a year in Craft Development Division of BSU1. Lots of memories of the boats although I am not sure which are real solid any more - been 30 odd years. More Here... More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

06/15/00 - Bryan Ellerman  I served with BSU1 from July '68 through June '69 as an ETR2. My tour in DaNang was from October '68 through April '69. I actually replaced Ralph McMillan in DaNang. Reading your Web Page brings back a lot of memories. I too, have many stories to tell but no pictures. More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

03-25-02 - Jerry Fifield  They weren't worried about me hurting someone else with that missile launcher, but them goats on San Clemente Island and that goddamn Mexican Patrol Boat that kept messing with us when we were fishing in the Coronado Islands were a threatened species. It was an old Navy minesweeper with a 3 inch single fire mount on the foredeck and he would shoot at you also. I pissed him off one day, showed him what speed and maneuverability was all about, ran circles and figure 8's around him at top speed, about 300 to 500 yards out . . . More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

08-21-01 - Richard Siebert (GMG-3)   When I got to BSU-1 and suffered at the hands of a GMGC, went to my assignment in the security field of the USN, the info was received in general conversation. As I remember, I seem to remember better than I can see, soon after arriving the Chief had us all together to reorganize. He had so many people in and out he wanted to realign so he had seniority back in line. He was telling us about all that had gone on during the inquest. I was there after all the testimony was finish but still was able to go to some of the social function they had for the family. It was either the Chief or a GMG2 by the name of Greene (from Barbados) in one of those sessions that talked of the PTFs. . . . More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

Jack Sudduth - My first PTF experience was with the 13 boat when we received it from England. Beautiful boat. Learned how to drive a PTF on that one. Came to love that boat and and will never forget it and the many wild adventures we had together.  Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

12-11-06  Charles (Chuck) L. Thoin      I was surfing the web and came across your web site. I reported for duty to Boat Support Unit One on 20 SEP 68 right out of Boot Camp across the bay. The CO was LCDR Russ Gleason. I had been classified as a Machinist Mate FN but when I
reported I was informed that BSU-1 needed EN's not MM's.    Read More Here

Bill Bremmer - I was at BSU-1 from early 1970 until my discharge in June 1971, and I deployed with MST Two Detachment Golf in September 1970 returning in March 1971.  We operated an MSSC and LSSC out of Long Phu across from what was called Dung Island near where the Bassac goes into the South China Sea, supporting both US and Vietnamese SEALs. Read More Here     Also jump to BSU-1, MST-2

Robert Stoner Briefing:  Fabulous Flops of Naval Engineering - The Shallow Water Attack Boat (1966)   The roots of the SWAB program have been lost over the years, but it was one of the radical designs tested by Boat Support Unit ONE in late 1965 and early 1966.

The boat was built by Bertram Yachts in Miami, Florida, and was powered by two Chrysler gasoline marine engines with four barrel carburetors and a pair of Dana stern drives.  The stern drives required a lot of maintenance.  Read the whole story here.


Other "Flop" comments:
  John Woody - I believe that this was the Ontos? (spelling) weaponed boat that we had at BSU - One when I arrived. It was on a trailer when I got there. It used the Marine anti tank recoilless rifle system. I believe the weapons were fixed, so the boat had to be aimed to shoot. It did not work out.

  Stephen Thomas - There were a few, the logic behind some of which escapes me.

A 21 SeaCraft runabout that had some extra bracing to support a center line pedestal for a weapon of some kind. Its hull was, as I recall, made of laminated balsa wood sheathed in plastic. The hull bottom had a series of parallel longitudinal steps. It was very fast and maneuverable, but could not beach. It had a stern drive. In profile the sheer line rose slightly from the bow, with a hump that merged into a concave slope that flattened into a straight line for most of the length. I seem to recall some association with the APSS program, but we're talking about some 40 or more years ago. I do recall morning and afternoon taxi runs for officers who live around the north end of the bay, who either did not want to face rush hour traffic, or whose licenses had been suspended.

A handful of unmodified 25' and 31' Bertrams that by my time were primarily used for navigation and boat crew training, for admin runs in the bay, and as swimmer safety boats for SEAL and UDT SDV training.

A 26' Atlantic Research Company SEABLAZER that was on loan from the builder for concept evaluation. It was twas a joy to handle. This was the prototype for the MSSC. Some of its features were included in the LSSC and STAB as well -- the reticulated flotation foam that filled the voids and fuel tanks (reducing accumulation of gasoline vapors), the pre-failed skin panels designed to vent any explosion from a hit out through the side or bottom, away from the armored crew and payload box. We dreaded the time when we would have to return her to the builder.

I can't help thinking that some of these were never intended for operation use, but solely for training "until the real thing came along" just as the Army used passenger cars and trucks marked "TANK" in maneuvers in the 1939 - 1941 period, as there weren't enough of the real thing to go around

SEABLAZER
(01-29-08)

From Stephen Thomas - Joe Judith was the AR SeaBlazer/MSSC project manager, and hosted the party for BSU-2 officers and wives/SOs to celebrate delivery of the BSU-2 portion of the production order. It must

have been late 1970; I had recently returned from my second (April - October) DaNang deployment, and none of the MSSC had arrived in-country when I toured all deployed teams and detachments with Lee Mansi in January and February of that year.

Please forward any recollection you may have to this project.
 

This brochure courtesy of Tom Beck, he snatched it from the trash in the '70's.


PTF Weapons Test Platform

PTF-13, the stateside Nasty class PTF which was the training boat for all PTF sailors deploying, was also used as a weapons test platform. Most notable was the 81mm rocket launcher built by Oerlikon. This twin launcher was tested Oct 1967. and had rotary drum magazines with 9 rockets in each magazine. The rockets had a range of 10,900 yards and the system weighed 2,300 lbs. The Rocket system was later given to the Ecuadorian Navy. PTF-13 also tested a stabilized 40mm cannon by White Oak Naval Ordnance Laboratory and a 20mm Hispano Suza cannon at the same time.
 

The two photos show the weapons mounted on PTF-13

PTF-13 would also test other weapons such as the REDEYE shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile.

Jim Gray - PTF Historian


10-25-08 Stephen Thomas -  The Oerlikon 81 MM rocket launcher trials were completed before I reported at the end of 1968. There was a short (silent) film of the weapon being fired out at the San Clemente target area. In the spring of '69  on a night DD-op, #13 struck some floating debris at speed and suffered significant damage. One screw was mangled, one of the frames (under the wardroom) was broken, and the starboard strut was deformed. She was never completely repaired, at least not during my tenure. PhibPac could never find funds or deck space to ship her to Subic and back for a proper overhaul. That may have had a lot to do with the decision to fit her as a drone target for trials of the air-to-surface version of Harpoon. An instrument package was to be mounted in the mortar position to measure and record miss distances with the Harpoons set to miss by a pre-set distance. 

As to the 81 MM mortar, during my second DaNang tour we obtained a few VT fuses  and converted a few HE rounds to VT frag. We found that air bursts would be more effective against personnel than impact bursts, and mechanical time fusing really needs a stable platform to be effective. The VT trials finally came to nothing, as it was discovered (fortunately by someone else) that the fuse was so sensitive that it could go off close aboard if you tried to use it in rain or even a heavy mist. 

Chuckle: I once had to get an interpreter to explain to a CSS gunner's mate that it was not a good idea to try to dumdum 20 MM ammo with a hacksaw.  Fortunately he had selected an AP round for his initial effort. But he ruined a few saw blades in the process.


MORE SWAB AND SEABLAZER
01-18-09 My name is David Goff, I was transferred to BSU-1 in Aug. 1965 as a BMSN, and departed in AUG, 1968 as a BM2. During that time, I was assigned as Coxswain of the SWAB for a three month period. I was advised that the SWAB concept was that of two engineers from San Clemente Island, and the boat was converted there.   Read More Here

(06-10-09) BIRGE, JACK L, EN2   March 64-Feb 67 Arrived Coronado Amphib Base for duty in Boat Training Team 7, same day as returning from WestPac cruise aboard USS Oriskany, CVA-34.  Reported to a bare building with single desk being used as the Quarter Deck.  While waiting for rest of unit to arrive, was granted a short leave.    Read More Here
 
Barracks 1964 Burton EN1 Quick BM2 Morel, EN2 Engineer Officer
Rose, ENC New SK Chief Warren, BM2 & our Corpsmen Pratt, En1 Birge, EN2
Green, EN1 Danang Hotel Birge, EN2 Green, EN1 Ltjg Tierney, Michael Belden, EN1
Burial site of Spanish ship captain on Spanish Beach dated 1859 Departing DaNang after 1st tour with Phillipino friends Danang Airport, Belding EN-1(no hat)

Jack Pratt, EN-1   Budiongan, SK-2

Jack Birge,  EN-2

Spanish Beach

Budiongan, SK-2 (standing)

Engine shop

     

Head after storm

Zoom of PTFs in background from "after storm" photo      

(06-10-09) Rodger Berley EN1  Ever since I found the website I have been looking at it for people I can remember. I remember Tiny Edwards, McMillan, Shifferns, then the gunnersmate Estep. When I was in BSU-1 I was also in school for the PG boats. I was supposed to go on the Tacoma, but there was a big delay in her reduction gears being made. That was when I was putting hours on the LSSC and the STAB boats. We were just putting hours on the engines before anything else was done to them. I was there Oct 68 to June 69. The latter part in Subic. While at Subic I was in the Napier Deltic Class in April. I still have my course book. My Naval career was ASR-7 Chanticleer, ASR-9, Florikan. Sub Tender AS-12, Sperry. BSU-1. Naval Facility Lewes Delaware. DD-866 Oreleck. Naval Station 32nd Street for Discharge. 10 years, 5 months total.

Engine Room on #3 boat before engines installed #6 boat #24 Boat - Osprey, all aluminum Rear view of #24 boat View of #20, #19 and airfield
   
#6 boat #17 boat Tiny Edwards at the helm    

07-10-09 , David M. McLean, Reno NV. I served in BSU-1 from 1966-1969 and had two tours to Da-Nang one in April 66 and the second in Aug 67. I was assigned to the shipfitters shop. We were responsible for all the welding/pipefitting and metal repairs for the boats/piers and drydock.   Read More Here


 
(Added 06-01-2010) PTF-2 at Little Creek Va. 1963 BSU-1 compound 1970 NAB Coronado, photo credit GMG2 Mark Polloni
(Added 05-30-2012)
  DET FOXTROT from Charles Kieth William (Added 02-17-2014) New Command Commissioned News clip.
(Added 02-17-2014)

 


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