Bobs Early History
First the spook-talk: "I cannot confirm or deny these incidents you describe
took place. And, I was never here."
From the opsec (operational security) point of view having CSS/Sea Commando
separate organizations would make sense because it would cause confusion if
anyone was trying to piece-together the operational puzzle.
he PTFs were part of Naval Special Warfare Group, Pacific. The assets
themselves (PTFs) were owned by Boat Support Unit ONE, NAB Coronado, CA.
When the PTFs were deployed, the units that used or fixed them were known as
Mobile Support Teams (MST) or Mobile Repair Teams (MRT). In the case of PTFs, MST DaNang owned the boats that the
VNN/CSS/Sea Comandos took up
North. When the PTFs were shot-up or worn too badly for MRT DaNang to
handle, the boats were sent to MRT Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines,
for repair. The depot maintenance facility for the Napier Deltic engines on
PTFs was Subic Bay or the Napier plant in the UK.
Since my service was with MST in the South, I am guessing here, but it would
be logical that the PTF crews that went North had VNN personnel with Sea
Commandos/LDNN raiders attached and may be an American SEAL and/or MST
advisor. The MST DaNang reported to NSWG Siagon, who reported to ComNavForV. I suspect the
VNN/Sea Commando/LDNN chain of command put them
under Coastal Security Service which reported to VNN Saigon.
This is the way things were run down South. The MST people crewed the
boats; SEALs/UDTs/LDNNs/KCS(Kit Carson Scouts) did operations. It was a
symbiotic relationship because neither could get their individual job done
without the other.
MST crews did train with their UDT/SEAL counterparts in that they would go
out with us, we would do the insertion, we would act as radio relay for them
while they were ashore, and we would go in and extract or cover their
extraction. However, boat crew training was not receive the close combat
training that the SEALs/UDTs did. Jim Gray was back on active duty with
Special Boat Unit ONE (successor to BSU ONE) and did service in the Persian
Gulf during the "tanker war" between Iran and Iraq. He told me that the
decision was made to have SBU ONE boat crews/SEALS undergo similar training.
I believe he was referring to the physical conditioning part of the training
and not the close combat operational part of the training, because crewing
the boat is very different from snooping and pooping on dry land or the
shallows of some inlet. Part of the training may have included
cross-training of the SEALs to run the boat if the SBU crew was killed or
disabled. So far as I know, SBU crews do not have to be SEAL qualified.
Try Jim Gray. He may be able to help here also.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you are able to confirm this.
My name is Bob Stoner and I have made inputs to the PTF-Nasty site on the
weapons suite used by the boats. I served with BSU ONE from February 1970
through February 1971 and Coastal River Division 21. I was trained on
PTF-13 and did later duty with PTF-17 through PTF-19.
I noticed that there are some craft among the missing that were owned by BSU
ONE after the LCPL. There was the LCSR, the MSSC, LSSC, and HSSC. The Mini-ATC was designed to remedy the problems exposed in-service of the
The HSSC was a modified LCM-6 used by MST dets at Nha Be and Nam Can. The
LSSC was the Jacuzzi pump-jet version of the MerCruiser powered STAB boat.
If BSU ONE helped develop the craft used by the Mobile Riverine Force
(TF-117), then they need to add other "heavies" besides the
Monitor-conversion of the LCM-6. Among the boats would be the ATC, Zippo, CCB, "Douche-boat", and
Give me an e-mail and let's talk.
Thanks for the clarification.
I am still looking for my slides of SEA FLOAT and the MRF. Nothing has
turned up so far.
If you are hauling a Deltic, that's 7-1/2 tons of aluminum and steel.
Time for a sea story .....
Back when I was with CRD21 at GLakes, IL, we go a naval message asking us to
confirm arrival of an overhauled Deltic engine from Subic Bay, RP. We
replied that No, we hadn't received one; we didn't know we were to expect
So MRT3, Subic did some checking. It seems that the 7-1/2 ton engine (in
its shipping container) was trucked From Subic Bay to Clark AFB where it was
loaded on a C-141. The C-141 went down for a maintenance gripe at Travis
AFB (near Sacramento) and was off-loaded. After the C-141 was fixed, it was
reloaded but the Deltic never made it back aboard.
After three weeks of lots of messages back and forth, the USAF finally 'fessed up they'd found the engine. It was loaded on another aircraft and
flown to Glenview NAS, where it was trucked to us.
At the time, the story making the rounds at GLakes went something like this:
USAF Master Sergeant proped-up against the Deltic engine container (Travis
AFB) with a clipboard. "Can you imagine that? The Navy has lost a 7-1/2
ton diesel boat engine? What a bunch of dummies."
I had a good object lesson in gasoline vs. diesel propulsion in small boats
a SEA FLOAT. We had four assigned to our det: the HSSC (LCM-6 w/diesels),
MSSC (Chevy 427 gassers w/Mercruiser outdrives), and 2 LSSC (Ford 427
gassers w/Jacuzzi pump jets). Guess which ones gave us the most trouble?
The MSSC and LSSCs.
The MSSC had a bad engine that we had to go to Bihn Thuy to replace. We did
change outs of the LSSC engines in the field. Ugh. The other problem was
the gasoline fume accumulation in the MSSC, LSSC bilges. One day, they
fired up the engines on one of the LSSCs without ventilating the engine
compartment. Surprise! They had a backfire through the carburetor, ignited
the gas fumes, and blew the engine hatch completely off the boat (along with
MY tool box). Now the hatch floated and was easily retrieved; however, my
tool box went straight to the bottom of the Song Cau Lon. (I was less than
pleased when I returned from fixing the MSSC to find my tool box gone! I
wonder where those idiots thought the nearest ServMart was?)
Once we got the MSSC and LSSCs fixed, they were OK. But, I always felt a
lot safer on the big, diesel-powered HSSC. I always felt the gassers would
conk out at the worst time. (Sometimes they did, but not while I was on
One addition to the 1964-1971 flow chart is MRT Binh Thuy. I'm not certain
about the MST-3 grouping. The original MST operations centered about Nha
Be, the Rung Sat Special Zone, and Vung Tau shipping channel/Siagon River.
This was always a hot operations area because the river was the main source
of supply for Saigon.
We went up the Saigon River as far as Nha Be on my ship, USS Nueces
(APB-40), before we headed home for the USA in October 1969. This was a
very surreal trip! By this time, most of the RSSZ and banks of the river
had been completely stripped by RANCH HAND operations with Agent Orange.
You could look out across the mud flats and see other ships (apparently
sailing on dry land) headed to Saigon. The river was very twist-and-turn.
Once in the morning and once in the afternoon a pair of MSB (mine sweeping
boats) from Nha Be would troll down and up the river with their sweep gear
to cut any command detonated mines. If I recall the most firepower these
small sweepers had was a .50 BMG in a raised gun tub. The only armor they
had was a steel pot, flak jacket and a GI shirt. Very brave men.
During the early to mid 1970s, CRD-20, -21, and -22 all operated
CRD-21 and -22 got them from Little Creek. In 1975, CRD-21 got three PGs:
ASHEVILLE, CROCKETT, and MARATHON. CRD-22 was the first to lose her PTFs
because the long river transit at slow speed from the mouth of the
Mississippi Delta to the CRD-22 piers really put a lot of wear and tear on
the Deltics. (OICs had to keep playing with the throttle controls to keep
the speed down, and this led to lots of trouble with the engines which were
designed to RUN.) I don't remember which boats CRD-22 had, but I believe
they had two plus some other small craft. You might query any of your
mailing list to see whether anyone remembers.
Some other thoughts on BSU-1 come to mind:
At the time I was in BSU-1 (1970-1971), we had the following assets:
To do LCM-6 training we borrowed a 6-boat from Assault Craft Unit ONE (next
to us at the piers -- ACU-1 had LCM-6s, LCM-8s, LCUs, a LARC-5 or two, some
LCVPs and LCPLs).
NavSpecWarGrp was headquartered at NAB Coronado and was composed of BSU-1
with its MST/MRT subgroups, SEAL/UDT, and Beach Jumper Unit ONE. The BJU
people were spooks who ran people sniffers (acoustic, seismic, and odor) and
did ELINT. The Beach Master Unit ONE, ACU-1, and SeaBee Unit ONE were not NSWG, but we all fell Under
PhibPac. There was a group of PGs stationed
across the bay at the 32nd Street Piers. I believe they were their own
subset; I think it was Coastal-Inshore Warfare Group Pacific. They had a
logo which had a black and white checkered flag. They were also part of PhibPac.
I'm surprised how much I remember; I haven't thought about this in 30 years.