1964-1971 - Vietnam Era - Boat Support Units

Boat Support Unit - ONE

  Boat Support Unit - TWO

Mobile Support Team - ONE

Mobile Support Team - Two


Mobile Support Team - THREE

Special Boat Detachments


(C) The Mobile Support Team (MST), Da Nang functioned as a Branch of NAD. Its parent command was (Boat Support Unit ONE, later)  Coastal River Squadron ONE, Coronado, Calif, an integral command of Naval Inshore-Warfare Command, Pacific. All MST personnel were Temporary Attached Duty (TAD) to NAD for a 180-day period. The Mobile Support Team was composed of the OIC, a Navy Line Lieutenant, and ten to fifteen enlisted men of various technical rates commensurate with PTF/PCF craft upkeep and repair.   more here

Added 09-03-2010

Read this recently released comprehensive description of the use of the PTF in the Vietnam War from declassified documents of DOD in the Reading Room. Look down in the document for the title: Draft Macsog Documentation Study Annex D to Appendix C Maritime OPS or click on the above link. There is a full discussion of the Vietnam War in the Reading Room. If the article fails to load CLICK HERE for a local copy hosted on the website.

Our thanks to Allen C. LoBean Clayton, GA.  Swift Boat PCF- 15, 75 Crew 120, W 1966-68 Gunnermate Gun, I Corps for sharing this great info.

(10-26-2010) This video clip was found at the National Archives by Chip Marshall Click HERE for the PTF-24 Video full length (20 min .wmv) no audio
Click HERE for the PTF-24 Video, boat only (11 min .wmv)
no audio
Click HERE for the PTF-24 Video, boat only for MACs (11 min .mp4)
no audio

(Added 06-01-2010)  Rare photo of PTFs in Cam Rhan Bay Vietnam Our thanks to Allen C. LoBean Clayton, GA.       Swift Boat PCF- 15, 75 Crew 120, W 1966-68 Gunnermate Gun, I Corps for sharing this great info.

Front Page of a Plan of the day Danang. Sunday, 18 April, 1971 Citation for CSS PTF Crews

PTF Losses documented

Copy of Orders

11-29-16   Joe Witmeyer A few years ago I asked for a copy of my service records, and I discovered that I had received the BSU-1 Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1968.  Which was after I left BSU-1. Nobody told me about it. Perhaps others are like me and didn't know about the award.    

My tour with Boat Support Unit - 1/MST-1 from Jan 1964-1967 - Jim Thomas

In January 1964 I left LCU Div 13 as the Lead engineer on LCU 1475 and checked in to NOSGPAC (Naval Operations Support Group Pacific) at the UDT Compound. I then had a physical, was issued greens, new boots and other gear. I was then told to report to SERE (Survival Escape and Evasion) School,  more here

MST-1 and the PTFs

MST-1, on arrival, began training the CSS on the PTFs. There was a great push to become operational. American PTF crews taught the CSS/PTF crews what they had learned in the States, plus air and fleet coordination, proper communication procedures, and multiple boat tactics, gunnery and underway repairs were stressed.

The complete history of the PTF and more stories from the men that served on them can be found at www.ptfnasty.com.

Jack Jennings -  Here are some photos from early 1966. I have attempted to describe them, but after 40 years my mind is gone! See Photos Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

DaNang PTF Base Video clips (mpg) converted from 8mm film. These were probably taken in December 1965. The lower base (try this if previous fails: lower base ) could be as late as May of 1966. The upper base, (try this if previous fails: upper base ) I think, is a Catholic School that sent some students over to sing for us. Email to Jim Thomas what you recall when you see these clips. Lets add to the story about the base.

NEW Photos - (10-06) Joe Witmeyer - Here is a collection of my old photos and some stories from around the base at Camp Fay and the PTF docks. Of course someone had to do the water skiing.  Read More Here.

Phil Raccio - I was on the ONE boat, and the Capt. was MR. KNIGHT. The ONE boat was the only aluminum hull boat there. That was back in 64. The 4 Packard engines put out 2,500 horse per engine. We had a crew of 20 originally. When we where in DaNang the crew was about 10 of us. I remember the name ROSE, as for me I was well known as the LITTLE GUINEA. I was an enginemen 3rd class at that time. Most of my crew are gone, there are a few I have found, as for the TWO boat, we where together most of the time, not much later the fast and nasty's joined in. The 2 boat ran on AV gas also. Read More Here. (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

04-11-02   Red Chandler    The Russian PTs had been given to the Chinese and in one case we captured a Chinese adviser. The Nungs questioned him but I don't know what happened to him. Yes the #1 and #2 boats were World War Two boats and they had three 16 cylinder Packards that burned Av-gas so hot we could use it in cigarette lighters.  Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

07/09/01 Jerry Chouinard    I was on watch one night (8-12) and we always had two guys on watch...one in the trailer above pier 2 and one who roamed around and checked the boats, generators, etc. Well I was down on Pier 1 about 10-10:30 and I heard a sound I'd never heard before...whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop! Then there was a splash about 40 yards out past the floating dry dock. I ran like hell up to the watch trailer (heart rate was 300 I think) and just after I got there, again...whoop, whoop, whoop. Splash, just off the end of pier 2!!! I yelled, "go get the duty officer up." Flares were lighting up the sky all over Monkey Mtn. and I didn't know what the hell was happening.  Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

Vern Dewitt  see the photos and his website link here.

02/19/02 - Don Goldberg    Once upon a time, the Vietnamese did not allow US ships into their territorial waters without a specific clearance. That changed in March of 1965 when two DDs were dispatched from the CVAs grouped around what would later become known as Yankee Station. The instructions to the two DDs were pretty basic: establish a barrier patrol at the DMZ. The destroyers, Black and Higbee, meant just off the beach. Black put her motor whaleboat with the ops officer in the water, he motored over to the Higbee and, in agreement with the ops boss on Higbee, created a barrier that was ten miles deep and twenty miles to sea. That was Market Time's first night.   Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

02/23/02 -  Al Grobmeier    I was assigned to MACV-SOG headquarters at Saigon from 10 Jun 65 to 8 Jun 66, and was aboard several of the PTFs at the Naval Advisory Detachment, Danang on 23 Jun 65. During my year in Vietnam we lost the following PTFs: PTF 4 by grounding on 4 Nov 65. Destroyed by USN aircraft. PTF 9 lost 8 Mar 66. PTF 14 and PTF 15 lost by grounding 23 Apr 66. Destroyed by USN aircraft. PTF 8 on 16 Jun 66 (after I had departed) PTF 16 on 19 Aug 66 (after I had departed) During the year I was in Vietnam, no PTFs were lost due to enemy action. However, several PCFs with same/similar numbers were lost to the enemy during that year. The Sea Classics article claims that PTF 3 was part of the CIA's Sacred Sword of the Patriots League which may have been true until the military took over under OPLAN 34-A in January 1964 but certainly not after SOG's takeover. Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

Ngo Xuan Hung - Thank you so much for adding link to Colonel Ngo The Linh website. I would like to confirm that it was Colonel Linh and William Colby who started commandos missions by the sea since 1959, then later Colonel Linh and SOG (1964) founded Coastal Security Service (So Phong Ve Duyen Hai -SPVZH).
     He was the founder and first commander of CSS and formed the Sea Commando Teams - Luc Luong Biet Hai in 1964 (original team trained in Nha Trang in 1960 for sea command missions under CIA).
     Beside running the spy network and commando teams to the North by air and by sea, Colonel Ngo was also instrumental in forming Earth Angles (North Vietnamese Ralliers), Sacred Sword Patriots League and other spyops with LTC McKnight and Colonel Sadler & Colonel Singlaub.
Please help me in honoring all American and Vietnamese who fought so hard and made so much sacrifice in CSS and NAD (Commander Fay, Tougleman, and others).

08/18/00 - Tom Huston  "Spanish beach" was a USNAD/MST private "training area", located about 1km from the upper base, i.e. not too far from the deep water piers at the end of the Ten Sha peninsula It consisted of a bar, beach, women for rent etc. We spent Sunday afternoon's there, BBQ, drinking, swimming, diving, ski boat, and renting some of those women. Mickey Mouth (and all that that implied) chewed Bethel nut so her teeth were black and the gums and lips bright red!.. YUK, No one ever admitted to "renting" Mickey, but........  Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)
04/02/00 - Mark Tondel   I was an ET3 on the PTF-3 when we first started back in Norfolk. The first two boats were the PTF-3 & 4. I would like to find out any info you might have on them and any info on any of my crew mates should you have that.  Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)
07/06/02 Robert Tucker  MST did the maintenance on the PTFs/PCFs and did an outstanding job in my personal opinion. The MST shipmates rotated back to the states every six months, which the NAD personnel took exception to. I think that some of the operations may still be classified; therefore, I will have to be careful here. I have read about the Plowman Missions that I participated in so I think that this is a safe area. The PTFs were used on these missions from Danang north to the 17th parallel. I also participated in coastal search and destroy missions on PTFs in I Corps south of Danang, and PCF search and destroy missions with the insertion of teams in I Corps.  Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)
03/07/00 - Cam Tran     I was a PTF skipper at Danang (NAD/CSS - Naval Advisory Detachment/Coastal Security Services) from 1965 - 1970. During that time, I've worked very close with MST personnel. I still remember one of the guys is Del Catron. And do you remember the Rendez-vous club at Son Cha - Danang? I still keep the "Zippo" lighter with a SOG logo engraved on it!   Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)


Ralph Pauley - Does anyone remember the mission that we went on to salvage a PTF up North that had the bow blown off?  We had to use p250 pumps to get the water out, then towed the boat 60 miles back to DaNang. We then tried to get the boat into the portable dry dock, but because of water in the belly of boat it tilted and a boatsman fell from up on the top and was cut up really bad. Read More Here (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

ROBERT E. "BOB" NOWLIN (USED TO BE GMG 2) - I WAS WITH BSU-1 FROM 12 AUG 69 TO 6 MAY 71. WAS IN NAM AT SON ONG DOC AND AT SEAFLOAT FROM 18 DEC 69 TO 17 JUN 70 WITH MST 2 DET "C".  Read More Here. (This is a link to www.ptfnasty.com)

PTFs in formation outside of DaNang

(03-10-08) Stephen Thomas - I'm afraid  can't answer any of your questions. I rescued the slides [of the PTFs and MSSCs below] from a trash can some time between my first and second tours and held on to them. The best I can do as far as dating them is that they had to have been made prior to May 1969.
After the last operational loss and the withdrawal of the Ospreys, inventory was down to seven Nasty and it would not have been unusual to have only four boats serviceable at any time. There would always be one  or sometimes two in Subic for drying out and/or major structural repair, one might be in transit to or from Subic, and one would often be stood down for on-site maintenance -- engine change an the like.

This detail may help you, if you can make it out in any of the pictures. PTF 3 - 8 all had the aluminum reinforcing plates under the torpedo tubes and the plates were still present on #3 and #5 - #7 in 1969. PTF 9 - 16, built as gunboats, without the tubes, never had them as I recall.
      Brand new MSSC in Coronado showing it to a visiting dignitary.
04-27-08 Robert G. Buckman., EM2 ; MST-1Danang, June 71-Dec. 71. I was in Danang Oct 71 when typhoon Hester hit us and PTFs 6&7, a PCF and a push boat were sunk at the piers. They were raised and salvaged then sent to Subic for repair on the USS Cleveland (I went along). The tidal surge was so much it would push the fenders out and then the boat would hit the steel pier and bust the sides in. The VNs all took off and we lost power on the piers so no pumps could be used. The lower base lost all of the power lines, several tin roofs and some windows were blown out. It was on Sat. and Sun., as I remember and the boats sunk late Sun. night or Mon morning. Across the harbor the VNs lost 6 or 8 coastal boats that were blown upon the rocks.

05-15-08 Steven Thomas

This information is probably already be somewhere on the Warboats pages but I haven't found it yet. 

The three Swifts at DaNang were purchased off the shelf and given minimum modifications. As they were CIA purchases, there was no BuShips number plate on the stern such as was present on all PCF. Swift was not a reference to speed, but was the builder's design designation, just as the design for PTF 23 - 26 was designated Osprey. Sewart Seacraft used marine bird names for their designs at that time. 

The DaNang Swifts were, indeed, Swifts and not PCF. The only readily visible marking, at least in 1969 and 1970, consisted of a white dot or dots painted on the inside of the rear cabin door, and was visible only when the door was latched open. The number of dots corresponded to the number originally assigned to the boat at the time they entered CIA service. 

As they were intended for hit and run raids and not for patrol work, they did not require the amenities fitted to the PCF built for the USN. Without the extra weight of the amenities, they were somewhat faster than the PCF despite having less powerful engines. 

When I used a PTF (American crew) to escort two of the Swifts to Cam Ranh Bay to set up a SCAT winter FOB, the resident round eyes were amazed to see the CSS crews washing the boats down and cleaning and oiling the guns before securing for chow.


Typhoon Ester hits DaNang - Photos Here

10-29-08 Bob Lindahn - I was attached to MST-1 (later it was changed to CRS-1) in the early 70's. I was a Hulltech/diver for our unit in Da Nang from 1971-1972 when typhoon Ester came rolling thru. I have some black and white photos of the damaged PT's and a few shots around the lower base. Are you interested in them for on your web site? Thank you for the site by the way, there is not much written about MST, CRS or the PT boats. Thanks again, Bob


(Added 10-12-2011) Donald Colvard an original PTF-3 crewman. 

Repairing Hole in Bottom of PTF-3 with engine room Patch off you can see the two 18 cylinder turbo Charged Napier Deltic engines, and into control room window Don Corvard and J.D against 20mm note PTF-3 name tape and Patch on uniforms

Don Corvard and Mascot "Duke"  in Back Ground J.D. and behind 40mmm our Rebel Flag


News paper clipping about Judo class everyone on boat took in Olongapo Philippines ..The whole PTF-3 crew listed
Insignia: shoulder flash for dress blues and Patch for fatigue greens.

Pulling into Pearl Harbor HI. Spic and Span and in Dungarees, I'm on stern. Guys in Greens are UDT-12 frogmen.

We used this small boat for mail and other runs, but it broke down and we're pulling it back with the Mike-6.


Beautiful stern shot study of PTF-3.

Christmas in the Philippines, probably 1963. Notice the boats X-mas tree wreaths and lights. Notice Don's green uniform with PTF-3 Patch and name tape.

This was from my second deployment. McCormick, Armstrong and Charlie Quick a BM from PTF-4

Douglass Steele Best Boss I ever had

The Mike -6 boat in Da Nang River, used to move and haul supplies. Note the Viet "Eyes" painted on Bow.

This was Do Do Island, the Prisoner of War island, we took supplies out to the island in the Mike-6. Me, Charlie Quick, and Bill Mount.

My Barracks Da  Nang second tour

Repairing Hole in Bottom of PTF-3

with engine room Patch off you can see the two 18 cylinder turbo Charged Napier Deltic engines, and into control room window

Don Corvald and J.D against 20mm note PTF-3 name tape and Patch on uniforms

Don Corvald and Mascot "Duke"  in Back Ground J.D. and behind 40mmm our Rebel Flag

News paper clipping about Judo class everyone on boat took in Olongapo Philippines ..The whole PTF-3 crew listed


Insignia: shoulder flash for dress blues and Patch for fatigue greens.

Pulling into Pearl Harbor Hi. Spic and Span and in Dungarees, I'm on stern. Guys in Greens are UDT-12 frogmen.

We used this small boat for mail and other runs.. but it broke down and were pulling it back with the Mike-6

Don Colvard re-united with PTF-3 after almost 50 years.



The First Three Swift Boats in Da Nang , RVN
By James "Jim" Thomas, ENC (Ret.) (added 03-20-2014)

This time 50 years ago I was in Da Nang with MST 1, setting up the Lower Base for the PTFs. There were three Swift Boats already there, 1, 2 and 3. They were off shore oil rig crew boats used in the Gulf of Mexico. They were 50 ft. long and powered by two 12V71 Detroit Diesel engines, using N 90 injectors and could run at 2350 RPMs. Two of the boats had 24 volt system, and the third had a 32 Volt starting system (four starting 8 volt batteries connected in series). These boats did not have the gun tubs above the forward cabin. They had a Decca radar and Helm radio direction finder.

Located on top of the Aft Cabin was a tripod for mounting a single MA 2 with a bicycle seat for training the mount with your feet. They did have a head in the sleeping quarters. There was no generator to power any of the auxiliary equipment. The crew was all Vietnamese with a skipper from another country. We didnt crew the boats but the skipper of each boat would let us know if we needed to work on the engines such as a drop in RPMs, (ie:2100 instead of 2350 RPMs). They would leave at dark usually carrying a couple of basket boats and people that we didnt know or had no need to know. They were generally gone a couple of day or more.

These boats were configured different than the other Swifts that were used near Cuba.  The final PCF design came from the Swifts used in Vietnam first and then the Cuba boats. This included the forward gun tubs, radar, aft cabin 50 cal. mounted on an 81 mm mortar, plus a generator that ran a refrigerator and freezer.

I was in the training crew for the first PCF crews at NAB, Coronado, CA. since we had been using the first Swifts in late 1964 and knew the boats well.


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