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Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, but under the operational control of the NCC. It was not until 15 October, however, that the Naval Support Activity was officially activated and began relieving Marine amphibious forces of this basic Navy mission. Finally, on 24 December, General Walt deactivated the Provisional Naval Component Support Activity and established a permanent Naval Component Command staff, observing that there had been no formal staff distinction between his responsibilities as Commanding General, III MAF and NCC and that "the steady increasing magnitude of the staff requirements" required the separation of the staff functions of the two commands. Colonel Boyd then became Deputy Chief of Staff, Naval Component Command and reported directly to General Walt. At the same time, Marine and Navy senior commanders began discussing whether the entire Naval Component Command responsibility should be assumed by a separate Navy command, rather than remaining under III MAF.15
The importance of the Naval Support Activity to III MAF was obvious in that all resupply was provided by either sea or air. In July 1965, slippage in air and sea schedule deliveries caused III MAF to reduce its stock level of individual combat rations from a 30-day to a 15-day supply level.16 The situation gradually improved as additional personnel and equipment arrived to reinforce the Naval Support Activity. From an average daily discharge of only slightly over 1,000 measured tons at the port of Da Nang prior to September, the rate increased to a figure of 2,505 measured tons by the end of the year.17 There were still problems because of inadequate unloading facilities at the port. At the end of November, 17 ships were in Da Nang harbor unloading or waiting to be unloaded. This figure was reduced to 12 by the end of December, but seven of these ships had been in port longer than two weeks, and four had been in port over a month.18
At Chu Lai, heavy seas caused by the monsoon season brought about further complications. In October, huge swells damaged the causeway causing the seaward portion to start to sink. This expeditionary dock was inoperative for an extended period since it was not considered practical to restore it until the worst of the monsoon was over. In spite of this frustration, 19 LSTs were unloaded at Chu Lai during October.19
A much more critical handicap was a leak which developed in the fuel line of the amphibious assault fuel system (AAFS) at Chu Lai during October. Two amphibious assault fuel systems, one at Da Nang and the other at Chu Lai, were established after the 5 August VC attack on the Esso POL depot at Lien Chieu which destroyed most of the commercial fuel storage in I Corps.* Each of these two systems was capable of holding 300,000 gallons of various types of fuel, resupplied directly from tankers off the coast or in the harbor. When the leak developed in the fuel line at Chu Lai, heavy seas prevented divers from making repairs until December. During the interim, the NSA devised a temporary expedient by installing a buoyant system of 5,000 feet of flexible hose from the AAFS supported by empty 55-gallon drums. Chu Lai depended upon this source for fuel until the bottom-laid line was repaired.20 In December, aviation fuel for MAG-12 at Chu Lai again became critically short for a two-day period because of a break in the offshore lines.21**
RED BALL and CRITIPAC
With the rapid influx of the remainder of the 3d Marine Division, new elements of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, and the introduction of units of the 1st Marine Division into the already overcrowded facilities at Da Nang and Chu Lai, logistic problems could be expected. These were reflected in shortages of equipment, fuel, ammunition, and supplies. As already stated, one of the main problems was slow unloading of ships at the undeveloped ports in South Vietnam. Colonel Harold A. Hayes, the III MAF G-4 during the second half of 1965, observed:
The ''humor'' of having to dump truck loads of canned soft drinks to get in the cargo holds for much needed artillery ammunition (the soft drinks were deck loaded in . . . boxes which disintegrated in the rains); the arrival of soap for the Vietnamese-partially used bars from hotels the Wives' Clubs gathered-which truly lathered on decks, in trucks, and in storage (what a mess); the horror of unloading ammunition in Da Nang Harbor and having
*Lien Chieu is inside the Da Nang Harbor on the south shore of Hai Van Peninsula. At the time of the attack, the area was outside of the Marines' Da Nang TAOR and was guarded by two understrength Regional Force companies. Two JP-4 storage tanks were destroyed and three others damaged resulting in the loss of 1,650,000 gallons of aviation fuel.
**The wing's chronology goes on to state: "In order to conserve fuel available at this airfield and continue to meet operational commitments, A-4 aircraft were launched with light fuel loads, then refueled from KC-130F tankers before and after conducting missions." 1st MAW ComdC, Dec65.
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