"...THE MOST SIGNIFICANT NAVAL VICTORY 
OF 
THE VIET-NAM CAMPAIGN"


Sister ship to the destroyed Viet Cong infiltration vessel.
Early on the morning of March 1, four enemy infiltration vessels attempted to sneak ashore with supplies intended to fortify the current expanded Viet Cong offensive in South Viet-Nam. The attempt was a complete failure as one vessel was turned back without unloading its cargo and the other three were destroyed by Market Time units along the 1,000 mile coastline.

Playing a major role in what has been termed "The most significant naval victory of the Viet-Nam Campaign" was Miami's High Endurance Coast Guard Cutter Androscoggin.

Operating in our assigned patrol area some 150 miles south of the DMZ, we were ordered to take one of the trawlers under surveillance. At the time we were alerted, it had become apparent that this infiltrator would attempt to come through our area. We got underway immediately at 18 knots enroute to make contact with the vessel, fell in behind him, and tracked him for several miles. As it got closer to the coast the Andy began closing in.

At 1:12 AM, March 1, Androscoggin challenged the trawler with her flashing light. When the infiltrator ignored the challenge, we fired illumination shells from our gun mount. The third star shell clearly illuminated a vessel of approximately 100 feet in length. It was ot the same design as vessels which had infiltrated in the same area during March and July 1967.

The VC vessel then began firing with her deck guns and headed directly for the Androscoggin firing what appeared to be small arms, machine guns and a 57mm recoiless rifle.

At that time we began surface destructive fire with our 5" gun mount and .50 caliber machine guns. At 1:29 AM our main battery scored a direct hit on the after starboard side of the infiltrator and she turned again and headed for the beach.

At the same time, a cargo junk blundered into the line of fire, so the order to cease fire had to be given. Two Coast Guard 82 foot cutters, the Point Welcome and Point Grey,  and two Navy Swift boats, PCF 18 and 20, had formed a barrier off shore, while two Army helicopters gunships and a flare plane were orbiting the area. The gunships were orded to attack the infiltrator. They did, and as the flare plane illuminated the area, our crew saw the trawler take many direct hit with both rockets and mini-gun fire.

It was now 1:40AM and the 82 footers and Swift boats were ordered to attack. At least six mortar shots as well as many rounds from the machine guns were seen hitting the enemy, while all the time the infiltrator returned fire.

At 2:10AM the infiltrator beached near the mouth of the Song Thau Cau River, and a few minutes later her crew apparently set off an explosion in an attempt to destroy her. Although it badly damaged  her bow section she was still about 75% intact.


Gunnery Officer Ensign Milt Rose displays the largest piece of the vessel remaining after the explosion.

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The 82 footers and Swift boats kept up their hectic mortar and machine gun attack while surrounding the vessel in a semi-circle on the off shore side. At 2:25AM the vessel erupted in a violent explosion and was completely destroyed. A quick search of the area turned up only scattered debris. The largest piece recovered was part of a hatch cover.

Although Androscoggin and other units in the area had taken several hits from machine guns and small arms, there were no friendly caualties. Scars of the battle remained with the Androscoggin, such as dents and bullet holes  across her port bow, spray shield and bridge area. One enemy machine gun round was still embedded in our bow. It jutted out an inch or so about four feet above the water line, center in the broad red slash which angles down our side identifying us a a cutter of the USCG.

Navy divers later recovered 600 carbine rifles, mortar rounds, and other ammunition during salvage operations.

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