Danang torpedo boat simulated attack

Vietnam 1965 1966

USS Reeves DLG-24


In the early part of our first deployment, about June of 1964, we pulled into Danang to deliver some material and for the captain and navigator to be briefed on conditions in the area.  One of the ironic things aobut that deployment was that there was virtually no inforation about the offshore waters, the coast, or the country.  Danang was described in the guidebook as a small, backwater tourist stop.  It was true that the beaches there were white sand, and that there is a background of green mountain slopes behind the town, which rings a bay about three miles across.  As we maintained a watch for swimmers who might try to place limpet mines, we could view a KC-97 pass overhead with a refueling hose trailing as it declared an emergency landing.  Mortar fire and small arms fire in the mountains indicated that all was not as peaceful as it looked.  Smoke rose from the direction of the firing, about six or seven miles away. 


Part of the arrangements the captain made with the port authorities was a run on the ship with two or three of the command boats to determine if they could sneak up on us while at sea, and get close enough to make a torpedo run.  That night, we proceeded slowly northward and watched on radar as they came out of the harbor about 15 miles away.  We locked onto them with the missile firecontrol radar and watched as they struggled with the five to six foot swells.  It was misting rain, so they had thought they could sneak up on us.  At about 10 miles, we simulated firing two missiles, one for each of the 40 foot boats, and scored success with each of the missiles.  In an actual shot, the warhead would have hit the boat with about 150 pounds of two foot long quarter inch rods traveling at about 10,000 ft per second, followed by the impact of the 1300 pound missile body nearly full of solid rocket fuel.  Not a very good prognosis for the success of that kind of attack, particularly since we could see them on radar long before they saw us.  The Terrier missile was the immediate predecessor of the SM-1 missile, which was  the standard surface to air missile of the US Navy for a number of years, outside the Aegis ships.  With its proportional navigation guidance, it has very good terminal accuracy against even a maneuvering target.