||Chu Lai Vietnam, site of a Marine Corps air base. The USS
Mahnomen County LST 912 was driven ashore by an 18-foot surf and
high winds from a typhoon on December 30 1966. The USS
Cocopa ATF 101 and other salvage vessels (I believe the ATF Sioux and
ARS Conserver) attempted to free the vessel in January 1967 and Lipan
was diverted to assist. In the photo the LST is aground just left
||Cocopa and another ship with their beach gear stretched out to
the grounded Mahnomen County.
||A great tell all photo of USS Cocopa hooked up with its beach
gear wire leading from its bow and a tow wire to the grounded LST.
Lipan is maneuvering to lay another set of beach gear which can be seen
laid-out on her fantail. Circa January 1967.
||Another view of Cocopa hooked up in her beach gear harness.
Possibly the bow of the ATF Sioux showing on the left of the photo.
Multiple attempts were made to free the grounded LST but she was hard
aground with a huge reef rock impaled in her bottom.
||A helicopter from the Marine Corps Air Base at Chu Lai Vietnam
flies over Lipan keeping an eye on things. Although the base was
right next to the disabled LST it was still hostile territory.
Circa January 1967.
||This landing craft assisted the mission. Here its hauling a
towed line from Lipan to one of the other salvage vessels on scene.
||Mahnomen County LST 912 hard aground as the surf continues to
pound it. Lipan would lay down its beach gear but be called away
before it could participate in any further pulls. We left our
beach gear there to be used and retrieved by the other ships. It
was ultimately decided to abandon the LST and to strip it and blow up
||Navy divers assisting the mission. Sadly, two of them
lost their life in the attempt to blowup the ship to prevent it from
falling into the hands of the Viet Cong. They entered the LST to
spread foam in its compartments and were suffocated from lack of oxygen.
This may very well be the last photo of them. Circa January 1967.
||The Firefish. A remote controlled speedboat to be used as a
high speed target for a gunnery exercise with a DLG. It was
equipped with a radar reflector to make it easier for the gun's radars
to pick it up in the sea swell clutter. Lipan was
fitted with a control panel and we boarded some engineers to operate it.
Things didn't go quite as planned as the engine on Firefish was started.
||Firefish gained speed as the engineer increased the throttle on
the remote control panel. He attempted to steer the boat but it
kept going straight. He tried to slow the throttle but it kept on
its 35 knot pace. He tried cutting the engine to no avail and
Firefish was rapidly leaving the scene as Lipan quickly went to flank
speed to try keep up with the errant speeder. Circa 1967.
||The flying bridge is awash with lookouts trying to keep track of
Firefish as we give chase at flank speed. It was a losing battle
as the speedboat easily outpaced us. We radioed the DLG to give
chase and she also went to flank speed but Firefish was still outpacing
||The DLG begins the chase. Fortunately her radar was
powerful enough to keep the errant Firefish on her screen until the
little target ran out of fuel. Lipan finally caught up with both
vessels, Firefish dead in the water at last, and we hauled it aboard and
headed back to Pearl Harbor, arriving later than expected after the
chase around Hawaiian waters.
||The Soviets. We chased them all over Yankee Station in the
Tonkin Gulf and South China Seas during the Vietnam era. These
intelligence gathering trawlers would remain on station for months
trying to gather as much information about U.S. war fighting
capabilities. You'll note in the photo that the vessel was
festooned with antennae. Circa 1968.
||Each Soviet vessel would be given a code name "Skunk", followed
by a phonetic letter designation (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie,etc). I
believe this is a photo of the trawler "Gidrofon" which we tagged "Skunk
Delta". When Gidrofon was relieved the new trawler would be tagged
"Skunk Echo", and so and so forth. They were a bothersome lot.
||Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups plied the waters off Vietnam
constantly, launching and recovering aircraft and the Soviets always
tried to harass the carriers as they passed by us. It was always a
"cat & mouse" game with the Soviets trying to slip past us to get to the
carriers. A never ending chess game involving wit, cunning, and
deception. Circa 1968.
||This photo tells the whole story. A Carrier Battle Group
approaches and sends a helo to us to drop off mail. You'll note we
are busy with the helo and in the distance is the Soviet Trawler, taking
advantage of our activity and scampering after the Carrier.
Typically the carrier wouldn't launch a helo until it was sure it could
outrun the Trawler. 15 knots vs. 30+ knots. Chalk one up for
||Launching. An Aircraft carrier in the Tonkin Gulf off
Vietnam launching two jets as it steams close past us and the Soviets.
Carriers must maintain a steady course into the wind to conduct flight
ops and the Soviets always did their best to try cut in front of them
and harass the mission. Lipan's job was to prevent it and to that
end we and the Soviets did some incredible maneuvering trying to outfox
one another. Circa 1968.
||Landing. Another carrier steams past landing aircraft.
In this photo the pilot is "waved off" at the last moment and has to go
around, to make another attempt. These carriers were so close at
times that we could hear the announcements over their 1MC systems.
On occasion their Destroyer and Cruiser escorts would be all around us
to assist us with the Soviet if need be but we always managed on our
||The USS Coral Sea CVA 43 steaming past. Sometimes they'd appear on
the horizon and just skirt past us in the distance and sometimes they'd
be headed right for us. Sometimes the Soviet would incessantly
give chase and sometimes he'd lay dead in the water and let the battle
group steam through unhindered. Circa 1968.
||Two Aircraft Carriers steam past us in the Tonkin Gulf.
||Lipan was tasked to hunt for a downed P3A Orion Subhunter
maritime patrol aircraft in the vicinity of An Thoi Vietnam near the
Cambodian border. We worked in concert with a Mine Sweeper (The
Conflict) which did the ocean bottom searching with their sonar while we
provided the divers. This gunboat brought out two Australian
explosive ordnance demolition divers to disarm any live weapon systems
our divers might encounter. Circa 1968
||His name was Dave and he was big and rugged. The two
Australians made a stencil of a kangaroo and proceeded to spray paint
red kangaroos all over Lipan. Eventually we painted over
them but years later we were still finding kangaroos painted in
inaccessible areas. We got even by stenciling "sea bats" all over
their diving gear on the day they departed. It did not please them
but ... it was payback.
||BM2 Bob Carroll, a Lipan diver, lifts the sidearm out of Dave's
holster. The area around AN Thoi was not all that
secure and these guys came aboard with sidearms and M-16 rifles.
We looked for about a month for the P3 and never found it but we did
catch some great Red Snappers and ate like kings. The shipfitters
made us a barbecue grill out of a 55 gallon drum and "Ma" Spegal,
our cook, was cooking the fish as fast as we'd catch them.