Sunday, December 05, 2021

Sunday Ship History: Operation Game Warden South Vietnam 1965- 1973

"Firefight" by R. G. Smith; 1968

In an earlier post, we took a look at Operation Market Time which was meant to halt the influx of weapons and other supplies by sea into South Vietnam. Operation Game Warden was initiated to cover the inland waters of parts of South Vietnam, as set out at the Navy History and Heritage Command Operation Game Warden: Keeping Shipping Channels Open

In 1965, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) recognized that the enemy was supplying Viet Cong units via the Ho Chi Minh Trail and Cambodia. In December of that year, the Navy established the River Patrol Force (Task Force 116) to keep shipping channels open, search river craft, disrupt enemy troop movements, and support special operations and ground forces. Operation Game Warden limited the enemy’s use of South Vietnam’s larger rivers.

Below is a study of Game Warden prepared at the Navy's request by the Center for Naval Analysis in 1976. Before reading that report, it is worth reviewing some comments on the nature of the U.S. Navy's involvement with riverine warfare as set out here:

To our small initial Navy section of the Military Assistance and Advisory Group, Vietnam, we gradually added stronger coastal forces, rapidly increased the number of river patrol and minesweeping craft, and introduced a river assault force to give three major U.S. Navy combatant task forces in Vietnam. Also during the period of build up of U.S. Navy strength in Vietnam, the Vietnamese Navy itself was growing in coastal and river patrol, river assault, and logistics capabilities with the help of U.S. Navy advisors. In late 1968 operations were begun that combined the capabilities of all three major U.S. Navy task forces, the Vietnamese Navy, and other Free World ground and air forces to strike at enemy strongholds and interdict enemy supply routes. In addition to the combat operations on the many waterways of Vietnam, hundreds of large and small U.S. and Vietnamese Navy logistics craft form a vital link in the flow of supplies to allied forces at remote bases.

Riverine warfare is an extension of sea power. By controlling the high seas the Navy can project its strength along the inland waterways into the heart of enemy territory.

Operation Game Warden by lawofsea

PBR on Patrol by Charles Waterhouse

More on Game Warden here


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