Naval Gun Fire Support, NGFS, was an important part of our mission off the Vietnamese coast line. New was in operations along the northern coast of South Vietnam during 1967. From the DMZ to just South of Da Nang harbor at Cape Batangan and inside the Da Nang harbor New provided support with naval gunfire to Marines and RVN army as well. We also provided cover fire for navy swift boat operations close in. Captain Nolan had put New's crew thru rugged training from the time of his assuming command during the 66 yard period and thru Gitmo refresher training. He wanted it done right. He had been there and knew what we were in store for. He soon earned the respect and loyalty of the crew. We were ready.
Our time at North SAR altho long was slow and at times tense duty waiting for bombing missions to complete over the northern areas near Hanoi. When we arrived at the gun line we were ready for what we had trained for. It came too. Night and day shooting. Harrasment and interdiction. The marines on the beach soon came to respect the New's guns for thier accurate placement of rounds. These pages are dedicated to those long days and nights and the " this is not a drill" GQ's. The long hours all put in during missions and refueling, rearming and replenishing supplies. Day and night. Sleep came when we could find a moment. We moved a lot of ammo that year.
The story of the Dupont has been added too. We were the ship Dupont came in to cover for while we manuevered under fire to change course and resume our fire missions.
The following was written by a DuPont crew member:
Joe Hale, was serving on the Uss Dupont when hit 8-28-67
January 1968, the Destroyer Squadron I served with completed a deployment with the Seventh Fleet; during that tour, my ship provided gunfire support to the Third Marine Division and specifically, the Twelfth Regiment in Vietnam at the DMZ.
The primary mission on the gunline was to provide 5” gun support. During daylight hours my ship, the USS Dupont, answered calls for shelling from spotters on the beach, Swift Boats and from spotter planes; after dark, we provided interdiction and harassment fire on preselected targets in addition to answering fire calls in defense of our Marines. We were fired upon on four separate occasions and we fired over 20,000 rounds of 5” shells.
I remember the long hours of firing guns day and night and a constant threat of being fired upon. I remember it as a stressful, very tiring and challenging time but also, through rough weather, hard work and drudgery, I can remember having a realization that I was apart of a committed and continual team effort of service to our United States.
August 28, 1967, while going to the aid of another ship, The Dupont received heavy fire, that resulted in a direct, hit – eight men were wounded and a young Fireman, Frank Bellant, was killed. The Dupont managed to remain on station and continue her gunfire support to her Marines.
Note- USS Dupont DD 941 was a Forrest Sherman class destroyer. The last all gun ships built for the navy. The guns were 5" 54 and had a rapid fire. New's guns were 5" 38 and manually loaded and much more labor intensive. Both were very good guns.
Powder and shell were hand loaded from the magizine up to the guns. Above SN Harlan and Easterbrooke load powder case and projectile in rammer tray.
CO Joe Nolan firing the 5000th round in 1967. A commander when skipper of the New he went on to make Captain and a few years after the New he took command of the USS Halsey CG 23. Captain Nolan had always kept and affection the the gun ships and New held some of his best memories at sea. He praised the crew and always considered the crew was most responsible for his promotion to captain. None of us will ever forget him and were proud to have served under his command.
CIC kept in communication with the spotters ashore or in the air and above RDSN Palmer is taking coordinates and target information for relay to the plotters who plotted the target on a chart and this information is then relayed to fire control and put in the FC computer to position guns. Fire on command or when ready.
One particular marine spotter had a lisp and was a little hard to understand until we got used to him. He was quite good and accurate with his information. This was very important. One particular target in the river was full of VC and giving Marines a fit. New's fire destroyed the boat and the Marine spotter was heard to say, " Man We Gweased Dat One"
The importance of good communications accurate transfer of these coordinates is most evident on targets such as this. It was not in sight of New. It was in the river inland a few miles and over the hill. We depended as much on them as they did us.
A big and important part of the NGFS team is Fire Control. FTG3 Kruse, FTG3 McKee and FTC Studabaker at the computer in IC plot.
West Pac had many good liberty ports
New as an East Coast destroyer had been to the Med, Red Sea/Persian Gulf cruise and Northern Europe, NATO, cruises but the Orient was new and exotic to us. A different world. Many great places to be visited. Hong Kong, Subic Bay Naval Station and the town of Olongopo in the Phillipines as well as a bus trip to Manila. Kaoshung, Taiwan. Yokosuka, Japan. and stops in Guam, Okinawa, Midway for refueling. We were part of the famous 7th fleet that just 22 years earlier had defeated Japan in many hard fought and costly battles in those same waters. Pearl Harbor Hawaii and San Diego were also ports of call. We travelled thru the Panama Canal and had liberty there too. That will be another page.
67 West Pac page 3