The Vietnamese Navy grew from 18,000 men in the fall of 1968 to 32,000 men at the end of 1970. By 1973 the Navy had 42,000 men and 1500 ships, boats and other craft.
The RVN Navy River Force began with naval assault divisions ("dinassaut"), on the French model, which were restyled River Assault Groups (RAG). The 21st to 26th were each organized with one command boat, one monitor, five armored LCMs, six armored LCVPs, and six patrol boats (19 vessels). The 27th had one command boat, one monitor, six armored LCMs, and 10 river patrol craft. Each had about 150 personnel.
The command boat, was a modified LCM [Landing Craft, Medium], armed with two 20mm cannon, two .30 and two .50 caliber machine-guns, and one 81mm mortar.
A monitor was also a modified LCM, with one 40mm and two 20mm cannons, a .50 caliber machine-gun, and an 81mm mortar. The 40mm cannon was in a semi-enclosed turret in the front.
The basic armored LCM (LCM6) had three 20mm cannons and two .50 caliber machine-guns, along with a crew of seven. It could carry 120 troops or 32 tons of cargo.
The armored LCVP [Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel] had one 20mm cannon and three .30 caliber machine-guns. It could carry 36 troops or 3.5 tons of cargo.
The STCAN/FOM patrol boat (a French design) had a crew of eight, one .50 caliber and three .30 caliber machine-guns.
The river patrol craft (RPC) used in the 27th RAG had two twin .50 caliber and one .30 caliber machine-gun, and could move at 14 knots as opposed to the 10 knots of the STCAN/FOM patrol boat.
The River Force also included a River Transport Escort Group (RTEG) and a River Transport Group (RTG). The RTEG had four monitors, six STCAN/FOM patrol boats, and 20 armored LCVPs. The RTG had seven LCUs [Landing Craft, Utility; a LCU had two 20mm cannon].
Additional craft were provided, so that by early 1968, six new RAGs (28th Ė 33rd) were formed, although with 11 rather than 19 craft. The 27th RAG, however, was increased to 22 craft. The dispositions at that point were:
21st RAG My Tho
22nd RAG Saigon
23rd RAG Vinh Long
24th RAG Tan An
25th RAG Can Tho
26th RAG Long Xuyen
27th RAG Saigon
28th RAG Saigon
29th RAG Can Tho
30th RAG Saigon
31st RAG Vinh Long
32nd RAG Long Xuyen redeployed to Thau Thien (north of Hue) Jul 1968
33rd RAG My Tho
River Patrol Group 51 was formed in Jun 1968, containing the first eight PBRs [Patrol Boat, River] turned over by the U.S. Navy; it was assigned duty on the Long Tau and Dong Nai rivers.
A PBR, built of fiberglass, had a top speed of 25 knots and was armed with two .50 caliber machine-guns in the front and a .30 caliber machine-gun aft.
From 1968 to 1970, the RAGs were grouped into riverine assault interdiction divisions (RAIDs) and river patrol groups (RPGs). These forces continued to receive additional equipment, especially that used by departing U.S. Navy elements.
By Dec 1970, for example, the USN transferred to Vietnam 293 PBRs and 224 riverine assault craft.
The South Vietnamese Navy also had a Sea Force (renamed 1 Jan 1966 as the Fleet Command). There were four naval zones, with a varying mix of patrol craft (PC), patrol motor gunboats, and coastal minesweepers (totals of seven, 48, and 12, respectively?), along with 12 motor launch minesweepers. The Sea Force also had five LSSLs [Landing Ship Support, Large] and six LSILs [Landing Ship Infantry, Large], of which two and five, respectively, were kept in Mekong waterways. Supply was handled by three LSTs [Landing Ship, Tank] and seven LSMs.
An LSSL had a 3" gun, three twin 40mm guns, and four 20mm guns.
An LSIL could carry 12 tons of cargo or 76 troops, but was normally used for command and fire support on the rivers.
An LST carried eight 40mm guns.
With the redesignation to Fleet Command, the force was reorganized along functional lines:
Flotilla I had Squadron 11 (submarine chasers [PC] and escorts), Squadron 13 (motor gunboats), Squadron 15 (LSSLs), and Squadron 17 (minesweepers).
Flotilla II had squadrons 22 and 24 (landing ships, landing craft, coastal oilers, and other logistic support vessels).
From 1965 to 1968 Fleet Command added three more LSSLs, eight PGMs, and 6 LCM(M)s.
There was also a Coastal Force, with a variety of motorized and un-motorized junks. This declined in use and strength over time.
Vietnamese Navy Operational Commands, Jul 1970
Task Fleet 21: (SEALORDS Operations)
Task Force 210: Special
Task Force 211: Amphibious
Task Force 212: Tran Hung Dao I
Task Force 213: Coastal
Task Force 214: Giant Slingshot
Task Force 215: Fleet Command
Task Force 216: Ready Deck
Task Force 217: 4th Riverine Area
Task Fleet 22: (Non-(SEALORDS Operations)
Task Force 221: 1st Coastal Zone
Task Force 222: 2nd Coastal Zone
Task Force 223: 3rd Coastal Zone
Task Force 224: 4th Coastal Zone
Task Force 225: 3rd Riverine Area
Task Force 226: 4th Riverine Area
Task Force 227: Rung Sat Special Zone
Task Force 228: Capital Military District
The departing U.S. Navy turned over many of its craft to the RVN Navy. River and patrol craft in the RVN Navy included:
26 Coast Guard patrol boats (WPB)
108 Swift inshore coastal patrol boats
293 river patrol boats (PBR)
84 assault support patrol boats (ASPB)
42 monitors Mk 5 [built as such in 1969]
22 monitors [modified LCM 6]
100 armored troop carriers [modified LCM 6]
8 command and control boats (CCB)
27 river patrol craft
Other vessels included:
1 DER radar picket (twin 76.2mm guns, two 81mm mortars, two 12.7mm machine guns) transferred Sep 1971
1 ex-USCG vessel (127mm gun, two 81mm mortars) transferred 1971
2 fleet minesweepers (twin 57mm AA, twin 37mm AA, three twin 23mm AA) transferred 1962 and Jun 1970
18 PGM patrol boats (40mm AA, two twin 20mm AA, two twin 12.7mm machine guns)
1 or more fire-support gunboats (LSSL [Landing Ship Support, Large])
8 MSB-5 minesweeping boats transferred 1970
8 MSR riverine minesweepers built 1970 (mine warfare version of ASPB)
8 river minesweepers (MSM: Minesweeping Monitor) transferred 1970
3 LSTís transferred 1962, Jul 1969 and Apr 1970 (twin 40mm AA, 4/5 20mm AA, four .50-caliber machine guns)
14 LCU 1466-class (two twin 20mm AA; 167-ton cargo capacity) transferred 1954-70
1 LCU 501 class (two twin 20mm AA; 150-ton cargo capacity) transferred 1955