At 0900 on May 2nd operational control was shifted to COMSEVENTHFLT. At 1952 NEWPORT NEWS moored starboard side to Drydock Point at Apra Harbor, Guam for refueling. NEWPORT NEWS departed at 2352 for the Philippines. She arrived in the PI on May 6th and moored port side to the USS Kiwishiwi (AO 146), at Alava Wharf at 1159. The 11,400 mile transit had been completed in 22 days, 10 hours at an average speed of 23.2 knots. She departed Subic Bay on 8 MAY at 0530 and sped at 30 knots to rendezvous with TU 77.1.2. The following day NEWPORT NEWS met up with TU 77.1.2 at 1830, being the first Atlantic Fleet ship to enter the combat zone directly from the East Coast following the North Vietnamese invasion of South Viet Nam on 1 April, 1972. CO NEWPORT NEWS assumed tactical command of the group, comprised of NEWPORT NEWS, two guided missile cruisers and two destroyers at 2200. Vice Admiral William P. Mack was SOPA aboard the SEVENTH FLEET flagship USS OKLAHOMA CITY (CLG 5). TU 77.1.2 proceeded to Haiphong Harbor for the first multi-cruiser-destroyer surface strike since World War II, Operation CUSTOM TAILOR. At 0200 10MAY NEWPORT NEWS went to General Quarters. Firing commenced at 0247 in the first surface action against the Haiphong Harbor complex. The targets in the operation were four miles south of Haiphong and along the Do Son Peninsula. At 0252 NEWPORT NEWS received hostile fire that totalled 100 rounds, but sustained no damage. During the action NEWPORT NEWS fired 77 8-inch and 40 5-inch rounds and cause one secondary explosion. After her two fire missions she withdrew from action and TU 77.1.2 departed the area at 0315. Late in the morning and early afternoon NEWPORT NEWS refueled from the USS GUADALUPE (AO 32). Again at 2200 the group fired upon coastal targets until securing at 2353.
NEWPORT NEWS resumed firing a few hours later from 0318 to 0322; received nine rounds of hostile fire. At 0900 she departed the waters of North Viet Nam to report to TU 70.8.9 in Military Region I, where she supported South Viet Nam ground forces in Quang Tri Province. Unleashing her guns for three mission at 1740 and concluding at 2115 she fired 246 8-inch rounds. The fire resulted in 18 secondary explosions, 13 fires, destruction of six structures and two artillery pieces. NEWPORT NEWS remained in MR I until 26MAY.
212 8-inch rounds were fired during two missions on 12MAY, resulting in four secondary explosions, destruction of seven structures and the setting afire of an ammo and fuel dump. On the 13th she participated in the first South Vietnamese counteroffensive since the invasion by the North. At 0900 the ship provided gunfire support for the South Vietnamese heloborne and amphibious assault in Operation Song Than 5-72. The action saw NEWPORT NEWS fire 263 8-inch and 243 5-inch rounds at enemy troop concentrations and other targets. The firing resulted in destruction of 10 structures, damage of 15, and five enemy troops were killed in action. When firing near the DMZ that night 150 rounds of hostile fire were received, with no damage. The next day there were three firing missions totaling 480 8-inch and 39 5-inch rounds NEWPORT NEWS operated in conjunction with air strikes to prepare positions for an offensive by the Republic of Viet Nam's 369th Marine Corps Brigade. One secondary explosion was logged. While not firing in support of Operation Song Than 5-72 NEWPORT NEWS rearmed from the USS VESUVIUS (AE 15), at 1516. Support of the VNMC units continued through the following day as the ship fired six missions. Two-hundred four main battery and 247 secondary battery rounds were expended as NEWPORT NEWS created one secondary explosion.
On the 16th NEWPORT NEWS began the day by rearming from the VESUVIUS at 0728. Upon completion of the rearming she vertical replenished (vertrepped) with the USS MOUNT HOOD (AE 29) at 1159. NEWPORT NEWS returned to fire in support of VNMC units. While firing at enemy boats and personnel the ship caused one secondary explosion. NEWPORT NEWS fired 163 8-inch and 4 5-inch rounds during the day's action. Heavy action occurred during the next day, the ship taking part in seven missions and firing 491 and 65 8-inch and 5-inch respectively. She destroyed two bunkers and caused 12 secondary explosions. Early the next morning she rearmed from the VESUVIUS. At 1344 she proceeded to transfer personnel to the USS PYRO (AE 24). Late that night she fired 20 8-inch rounds in ground support action. Hostile fire was received on three occasions, totaling 25 rounds. The ship began the 19th with a refueling with the USS CAMDEN (AOE 2) at 0831. Returning to station NEWPORT NEWS again supported VNMC units and fired four missions totaling 251 8-inch and 103 5-inch rounds. Much of the fire was directed at 130mm enemy guns, and the ship started several small fires in the process of shelling a truck convoy. Eighteen rounds of hostile fire were logged. Six missions were fired on the 20th, and 150 8-inch and 270 5-inch shells were expended. No ground damage assessment(GDA) was available. The following day she supported VNMC units firing two missions and 48 8-inch shells.
When not firing NEWPORT NEWS departed the line to rearm from the USS KANSAS CITY (AOR 3) at 1100 on the 22nd. She returned to station later in the day and fired three missions totaling 159 8-inch rounds. On the 23rd action picked up considerably as the ship received hostile fire totaling 12 rounds. NEWPORT NEWS was not hit by the fire. The ship fired seven missions throughout the day totaling 219 8-inch and 266 5-inch rounds. One structure and an artillery piece were destroyed by the fire, and a bridge was damaged. Admiral Bernard Clarey, CINCPACFLT, visited the ship for a briefing from 1330 to 1430. General Quarters signaled the beginning of the day on the 24th at 0503. Supporting Operation Song Than 6-72, NEWPORT NEWS supplied firepower as it had for another amphibious operation just two weeks before. The assault was staged along the coast of Quang Tri Province by brigades of the Vietnamese Marines. The day marked the highest total firing for Song Than 6-72 as the ship fired more than 1,200 rounds in conjunction with air and artillery strikes. More than 40 targets were fired upon during the five missions for the day. During the firing of 402 8-inch and 892 5-inch rounds, 16 fires were started, one of which was primary and two were rated as large. Two staging areas were also destroyed during the action. Seven rounds of hostile fire were reported.
In the morning of the following day NEWPORT NEWS rearmed and highlined personnel with the VESUVIUS at 0810. Returning to the line she fired three missions and 177 8-inch rounds in support of the VNMC. An uncounted number of dead were spotted after the ship fired on tanks and troops. A dawn mission on the 26th marked the beginning of the day for NEWPORT NEWS, as she fired 213 8-inch rounds, causing one secondary explosion. After a vertrep at 0951 and rearming with the VESUVIUS NEWPORT NEWS steamed north to join TU 77.1.1 for Linebacker strikes through 3JUN. General Quarters was called at 2000 and continued through the next morning, securing at 0454. Three missions were fired and 185 8-inch rounds were expended. Two hostile fire incidents accounted for 20 rounds and caused no damage. In the mid-morning the ship refueled from the CAMDEN at 1053. General Quarters for gunfire strikes commenced at 2030 and continued until the next day. Ten rounds of hostile fire were received. General Quarters was secured at 0259, but was again called in the late evening at 2000 until 2146. Three missions were fired during the day and 114 8-inch rounds were expended. Thirty minutes into the 29th GQ was again called and the ship secured at 0500. Three missions were fired and accounted for 120 8-inch rounds. General Quarters was also instituted at 2030 until 0130 on the 30th. Two incidents of hostile fire amounted to 78 rounds. Hostile fire continued with two incidents totaling 30 rounds. The ship escaped damage once more. NEWPORT NEWS was fired four missions and 219 8-inch shells, triggering 22 secondary explosions and starting three fires. The next day activity was somewhat curtailed, although the NEWPORT NEWS' three missions and 96 8-inch rounds resulted in four secondary explosions. At 1335 the ship refueled from the USS SAVANNAH. At 2115 GQ commenced and continued through the next morning.
Three firing missions were on the docket for the first day of June as the ship fired 124 8-inch shells and caused six secondary explosions. GQ secured at 0414. At 1350 she rearmed from the USS KILAWEA (AE 26). General Quarters was called next at 2015 and would continue until 0006 AM the next day. Hostile fire again occurred in two separate incidents involving 70 rounds. One-hundred twenty 8-inch rounds were fired during the two GQ periods in the latter part of the day, 0600 to 0803 and 1315 to 1435. Three secondary explosions were caused by the ship's fire. On the 3rd the ship did not fire throughout the day. Rather, it was in transit and operated in surveillance of water borne logistics craft. While performing this duty NEWPORT NEWS operated in company of USS STODDARD (DDG 22) and USS MACKENZIE (DD 836). At 1232 NEWPORT NEWS highlined personnel, refueled and replenished by helicopter from USS SAVANNAH (AOR 4).
Proceed to June 1972