Underway to Viet Nam Again
Newport News leaving Pearl Harbor December 1968
During the closing months of 1968, NEWPORT NEWS is back in the water off the coast of Viet Nam. Although many faces are new in the Communication Department, the spirit has not changed.
NAVAL GUNFIRE SUPPORT OPERATIONS
On 25DEC NEWPORT NEWS returned to the gunline for her second tour in WESTPAC. During this period she operated as a unit of Task Unit 70.8.9 providing gunfire support for the 7th and 9th ARVN in the VINH BINH Province in the Mekong Delta. Primary mission was the destruction of reinforced VC bunker complexes in that area. At this time air spotters confirmed the following results:
18 bunkers damaged.
Several night harassment missions were conducted for which no damage assessment can be made. The ship was not subjected to hostile fire during these operations.
Moored Portside to USS CANBERRA (CA-70)
With Standard Mooring Lines Doubled
She Makes Good Company
At Alava Pier, Berths A2 and A3
U.S. Naval Station, Subic Bay
Fresh Water and Phone Service From The
SOPA COMCRUDESGRU SEVENTH FLEET
Embarked in CANBERRA He Calls It His
And So My Good Shipmates, I Close With
... and 1969 was born.
From early January 1969 until early June, NEWPORT NEWS was deployed in the waters adjacent to Viet Nam. During this period she proved a valuable source of intelligence with; (1) written reports on Communist Bloc shipping in the Western Pacific; (2) broadcast reports on Market Time, firing locations of small craft in the coastal waters of Viet Nam; and (3) photography and tactical intelligence taken from Soviet trawlers. NEWPORT NEWS also produced a port study on Kagoshima, Japan, a port seldom seen by US Naval vessels.
With the beginning of Exercise Peace Keeper in September, NEWPORT NEWS again began to make its contribution to the intelligence community. During the exercise NEWPORT NEWS turned in reports and photographs of the Okean trawler Class AGI LINZA. The transit of the Baltic Sea was beneficial as we gained photography and electronic intelligence from a Russian Tallin Class destroyer and Madge BE-6 patrol plane (the photography of the plane was termed "the best yet of a BE-6" by Naval Intelligence Center). While in Casablanca NEWPORT NEWS did acquire some photography on a Moroccan destroyer and the general port facilities.
After celebrating New Year's and completing a ten-day upkeep period, the engineering plant was ready for steaming. During the next six months the ship was never cold iron and during one period steamed eighty out of ninety days with all four shafts turning. During the month of June the ship burned 1,754,289 gallons of NSFO. After two months of routine inport time, the engineering plant again responded to operational commitments. The Engineering Department met all requirements during the two month Northern Europe cruise. On 5 November, the engineering plant went cold iron for the remainder of the year except for the brief INSURV period.
At the beginning of the year NEWPORT NEWS was in the port of Subic Bay, making final preparations for a six month deployment in the Western Pacific in support of allied troops in South Viet Nam. During the next six months, the Weapons Department took part in many significant evolutions. The ship had 68 alongside evolutions; included were 21 re-armings, 26 refuelings, 50 highlines, two conreps and five vertical replenishments. Probably the most significant of the evolutions were the vertical replenishments. Two receiving stations were utilized. In addition to the normal station aft of turret III, a forward area was made by training turret I abeam. While this forward station was inherently more dangerous and less efficient, it did increase the replenishment rate significantly and demonstrated the feasibility of two station vertrep. This was the first time the ship had replenished in this manner. The Weapons Department coordinated the efforts of the entire ship in striking stores below on both fore and aft stations. All of these alongside evolutions were accomplished without any serious injury.
The ship helped support various allied units operation on the mainland of South Viet Nam. The guns of the NEWPORT NEWS fired on 1528 gunfire support missions in strikes against the enemy. The ship was credited with destroying or damaging numerous structures, bunkers, fortified trench lines, sampans, ammunition sites and various other strategic areas of vital importance to the enemy. The ship expended a total 10,178 8"/55 cal. projectiles, 8,700 5"/38 cal. projectiles and 50 3"/50 cal. projectiles. While firing a total of 18,928 rounds, not one serious injury occurred.
The ship was awarded the "Top Gun" award for support of the allied forces during the deployment. The ship also fired a new type projectile for the first time during this deployment. The rocket assisted projectile increased the range of the 5"/38 cal. guns by as much as 50%. The Weapons Department was able to adapt easily to the new procedures in shooting this new projectile and the overall effectiveness of this weapon was excellent.
The department as a whole has suffered from a lack of personnel, both during the deployment and after the ships return in July. The fire control division was at approximately 70% strength for the entire year and consequently had to CASREP the ships MK 56 gun fire control system due to lack of personnel.
A strongly documented recommendation was made to upgrade the ships AAW defensive posture by replacing the currently installed MK 5 TDS with the WDE MK 4 and as an extension to replace the AN/SPS 8 and/or AN/SPS-6 with the AN/SPS 39A. All replacement equipment was to have been obtained from stocks in excess of service requirements. This proposal was held in abeyance due to lack of installation funds.
The next major evolution that the Weapons Department was totally involved in was, the ship's cruise to Northern Europe and participation in Operation Peace Keeper. During Operation Peace Keeper the ship was alongside for eight evolutions in which the Weapons Department personnel were directly involved. Included were four refuelings and four high line transfers. The evolutions were again accomplished with no serious injuries.
The year came to a close with the Weapons Department preparing for a much needed overhaul. Many repairs and modifications are expected to be accomplished on the weapons systems as well as various areas of the deck.
Well, there goes the neighborhood!
Photo taken by Harry Spencer's photo gang. In my collection. Also available from the Naval Institute