|WDE||487||Coast Guard Destroyer Escort|
|DER||387||Destroyer Escort Radar Picket|
From: SWIFTBOAT SAILORS ASSOCIATION
Subject: USS VANCE DER 387
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 08:51:52 -0800
On the 23rd of May 1966 P.C.F. 61 in the area of Song Cau at night picked up on radar a contact and went to GQ.When we turned on the lights on the contact and got close enough people were screaming and jumping over to our boat and tossing their children onto our boat. A few shots were fired in the air but it didn't stop them. We then realized they were sinking fast. There was 157 people on the boat and the weight and the condition of the boat couldn't hold. Crew 7 saved them all but also put ourselves in trouble because of the weight and sea conditions. They were trying to escape charlie. The DER VANCE was in the area and we SLOWLY moved towards her with water coming over the gunnels. The Vance lowered her ladders and took all 157 people aboard. The Vance took them to Qui Nhon where they disembarked and continued on to their destinations. Crew 7 after cleaning the boat of barf from one end of the boat to the other, continued on their normal patrol. Andy Miller crew 7 boat 11 and others An Thoi and Qui Nhon 1965 and 1966. P.S. it was signed Commander Ismay Boat Squadron One.
What is a Swift Boat's capacity This is where I found this story.
On a night Market Time patrol on 23 May 1966, PCF 61, out of DaNang, sighted a fifty-foot junk off the coast of South Vietnam, near Song Cau. Approaching for routine inspection, the Swift found the junk to be greatly overloaded with passengers and in the process of swamping from the weight, high winds and heavy seas. An attempt to take it in tow was unlikely to succeed. The Officer-in-Charge of PCF 61, LTJG James H. Franklin III, went alongside and embarked 157 Vietnamese passengers aboard his fifty-foot craft. The junk sank shortly after the last passenger was taken aboard. Due to the prompt and effective action by the crew of PCF 61 no lives were lost in the incident. PictureThe Swift, with 157 passengers and her crew of 6, proceeded to a U.S. Navy warship in the area, USS Vance (DER 387), to which she transferred the passengers. It was later learned that the people were refugees from Song Cau, Phy Yen District, who put to sea in the junk in order to escape the Viet Cong. They were attempting to reach Tuy Hoa and Nha Trang. The USS Vance debarked them at Qui Nhon, where they were turned over to Vietnamese authorities for transportation to their destination.
Story quoted from a "Letter of Commendation", dated 6 July 1966, from Commander Boat Squadron One, to the crew of PCF 61.
Story donated by Andrew S. Miller, RM3
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