usav Page, USNUSAV Page

USAV Page
Close Encounter at Night!
by Kerry W. Myers, WS LM-53
(Copyright © 1998)

 

Vietnam, 1968, During the USS New Jersey's RVN exploits, I sailed for two years on the USAV Page, a 338-foot beach discharge lighter, functionally similar to a Navy LST. We were a bunch of seagoing dogfaces, as "USS" is the designation given to Navy Ships with Navy Crews, and "USAV" stands for United States Army Vessel. Anyway, we had just delivered a 2,000-ton load of napalm to the Air Force in Phan Rang and were sailing at night toward Cam Ranh Bay.
      Naval security Regs in force at the time called for all vessels to challenge each other by flashing light signal, day or night, by signaling "What Ship? Where From? Where To? and the "word of the day." Ships unable to answer were immediately reported to Market Time and subject to armed confrontation. Late one night we picked up a radar contact dead ahead and about three miles out began challenging by flashing light. No response. At about two miles out, the skipper called us to General Quarters, while continuing to challenge the unidentified and unresponsive vessel. At about one mile out, the skipper spoke quietly to us on the bull horn. "I don't know what we have out here, but let me say again "Fire only on my command."
      I was on the foredeck strapped into a 20mm cannon. The skipper maneuvered us to within 75 feet of this huge, totally darkened monster of a vessel. As we passed starboard (right side) to starboard we realized that we had encountered the USS New Jersey preparing for a night fire mission. We never saw them fire. Don't know if we messed up their plan. Glad that our guys were not trigger happy that night.

USS New Jersey, Animation by Don Poss, WS LM-01.

Dreadnought
by: Byron Simmons

U.S.S. New Jersey duty was probably the least hazardous duty in Vietnam. Who would want to fire on a ship with that type of fire power? We were off the coast in December on patrol between the coast and tiger island. A gun emplacement on tiger island decided to try their luck and lob a shot at us. I was on the mess deck when Captain Snyder announced over the loud speaker that we were going to condition yellow. Then he came back and told the crew that we had just been fired upon, said it looked like someone had Teed-up and hit a golf ball at us! Our 16 inch guns were at the ready and we were told that the battery would fire on the gun position. A few minutes later we were told that the gun emplacement had been silenced, permanently. Those 16 inch guns were awesome. I have spoken with marines that were in country who either heard the shells go over their heads toward targets or had seen the craters that they left.

The New Jersey received a presidential citation while serving in Vietnam. A marine fire base was being over run during the Tet offensive. We were called on line to offer support. The port five inch batter fired all night long. The marines called for fire right on top of their position, things were really bad for them. The morning after, I woke up feeling like I had not gotten much sleep. As usual, I was up early before reveille. I went to the mess decks and got a cup of coffee and went topside. I thought it was strange that the hatch was closed that went up to the fantail from the mess decks, had to crawl up through the scuttle. When I got up on the fantail, there were five inch 38 shell casings all over the deck, hip deep. I was amazed, at what I saw. I asked a gunners mate, picking up casings, what had taken place. Well he looked at me like I was out of it. Then he proceeded to tell me that we had been in a fire fight all night long. I had slept through the whole war! No wonder I felt like I had not gotten any sleep. My bunk was on the starboard side and that battery had never fired a round. There are some good photos in the cruise books photos (there were 3 of them produced The ships cruise book and then another by Neil Leifer when we decommissioned, I have all three (Being in supply did have some advantage). Dreadnought returns!


 

New Jersey's  9 16-inch guns broadside North Vietnam!


USS New Jersey, Animation by Don Poss, WS LM-01. USS New Jersey, Animation by Don Poss, WS LM-01.

 

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