A Fact: Viet Cong Commandos Sank an ‘Aircraft Carrier’

    Sebastien Roblin

    Security, Asia

    The sinking of the Card was stunning victory for the Viet Cong, yet little remembered today

    In the meantime, the Navy sent the salvage vessel USS Reclaimer and the tug USS Tawakoni to Saigon Port to begin pumping water out of the sunken vessel. Despite poor diving conditions and numerous equipment malfunctions, salvage crews raised Card in a little more than two weeks. Soon, both Reclaimer and Tawakoni towed Card out of Saigon harbor on their way to the U.S. Navy port of Subic Bay in the Philippines for repairs. Naval vessels are very flexible ships capable of recuperating from serious battle damage. Apparently, Card was no exception — ships are often “re-purposed” in the U.S. Navy and enjoy long lives in service, Holmes said.

    It was shortly after midnight when two Viet Cong commandos emerged from a sewer tunnel that emptied into Saigon Port, each man carrying nearly 90 pounds of high explosives and the components needed to make two time bombs.

    Their target was the largest American ship in port, USNS Card. An escort carrier that saw distinguished service as a submarine-hunter in the North Atlantic during World War II, during the early morning hours of May 2, 1964, Card was part of U.S. Military Sealift Command.

    The ship supported an escalating military commitment of the South Vietnamese government that occurred well before the Tonkin Gulf Incident. Since 1961, Card had transported both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to the beleaguered nation as well as the U.S. pilots and support crews need to operate them.

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