USS HANCOCK ACTIONS
1961- 1963

Dennis F. Milliken, QM3, USNFrom the XO's Office, 2 September 1999:

Jake,

I picked up some good info from Naval Historical files on Naval involvement in SEA, specifically 62-63 as related to Hancock participation as follows:

(1) However, relative calm settled over the country during the latter half of 1961 and early 1962. This lull was shattered when the Communists overran the pro-American defenders of Nam Tha on 6 May 1962, renewing fears for the survival of a non-Communist Laotian government.

Determined to preserve the status quo and at the same time reassure American allies, President Kennedy again ordered the Seventh Fleet into the South China Sea. The Hancock (CVA 19) carrier group and the Bennington submarine hunter-killer group steamed to a position off Danang, and the fleet's Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) carried the Marine Special Landing Force (SLF) into the Gulf of Siam. Then, in mid-May, U.S. ground, air, and naval forces deployed to Thailand.

On the 17th, the amphibious Ready Group landed a Marine ground-air team, which quickly moved forward to Udorn on the Thai-Laotian border. Other units, including elements of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 10, joined this force in succeeding days to form the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

With the forces in the area now more in balance, political compromise was possible. On 23 July 1962, the various Laotian parties formally agreed at the Geneva Conference to form a coalition government headed by the neutralist, Prince Souvanna Phouma.

(2) Training was more effective on the simultaneously conducted 17th parallel patrol. But there too, the allies did not discover significant infiltration, even after boarding and searching or seizing thousands of suspicious vessels.

On 1 August 1962, Minesweeping Division 71 sailed from the area, thus ending the 7-month-long combined patrol. Other Seventh Fleet ships gathered information on the suitability of South Vietnamese beaches for amphibious landings. During January 1962, high-speed transport Cook (APD 130) conducted beach surveys along the South Vietnamese coast from Quang Tri in the north to Vung Tau in the south.

In February and March of the following year, Weiss (APD 135) made a similar transit along the South Vietnamese littoral. On several occasions, the Viet Cong fired on shore parties from the ship. Fleet units also transported American support forces to South Vietnam.

On 11 December 1961, aircraft ferry Core (T-AKV 13) of the Navy's Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) arrived in Saigon and offloaded two Army helicopter transportation companies. At the end of January 1962, Card (T-AKV 40) carried another such unit to Subic Bay. There, it was transferred to amphibious assault ship Princeton (LPH 5), LST 629, and LST 630 for the last leg of the journey to Danang. Soon afterward, on 15 April Princeton steamed with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 362 to a point south of the Mekong Delta. Under cover of Hancock's air group, the squadron flew off Princeton to the unit's subsequent base at Soc Trang.

(3) The worsening situation in South Vietnam during 1963 prompted measures to evacuate Americans in the event of a general emergency.

Saigon street demonstrations by Buddhists and other Vietnamese disaffected with the Diem government occurred throughout the summer. The public self-immolation of several Buddhist monks drew world attention, as did the government's heavy-handed counteractions.

When the political turmoil in the capital reached a peak at the end of August 1963, the Seventh Fleet deployed the Amphibious Ready Group and the Marine Special Landing Force to a point off Vung Tau, where they prepared to take out the 4,600 American noncombatants in the Saigon area.

Although the crisis in the capital abated, the relief was only temporary.

(Hancock steams into the Tonkin Gulf)

In response to the overthrow of the Diem government on 1 November, U.S. naval forces again concentrated off South Vietnam and prepared to ferry evacuees by helicopter from Saigon to transport them by boat from the nearby Vung Tau Peninsula. When the political unrest in the capital once again quickly subsided, the fleet steamed from the South Vietnamese coast and resumed normal operations.

(The last event was the setting for our hypothetical encounter on the bridge during those events of Nov. 1963) See
Dennis Milliken's Encounter with Jake.)

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This historical document was assembled by Ken "Jake" Jaccard, Web Yeoman, USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Memorial located on the internet at http://www.usshancockcv19.com and gathered from various and sundry other historical documents found on this historical ship. Much of the data assembled here and on other history pages on this Website were gleaned from a thorough search; most of which came to us from the U.S. Naval History Website located at http://www.usnavalhistoricalcenter.gov.

The Yeoman does not claim authorship of this data, nor does he claim that all data found here or on other historical documents found on this website are completely factual. He merely is providing access to what has been written and discovered on this historical warship, the U.S.S. Hancock CV/CVA-19 and providing it to our visitors. We do, however, hope that what has been written and displayed here is factual since it is our hope that we are delivering history as it happened and not what was interpreted by the talking heads in our society whose interest is not in history but in sales of history books. Such has never been our aim or goal.