On April 11 1971 VAL-4 Pilots Bruce Turner And Ed Bastarache Became The First Pilots To Sink A Steel Hulled, Ocean Going, Enemy Vessel Since World War II. Flying Through Night Skies Lit Up By Multi-Colored Tracers From An SL-8 Trawler, The Ponies Received Heavy Enemy Radar-Guided 23MM Along With 51 Caliber And Small Arms Fire, But Were Able To Hit The Ship With Enough Zunis To Disable It's Guns And Eventually Sink It.
Eugene Tulich Was A Young Officer Aboard The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter "Morgenthau" Relates On His Web Page "That was a "fun" night. The NVA trawler put up a lot of ammo trying to make it in to the river. Needless to say with the NVA trawler, 2 cutters, 1 Navy PGM, a VN patrol boat, and all the black ponies shooting at someone along with P3's dropping flares to illuminate the good guys it was a heck of an event. Of course, watching that ammunition laden ship explode was certainly a beautiful sight."
Eugene Recalls April 9, 1971: "We were on patrol in the Gulf of Thailand and in the process of putting together a MEDCAP with the RAN destroyer on station when we received word that an enemy ship was sighted. The MORGENTHAU was ordered to intercept the vessel and we got underway on turbine power. The U.S. Navy patrol aircraft passed off the trawler to MORGENTHAU southeast of Cam Ranh Bay. We proceeded to follow the ammunition laden trawler through various island groups. With the potential for the trawler to change course without being immediately detected on radar, two crewmen were stationed on the mast to look for unnoticed changes by the trawler. The MORGENTHAU went on voice radio silence in order to preclude direction finding by the trawler. The MORGENTHAU was also darken ship with all external lights off. This provided a thrill when crossing the Singapore - Hong Kong shipping lane which had heavy traffic. Some Royal Navy vessels made voice radio calls to "the ship without lights" and tried to raise us on flashing light, but we remained anonymous. We then joined up with USCGC RUSH, USS ANTELOPE, and a VNN patrol boat. The action is described below."
P 120301Z APR 71
FM CTG SEVEN ZERO PT EIGHT
TO USCGC RUSH
CTF ONE ONE FIVE
1. YOUR JOINT SURVEILLANCE AND DESTRUCTION OF INFILTRATION TRAWLER
SUPERBLY PLANNED AND EXECUTED. WELL DONE.
2. FOR MORGENTHAU. YOUR OBVIOUS UNDETECTED SURVEILLANCE WAS SINGLE
MOST INPORTANT CONTRIBUTION LEADING TO SUCCESSFUL DESTRUCTION OF
TRAWLER. THIS IN VIEW TRAWLER'S MOVEMENT THROUGH INDONESIAN ISLAND
GROUPS, POOR WEATHER, AND HEAVY TRAFFIC IN SEA LANES ESPECIALLY
COMMENDABLE AND DESERVING OF HIGHEST PRAISE. AN ADDITIONAL WELL DONE.
R 141441Z APR 71
CTU SEVEN EIGHT PT ONE PT ONE TSN AFB
CTF ONE ONE FIVE
CTG SEVEN ZERO PT EIGHT
CTU SEVEN ZERO PT EIGHT PT FIVE
CTU SEVEN EIGHT PT ONE PT EIGHT
CTG SEVEN TWO PT THREE
CTG ONE ONE SIX PT EIGHT
CTF TWO ONE THREE
CTF SEVEN TWO
COMDT US CGD
CTF ONE ONE SIX
PGM SIX ONE NINE
COM COSRON THREE
DEP COMNAVFORV BINH THUY
CTF 213 PASS TO PGM619
1. FYI, THE FOLLOWING RELEASE WAS CLEARED BY COMUSMACV IMMEDIATELY
AFTER CONFIRMATION ENEMY TRAWLER WAS SUNK AND WAS PROVIDED TO
MAJOR WIRE SERVICES AND AFVN AT APPROXIMATELY 120330H. IT WAS
RELEASED TO REMAINDER OF SAIGON PRESS CORPS AT DAILY BRIEFINGS
QUOTE. REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM AND U.S. NAVAL FORCES SUNDAY NIGHT SANK
A LARGE NORTH VIETNAMESE TRAWLER DETECTED IN SOUTH VIETNAMESE
TERRITORIAL WATERS. THE APPROXIMATELY 160-FOOT ENEMY VESSEL WAS
INTERCEPTED JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT HEADING TOWARD SHORE A FEW MILES
FROM THE SOUTH CHINA SEA COAST OF THE LOWER CA MAU PENISULA, 175
MILES SOUTHWEST OF SAIGON. THE VIETNAMESE NAVY MOTOR PATROL GUNBOAT
HQ-619 AND THE U.S. NAVY PATROL GUNBOAT ANTELOPE CHALLENGED THE
TRAWLER AT 1143 P.M. THE TRAWLER REFUSED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE CHALLENGE
AND ATTEMPTED TO EVADE. AFTER WARNING SHOTS WERE FIRED BY THE ALLIED
CRAFT, THE ENEMY TRAWLER OPENED FIRE WHILE TRYING TO ESCAPE. THE U.S.
COAST GUARD HIGH ENDURANCE CUTTERS RUSH AND MORGENTHAU MOVED INTO
POSITION TO PROVIDE SUPPORT WITH THEIR FIVE-INCH NAVAL GUNS. THE
INCIDENT BROKE INTO A SURFACE ACTION AS THE TRAWLER CONTINUED TO
EXCHANGE FIRE WITH THE U.S. AND VIETNAMESE SHIPS.
THE BLACK PONY OV-10 AIRCRAFT FROM LIGHT AIRCRAFT SQUADRON FOUR
ENTERED THE BATTLE WITH ROCKET AND MACHINE GUN ATTACKS ON THE ENEMY
TRAWLER. SHORTLY BEFORE 2 A.M. MONDAY, RUSH REPORTED THERE WAS A
LARGE EXPLOSION ABOARD THE ENEMY TRAWLER AND THEN IT DISAPPEARED
FROM RADAR SCREENS. A SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS WAS STARTED IMMEDIATELY
AFTER THE TRAWLER SANK. ALL THE VIETNAMESE AND U.S. SHIPS INVOLVED
IN SINKING THE TRAWLER ARE PART OF THE OPERATION MARKET TIME COASTAL
SURVEILLANCE FORCE. RUSH TOOK PART IN A SIMILAR TRAWLER INCIDENT LAST
NOVEMBER 23RD WHEN A 100-FT NORTH VIETNAMESE VESSEL WAS SUNK 75 MILES
SOUTH OF SAIGON SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT. UNQUOTE.
2. SIMILAR STORY WAS RELEASED BY RVNAF IN VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE AT DAILY
BRIEFINGS 12 APRIL.
3. STORY RECEIVED PROMINENT PLAY LOCALLY AND WAS CARRIED BY ALL WIRE
SERVICES AND SEVERAL OTHER MAJOR MEDIA. NO ADDITIONAL DETAILS WERE
PROVIDED WHEN QUERIES WERE ANSWERED.
4. INTEND PREPARE FOLLOW UP STORIES AS APPROPRIATE, IN COORDINATION
WITH CNO VNN.
13 Apr 71 - At Sea
"...the North Vietnamese SL-8 trawler that we assisted in destroying last night was the seventh destroyed in an infiltration attempt since the hostilities started in Vietnam. It is also the largest trawler to be destroyed. We must give the skipper of the trawler credit; he was a skillful navigator and a tough fighter who did not give up in trying to complete his mission."