USCGC Point Grace (WPB-82323)
|Career (United States)|
|Name:||USCGC Point Grace (WPB-82323)|
|Namesake:||Point Grace near Anchorage, Alaska|
|Owner:||United States Coast Guard|
|Builder:||Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland|
|Commissioned:||27 September 1961|
|Decommissioned:||15 June 1970|
|Presidential Unit Citation (Navy)
Navy Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy)
Vietnam Service Medal with 2 silver and 1 bronze service stars
|Fate:||Transferred to Republic of Vietnam Navy as RVNS Hồ Đăng La (HQ-720), 15 June 1970|
|Type:||Patrol Boat (WPB)|
|Length:||82 ft 10 in (25.25 m)|
|Beam:||17 ft 7 in (5.36 m) max|
|Draft:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 × 600 hp (447 kW) Cummins diesel engines|
|Speed:||16.8 knots (31.1 km/h; 19.3 mph)|
|Range:||577 nmi (1,069 km) at 14.5 kn (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph)
1,271 nmi (2,354 km) at 10.7 kn (19.8 km/h; 12.3 mph)
|Complement:||Domestic service : 8 men
Vietnam service : 2 officers, 8 men
• 1 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
• 5 × M2 Browning machine guns
• 1 × 81 mm M29 mortar
USCGC Point Grace (WPB-82323) was an 82-foot (25 m) Point class cutter constructed at the Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay, Maryland in 1961 for use as a law enforcement and search and rescue patrol boat. Since the Coast Guard policy in 1961 was not to name cutters under 100-foot (30 m) in length, it was designated as WPB-82323 when commissioned and acquired the name Point Grace in January 1964 when the Coast Guard started naming all cutters longer than 65-foot (20 m).
Construction and design details
Point Grace was built to accommodate an 8 man crew. She was powered by two 600 hp (447 kW) VT600 Cummins diesel main drive engines and had two five-bladed 42 in (1.1 m) propellers. The main drive engines were later replaced by 800 hp (597 kW) VT800 Cummins engines. Water tank capacity was 1,550 US gallons (5,900 L) and fuel tank capacity was 1,840 US gallons (7,000 L) at 95% full. Engine exhaust was ported through the transom rather than through a conventional stack and this permitted a 360 degree view from the bridge; a feature that was very useful in search and rescue work as well as a combat environment.
The design specifications for Point Grace included a steel hull for durability and an aluminum superstructure and longitudinally framed construction was used to save weight. Ease of operation with a small crew size was possible because of the non-manned main drive engine spaces. Controls and alarms located on the bridge allowed one man operation of the cutter thus eliminating a live engineer watch in the engine room. Because of design, four men could operate the cutter; however, the need for resting watchstanders brought the crew size to eight men for normal domestic service. The screws were designed for ease of replacement and could be changed without removing the cutter from the water. A clutch-in idle speed of three knots helped to conserve fuel on lengthy patrols and an eighteen knot maximum speed could get the cutter on scene quickly. Air-conditioned interior spaces were a part of the original design for the Point class cutter. Interior access to the deckhouse was through a watertight door on the starboard side aft of the deckhouse. The deckhouse contained the cabin for the officer-in-charge and the executive petty officer. The deckhouse also included a small arms locker, scuttlebutt, a small desk and head. Access to the lower deck and engine room was down a ladder. At the bottom of the ladder was the galley, mess and recreation deck. A watertight door at the front of the mess bulkhead led to the main crew quarters which was ten feet long and included six bunks that could be stowed, three bunks on each side. Forward of the bunks was the crew's head complete with a compact sink, shower and commode. Accommodations for a 13 man crew were installed for Vietnam service.
At the request of the United States Navy, in October 1965, she was alerted for service in Vietnam and assigned to Coast Guard Squadron One in support of Operation Market Time along with 8 other Point class cutters. While the crew completed overseas training and weapons qualifications at Coast Guard Island and Camp Parks, California, Point Cypress was loaded onto a merchant ship, and transported to Subic Bay, Philippines arriving in January 1966 where she was refitted for combat service. Shipyard modifications included installation of new single-sideband radio equipment, additional floodlights, small arms lockers, bunks, additional sound-powered phone circuits, and the addition of 4 M-2 machine guns. The original Oerlikon 20 mm cannon was replaced with a combination over-under .50 caliber machine gun/81mm trigger-fired mortar that had been developed by the Coast Guard for service in Vietnam. For service in Vietnam, two officers were added to the crew complement to add seniority to the crew in the mission of interdicting vessels at sea.
Point Grace was assigned to Division 13 of Squadron One to be based at Cat Lo Navy Base near Vung Tau, along with Point Cypress, Point Hudson, Point Jefferson, Point Kennedy, Point League, Point Partridge, Point Slocum and Point White. After sea trials, the Division left Subic Bay for Cat Lo on 19 February 1966 in the company of USS Forster (DER-334), their temporary support ship. They arrived at their new duty station on 23 February and began patrolling the coastal waters near the Rung Sat Special Zone. Duty consisted of boarding Vietnamese junks to search for contraband weapons and ammunition and check the identification papers of persons on board.
While patrolling the Bo De River in December 1966 Point Grace was hit three times by Viet Cong 57mm recoilless rifle fire; twice in the bow, and once amidships. The two hits in the bow exploded in the crew's head and berthing spaces while the amidships hit entered the engine room and damaged a lube oil tank and electrical wiring but failed to explode. No crew injuries occurred. She was hit twice with recoilless rifle fire while on patrol near the Long Toan Secret Zone on 17 September 1967 with no injuries to the crew but damage to the deckhouse and crew berthing.
On 1 March 1968 USCGC Winona (WHEC-65), encountered a trawler eight miles off the coast near the mouth of the Bo De River which ignored warnings to stop and be searched. After a warning shot was fired by Winona and fire returned by the trawler, Point Grace assisted in the destruction of the trawler which exploded before sinking fifty yards off the river's mouth in twenty-five feet of water.
After the crew of Point Grace trained a Vietnamese replacement crew, she was turned over to the Republic of Vietnam Navy as a part of the Vietnamization Program and recommissioned as RVNS Hồ Đăng La (HQ-720) on 15 June 1970.
- "Presidential Unit Citation (Navy)". Presidential Unit Citation (Navy). Mobile Riverine Force Association. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- "Navy Unit Commendation". Navy Unit Commendation. Mobile Riverine Force Association. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- "Meritorious Unit Commendation". Meritorious Unit Commendation. Mobile Riverine Force Association. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- William R. Wells II, The United States Coast Guard's Piggyback 81mm Mortar/.50 cal. machine gun, Vietnam Magazine, August 1997
- Coast Guard Historian website
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- Larzelere, p 130
- Tulich, p.8
- Cutler, Thomas J. (2000). Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis. ISBN 978-1-55750-196-7.
- Kelley, Michael P. (2002). Where We Were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press, Central Point, OR. ISBN 978-1-55571-625-7.
- Larzelere, Alex (1997). The Coast Guard at War, Vietnam, 1965-1975. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis. ISBN 978-1-55750-529-3.
- Scheina, Robert L. (1990). U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis. ISBN 978-0-87021-719-7.
- Scotti, Paul C. (2000). Coast Guard Action in Vietnam: Stories of Those Who Served. Hellgate Press, Central Point, OR. ISBN 978-1-55571-528-1.
- Wells II, William R. (August 1997). "The United States Coast Guard's Piggyback 81mm Mortar/.50 cal. machine gun". Vietnam Magazine. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
- Tulich, Eugene N. (1975). "The United States Coast Guard in South East Asia During the Vietnam Conflict". U.S. Coast Guard History Office. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
- "Point" Class 82-foot WPBs Coast Guard Historian's website