USCGC Point White (WPB-82308)
|Name:||USCGC White (WPB-82308)|
|Owner:||United States Coast Guard|
|Builder:||Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland|
|Commissioned:||18 February 1961|
|Decommissioned:||12 January 1970|
|Fate:||Transferred to Republic of Vietnam Navy as RVNS Lê Đình Hùng (HQ-708), 12 January 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)|
USCGC Point White (WPB-82308) 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 feet (30 m) in length, it was designated as WPB-82308 when commissioned and acquired the name Point White in January 1964 when the Coast Guard started naming all cutters longer than 65 feet (20 m).
Construction and design details
Point White 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 U.S. gallons (5,900 L) and fuel tank capacity was 1,840 U.S. 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 White 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 White was loaded onto a merchant ship, and transported to Subic Bay, Philippines arriving in January 1966 where she was refit 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 White was assigned to Division 13 of Squadron One to be based at Cat Lo Naval Base near Vung Tau, along with Point Cypress, Point Grace, Point Hudson, Point Jefferson, Point Kennedy, Point League, Point Partridge and Point Slocum. 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.
On the night of 9 March 1966 Point White was patrolling the Soài Rạp River in the Rung Sat Special Zone and surprised a Viet Cong junk crossing the river. Upon receiving machine gun fire from the junk, Point White returned fire and rammed the junk, causing it to explode and partially sinking it. After rescuing four of the Viet Cong crew from drowning, it was determined that one of the survivors was the commanding officer of the local training camp. After recovering from extensive burns the man later provided valuable intelligence about Viet Cong operations in the Rung Sat.
While assisting with the refloating of two Navy Swift boats (PCF) that were aground near Hà Tiên, the crew of Point White repaired an evaporator used for the fresh water supply at the Navy base at Hà Tiên
As a part of the Vietnamization Program South Vietnamese Navy crewmen were assigned to the cutter for training purposes beginning in February 1969. After the crew of Point White 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 Lê Đình Hùng (HQ-708), 12 January 1970.
- Scheina, p 69
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- Scotti, p 212
- William R. Wells II, The United States Coast Guard's Piggyback 81mm Mortar/.50 cal. machine gun, Vietnam Magazine, August 1997
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- Larzelere, p 81
- Kelley, p 5-207
- Tulich, p 8
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- 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.
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- 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