Week of March 19
In late February 1965, a U.S. helicopter pilot spotted a 130-foot North Vietnamese vessel anchored in South Vietnam's Vũng Rô Bay. Investigators discovered the ship was carrying arms, ammunition, and other war materiel intended for the Việt Cộng. By March 1965, the Vũng Rô Bay incident led to the start of Operation MARKET TIME and the establishment of the U.S. Coastal Surveillance Force (Task Force 115). The task force's mission was to halt Communist infiltration of South Vietnam by sea.
Operation MARKET TIME lasted for seven years. During that time, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft of Task Force 115 patrolled 1,200 miles of South Vietnam's coastline from the Demilitarized Zone to the Cambodian border. They intercepted enemy vessels, searched junks, sampans, and other watercraft suspected of supplying the Việt Cộng, transported allied troops, and evacuated refugees.
MARKET TIME and Task Force 115 were highly successful at curbing Communist seaborne infiltration of South Vietnam. American participation in MARKET TIME lasted until 1971, when the United States transferred responsibility for the operation to the South Vietnamese Navy.1
1Edward J. Marolda, By Sea, Air, and Land: An Illustrated History of the U.S. Navy and the War in Southeast Asia (Wash DC: Naval Historical Center, 1994), 65, 143-61, 318; Spencer C. Tucker, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History (2nd edition, Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-CLIO, 2011), 705-6; Spencer C. Tucker, ed., Almanac of American Military History, Vol. I, (ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, Calif.: 2013), 1971. Alex Larzelere, The Coast Guard at War: Vietnam, 1965-1975 (Wash DC: Naval Institute Press, 1997), 1-7. Edward J. Marolda, U.S. Navy and the Vietnam War: The Approaching Storm: Conflict in Asia, 1945-1965 (Wash, DC: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2009), 75-76.