Coastal Security Service

Do Do Camp (Cù Lao Chàm)

Coastal Security Service

The formation and history of Coastal Security Service
Sea Commando - UDT Seal Teams

The Northern Department (under Captain Ngo The Linh – from 1959 to 1963 belonged to Presidential Liaisons Office) had two teams responsible for missions by air and by sea, and they were stationed at Hue and DaNang cities.

1. The Atlantic Team which was stationed at Hue city, was under the supervision of Lieutenant Tuan Ba Tran.  He recruited, trained, and commanded the team to attack Vietnamese Communists by land.

2. The Pacific team which was stationed at DaNang city, was under the command of Captain Oanh Ngoc Ha, then later command by team leader Pang An Nong.  He recruited, trained, and commanded the team to attack Vietnamese Communists by sea.

After November 1963 coup d’etat, the United States and Vietnamese Armed Forces have increased soldiers to protect South Vietnam.  South Vietnam Special Forces expanded and moved to a new base in Nha Trang. It then became Vietnamese Commandos Department reporting to Vietnamese Armed Force Chief of Staff.  At this time, Coastal Security Service (CSS) also was established on April 1, 1964.  The Northern Department’s Pacific and Atlantic teams then merged into CSS. A point to remember is, the CSS is only a ‘front cover’.  Their missions are much more dangerous than the name implied.  CSS conducted all sea commando attack missions beyong parallel 17th, the parralel that divides North and South Vietnam.

Commander Linh The Ngo was the first CSS commander in April 1964 working with CSS first NAD counterpart, Commander Owens.

CSS Headquarter (named White Elephant) was located on 52 Bach Dang Street, Da Nang city.  CSS was stationed with U.S. Combined Studies Division advisory group (CSD) at this location.  CSD were the advisors for the Atlantic and Pacific teams.  Other CSS smaller departments  were stationed along the beaches of My Khe and Tien Sa in Da Nang, Central Vietnam.  Beside CSS, there are two other forces: Naval Special Warfare and UDT Seals Teams; both were responsible for Special Operations by sea.

By the end of 1962, United States sent two destroyers with two Naval Commanders.  However, CSS sailors were comprised mainly of Vietnamese patriotic volunteers, and they were recruited and trained by the South Vietnamese govermnent.  After a slow beginning, CSS personnel have increased rapidly since April 19, 1964.  US Navy also sent a Seal Team (Athena) to advice and train Vietnamese Sea Commandos, with CSS first commando team commanded by Lieutenant Ninh Nhut Lam.  In addition, Ensign Hung and Ngo commanded another team (Romulus) that comprised of 50 Vietnamese Marines.  The remaining Seal Teams are as follows: Cumulus, Cancer, Vega, and Mercury.

After Vietnamese Naval Special Warfare handed over the camps to U.S. Marine from the beach My Khe to Non Nuoc mountain, CSS then combined all forces and re-located to the coastal base near Son Tra mountain.  Since CSS was an commando unit stationed nearest the 17th Parallel along Pacific ocean, Combined Studies Division (CSD) handed over its advisory duties to U.S. Navy Pacific Command (CINPAC).

A new U.S. unit, Naval Advisory Detachment (NAD) from CINPAC, was created to work closely with Vietnamese Coastal Security Service.  This counterpart organization was under the command of Commander Owens.  CSS Headquarter and US/NAD together moved to Son Tra and the camp was named FAY (named after a Commander FAY, first Chief of NAD, killed in action in 1967).

CSS Intelligence Department and Tactical Operations Department were stationed at Lower Base in Tien Sa.  CSS also established two other camps called Phoenix va DoDo at Cu Lao Cham (Paradise Island). At this time, the U.S. also sent a newly designed high-speed destroyers called PTF (Patrol Torpedo Fast) from Subic Bay, Phillippines.  To man these PTF, Vietnamese Navy Headquarter sent in personnel to take charge of these new patrol boats.

In 1965, under the recommendation of the Vietnamese Navy, Navy Commander Thoai Ky Van Ho took over the Command of CCS whileCommander Linh The Ngo was promoted to be the ‘Executive Officer of Strategic Technical Directorate’, in charge of most sea-and-air STD Commando missions (Special Mission Service – STD) in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

At the beginning of 1965, CSS had many missions along parallel 17th causing considerable damage to the enemies.  One of the mission named LOKI.  The purpose of this mission was to catch enemies and brought them back to the camp Phoenix for interrogation.  CSS then forwarded gathered intelligent information to U.S. Navy Ship to torpedo enemies ships and bombarded important land bases and radar installations.

CSS have captured 1200 North Vietnamese fishermen and Communists.  Some were selected and brought back through Phoenix program and trained to become “Sleeping Agents”. The Sleeping Agents usually were the ones who were not happy with the Communists and its party.  “Sleeping Agents” were then transferred to camp DoDo for indoctrination of Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League (SSPL).  SSPL was a front and was operated by Strategic Technical Directorate (STD) agents.  STD Commandos department also focused on information in relation to politics, social-economics and religions in North VN to formulate effective plan for fruther ‘spywar’ missions.  During that time, the Voice of Freedom Radio and Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League Radio used CSS-provided information for propaganda purpose.

After several weeks in captivity, CSS returned the captured to North Vietnam and each person was given essential gifts pack containing radio, blanket, sleeping net, fishing net, etc..  CSS’s PTF destroyer took them back to northern sea, where they would be given a bayboat like to paddle themselves to shore.  When they returned to North Vietnam, North Vietnamese Communists almost always took away their gifts.  By taking away their gifts, it is like taking their lives away, because those things are very much needed in their daily lives, for they are very poor.  For these reasons, many captured enemies felt that they were better treated by the South Vietnamese, and later on would voluntarily supply even more valuable information to CSS.

  • A mission named CADO: the UDT teams invaded and captured many North Vietnamese Communists.  In 1964, a UDT team destroy a water processing plant at Bau Tro (Dong Hoi).  Many times the teams also came ashore to kidnap communist comrades at Dong Hoi and Quang Binh cities.

  • A mission named MINT: during the times the U.S. bombed Northern Vietnam, CSS carried out many special missions from parallel 17th to Thanh Hoa city.  CSS stopped North Vietnamese small supply boats with materials and foods to their islands near North Vietnam.  CSS’s destroyer sank one enemies supply boat on the way to Hon Cop island and took away lots of firearms.  One of the firearms was a Soviet-made 82mm non-recoil gun, the very first ‘new’ firearm collected during the Vietnam War.

  • ‘Psychological’ mission: ‘Psychological’ departnent of the STD Seals Headquarter created different types of flyers with propaganda information.  CSS dropped these flyers and gift packs to the people of North Vietnam under the name of Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League.  In addition, CSS PTF destroyer also dropped gifts by sea-shores or sent them to shore by firing cannon.

  • Special Mission named LURE: Propaganda flyers were dropped in the sea urging North Vietnamese naval captains to escape to the South Vietnam.  CSS used a small boat (NAUTILUS – NI) waiting just South of Parallel 17th.  When the North Vietnamese naval ships escaped to South Vietnam, NI would greet them and gave them special gift packs.  Each sailor would be giving 100 ounce of gold as a reward to start a new life with the Commander and his Assistant received additional rewards. This mission was conducted for three months.

After several years conducting missions, Coastal Security Service had received two prestigious “Meritorious Service Awards” from South Vietnamese Armed Forces.  In 1967, the U.S. Department of the Navy also awarded CSS one special award “Meritorious Service”.  When Navy Commander Thoai Ky Van Ho was promoted to Rear Admiral, Captain Tan Viet Nguyen replaced Captain Thoai Ho’s and held CSS Commander position until April 30, 1975.

The SWIFT and PTF destroyers were returned to Subic Bay, Phillippines before April 30, 1975.

On April 2 , 1975, CSS UDT team had recued 2 downed American pilots when they were held captived by the enemies along Highway 9 near Khe Sanh city.

On April 26, 1972, UDT Seals received their training at Subic Bay, Phillippines before starting a mission. On 1973, UDT (under the command of Admiral Chon Van Tran) were sent into combat action at Hoang Sa island against Communist China Navy by.

In summarization, CSS had made significant contribution against North Vietnamese Communist aggression.  The UDT Sea Commandos had made great sacrifice to fight for freedom in Vietnam, until the fall of Saigon, on April 30, 1975.

Nguyen Thanh Hoai
Summer of CSS Re-Union, 1995
former Coastal Security Service personnel

Coastal Security Service