Viet Cong special forces against the old aircraft carrier. The destruction of the ship "Card"

Trying to keep afloat its puppet illegitimate regime in South Vietnam, the United States in the 1961 year was forced to sharply increase the volume of military assistance to the Saigon regime. By that time, the United States still had a lot of canned ships and ships of the Second World War. As military assistance included more and more planes and helicopters for the South Vietnamese regime, the US rationally decided to use its old escort aircraft carriers, or, as they were called, "jeep carriers" as transport ships. Now, however, they did not have to fight. Therefore, the ships were transferred from the Navy to the Pentagon Transport Command, changing the “combat” designation of the USS to the USNS, under which the vessels of the US auxiliary fleet navigate the seas.

Viet Cong special forces against the old aircraft carrier. The destruction of the ship "Card"

The Card (USNS "Card") carries the F-102 supersonic interceptors. Perhaps in Japan, Germany in the Philippines or in South Vietnam, where they also served

One of the first such ships were two Bog class escorts. The first was “Coor” (“Core”), and the second of the same type “Card” (“Card”). These ships, once hunting German submarines in the Atlantic, were no longer of combat value. But on the other hand, their large flat decks made it possible to place a large number of combat aircraft and helicopters on them, and the hangar allowed loading a lot of military equipment - from trucks to armored personnel carriers. However, they carried containers.

Coor carries combat aircraft: Skyhawks, Skywrights, and even the transport C-47 Skytrain

Soon, jeep carrier trips became a routine. They stably delivered equipment and equipment to warring Vietnam. The war was gaining momentum and they had enough work. As you know, a significant mass of South Vietnamese supported the Viet Cong and North Vietnam. Given the fact that South Vietnam was ruled by stupid and incompetent military dictators set up by the Americans, in fact brutal kings carefully killing competitors in the struggle for power and not escaping reprisals against the civilian population, this was not surprising. For many years, people in impotent rage watched as foreigners enter their country weapon, which was to be used to kill their compatriots.

But after some time, among them were those whose rage was no longer so impotent.

65-th group of special operations of Vietnam

Like many national liberation movements, the Viet Cong imagined a mixture of party and partisan army. At the same time, the presence of a patron country in the north with a large mobilization resource and a poorly equipped but brave army left a definite imprint on the actions of the Viet Cong against puppets of the United States, and then the Americans themselves. Not having the resources to conduct an open war in the cities, the Viet Cong created small battle groups that were supposed to conduct sabotage, kill Americans and collaborators, and conduct reconnaissance. These were, in fact, battle groups of the underground, which fought against the pro-Western regime. Of course, this happened in many countries of the world both before and after. But the Vietnamese specifics were such that these people had where to get extremely specific training. So, for example, there were many partisan movements in the world, but not so many where there were combat swimmers and miners who could put magnetic mines under water. The Viet Cong, “tied up” to North Vietnam, had no problems with the training of such specialists.

The domestic reader has little idea of ​​how seriously North Vietnam approached the conduct of special operations. So, the Vietnamese practiced throwing sabotage groups into the American rear with the help of aviation - who else in the world was able to do this? Vietnam was one of the first countries in the world to have its own special operations forces - the Dak Kong Special Forces. In any Vietnamese offensive, the use of special forces was very wide.

Although strictly formally the date of foundation of the “Duck Kong” was 19 of March 1967 of the year, in fact, these special forces grew out of units that, with sudden raids without heavy weapons, cut out French strongholds during the First War in Indochina. It was during the 1948-1950 years that the foundation for what later became the "Duck Kong" - troops consisting of extremely well trained and motivated to fight people with amazing personal courage. It was in the war with the French that Dak Kong Bo appeared — army special forces in the usual sense, and Duck Kong Nuok — combat swimmers. And also - “Duck Kong beats the dong” - specially trained underground saboteurs, capable of waging a guerrilla warfare without external support for years and focused mainly on operations in the urban environment.

In 1963, in one of the Dak Kong military units, 27-year-old activist and patriot Lam Song Nao received training on the program of such a unit.

Nao was a native of Saigon. He left to work in 17 years to save himself from the poverty in which his family was. Many of his relatives were killed by the French, which gave rise to hatred of foreign occupiers among the young man. From his youth, he supported the Viet Cong and the idea of ​​uniting Vietnam under Vietnamese authority, and as soon as he had such an opportunity, he joined this organization. Next was sending to saboteurs courses and the hardest combat training at Duck Kong.

Soon he again ended up in Saigon, where his parents still lived, and fell into one of the units subordinate to the command of the Saigon district organization of the Viet Cong - Saigon-Gia-Dinh. This unit was the 65 group of special operations — in fact, several specially trained volunteers, such as Nao, who were subordinate to Saigon-Gia-Dinh. Nao, as a person who received special training, was appointed its commander. The detachment was supposed to conduct reconnaissance and sabotage in the port of Saigon, where Nao's father worked. His father helped him get into the port. Thanks to this, Nao was able to freely move around the port.

According to the instructions of the command, it was intelligence that was the main task of the group, of which Nao was a part, but soon the plans changed

In the fall of 1963, the command decided to undermine the Coor. The former aircraft carrier was to unload at the end of the 1963 of the year, and Nao, who received orders to carry out this combat mission, began to work out a plan of operation. He had to design and produce a mine for himself. The idea of ​​the operation was to undermine the ship in the port, which was supposed to give a good propaganda effect, to complicate the enemy’s supply, at least temporarily and could kill someone. In the case of extreme luck, the cargo could also be damaged. The mine was heavy and huge, more than 80 kilogram of weight, equipped with trinitrotoluene. For little Vietnamese, such a weight was an almost unsolvable problem, and Nao was forced to involve a fighter trained by him named Nguyen Van Kai in the operation. The latter was to help him drag the charges to the ship, and then Nao, who had undergone special training, could install them himself.

But how to get to the ship? Security usually blocked all approaches to these transport, which is vital for the South Vietnamese authorities. Vietnamese workers at loading were carefully inspected. And in general, the port was full of soldiers and security guards - it was unrealistic to drag along with almost ninety kilograms of explosives. In addition, the district command wanted none of the Vietnamese workers to die in the blast. This additionally complicated the operation, requiring it to be carried out at night, when there were no extra people in the port.

Nao was looking for a way to deliver bombs to the water. Everything in water would be simple, but the path to water was a problem.

And again the father helped - he drew the attention of his son to the fact that a two-kilometer sewer tunnel passes through the port area. Nao carried out a reconnaissance of the tunnel and found out that it really can be reached with cargo to the water.

But again, not without problems. Unlike household sewage, this tunnel was used for industrial wastewater and was filled with chemically aggressive waste. It was possible to breathe there for some time, but a chemical burn was inevitable if dirt got into the eyes of the tunnel.

And, as luck would have it, part of the path had to be overcome by diving into this aggressive slurry. Of course, if you close your eyes tightly, and then wipe them somehow and somehow, then there were chances, but on the whole, the risks went off scale already at the stage of delivering bombs to the target.

However, there was no other way to bypass the guard.

Nao carefully considered another weak point in his plan - the delivery of mines to the port in principle. It was theoretically possible to carry it into the territory without inspection, but it was impossible to predict whether the search would be. There was already pure luck, but he wanted to take a chance.

Three times he conducted reconnaissance of the tunnels to make sure that everything worked out, and finally he was able to convince the command that his plan was real. Soon, his first combat operation was approved.

First approach

On December 29 of 1963 of the year, in the early evening, Nao and Kai secretly pulled bombs into the tunnel and moved towards the river. They managed to get to the water unnoticed. Nao set the timers in the bombs on 19: 00, by then there were no workers on the ship. Secretly and quietly, they brought explosives to the side of the ship, and Nao, trained to handle mines, mounted them on his hull. No less secretive fighters returned back. The tension among the saboteurs was growing, they were expecting the ship to be blown up, their first combat success, and now the time, and ... nothing happens. At all.

It was a failure. Nao knew that sooner or later they would inspect the ship underwater - most likely when they entered the first American port. Not only will the mine fall into the hands of the Americans and allow them to get some intelligence, but the fact that the 65 group will act in the port will become clear. That would be a disaster.

Nao that day, apparently, was glad that the mine was installed in the evening, because he had a whole night to correct the error. Soon after the explosion he wanted did not occur, he was on his way back to the ship. In complete darkness, Nao found a whole mine on the hull. Now it had to be deactivated and removed. Nao recalled:
“I was considering two options. The first is that the bomb will explode when I throne it and I die. That was acceptable. The second - I’ll be caught with explosives. And I was afraid of that. ”

Oddly enough, but nothing happened. The mine was detached from the ship and pulled out to a safe place through the tunnel. Moreover, Nao and Kai were able to take her back from the port.

Some minus was that Kai still caught toxic dirt in his eyes, and it was not clear how it would end for him.

Soon, the Coor was leaving for a new load of weapons to kill the Vietnamese, and Nao was forced to look at it.

The Kour loads the Skyrader attack aircraft onto a barge in the port of Saigon. 1965

No special disciplinary action was taken against him: it turned out that the mines had low-quality batteries in the timers. Soon this problem was solved, and Nao began to plan a new attack.

I had to wait a long four months. But finally, one of the agents of the Viet Cong in the port, Do Thoan, informed Nao the arrival date of the next transport, Karda. The ship was to stand at the berth 1 on May 1964.

Impact on air transport "Card"

Kai's vision problems have not disappeared. He could see, but there was no question of using him in special operations. Fortunately, he was not the only one Nao taught. Instead, he went another fighter - Nguyen Phu Hung, known among his own under the shortened nickname Hai Hung.

Now Nao was more careful in planning. There shouldn’t be mistakes; Americans will not be careless forever.

As promised To Doan, the ship came to Saigon 1 May 1964 year.

This time, Nao thought out everything much better.

First, a safer route for delivering bombs to the tunnel was chosen. Nao and Hung were supposed to deliver mines in a boat on the river. The river was controlled by the river police, but, firstly, these people, like everyone who worked for the Saigon regime, were corrupt, and secondly, in some places the boat could be driven into swamps where a police boat would not go. With all the risks, it was safer than rushing into the port with explosive devices openly, like last time. A certain risk was in bringing mines to the descent into the tunnel, but Nao and Hung planned to imitate the fact that they were doing some work in the tunnel.

Secondly, Nao remade mines - now there are two of them, one with an American explosive, C-4, and this time Nao knew for sure that they were working.

On the morning of May 2 of 1964, the Card was under load. The day before, he unloaded military supplies for the South Vietnamese army, and now he took on board old helicopters to send them to the United States for repair.

Then in the morning, Nao and Hung, loading mines on the boat, slowly sailed on it along the Saigon River towards the harbor.

Near the Tu-Tiem Peninsula, a police boat chased after them. Fortunately, the shores in this place were swampy and Nao pushed the boat into the reeds, where the boat could not enter. The truth and the Viet Cong are now trapped.

Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon). View of the Tu Tiem Peninsula today. And then there was just a swamp, however, it is clear that it is not drained to the end. Port - Right

The police, seeing two ragged men, demanded to explain who they were and where they were going, and also to bring the boat out into the open water for a search. A critical moment has come in the whole operation.

But the saboteurs this time smiled luck. Nao was immediately able to convince the police of his legend, which was the next.

They, Nao and Hung are port thieves. According to them, an American ship is standing in port under unloading. They want to steal 20 radios and clothes for sale from him.

The police did not think for a long time. Under the promise of sharing prey with them on the way back, Nao received permission to sail further, but one of the police officers jumped into the boat, saying that he would watch that the thieves did not “throw” them after the theft and share the prey. Nao had two options. The first is to kill this policeman a little later. The second is to try to give him a bribe so that he leaves. Nao said the load would be heavy, and because of the extra passenger in the boat, they would not be able to take out everything that they planned. But he, Nao, is ready to give an “advance” to the 1000 of the Vietnamese Dong so that the boat can be passed on without a passenger on board. If the police did not agree, they would have to kill one of them, but they agreed. The money was given immediately, and the police warned that he would meet them at the exit from the port. It was luck, and saboteurs took full advantage of it.

Nobody hindered them further, and everything went according to plan. Swamps, the outskirts of the port, a smelly sewer, again chemically aggressive dirt, water ... Nao, who did not want to fail, sailed to the ship for reconnaissance to check if there was an ambush on their way, and Hung remained with mines in the sewer. Then Nao returned and in the next swim the saboteurs had already gone with their deadly cargo.

This time, Nao, who understood that it would take a lot more time to leave the operation site, set the timer to 3 at one in the morning. This gave them a reserve of time in case of problems with the departure.

And there were minor problems - the police, waiting for the "thieves" with the booty intercepted their boat, as they were going to. But there were no stolen radios and bags of things. The boat was empty. Nao simply guiltily spread his hands and said that nothing happened. Having overshadowed the allegedly unlucky thieves a bit, the police released them, content with the previously received one thousand dongs.

The time calculation turned out to be accurate. Nao returned home only in 2.45. And in 3.00, as planned, there was a booming explosion in the port of Saigon.

The next morning, Nao and Hung came to work, as if nothing had happened.


The explosion punched an 3,7x0,91 meter hole in the Karda’s board, damaged cable routes and pipelines, and also led to flooding of the engine room. Despite the very rapid start of the survivability struggle on the part of the crew, the amount of water taken on board led to the ship's feed leaving 15 meters deep underwater and sinking to the bottom. Part of the cargo was damaged. Regarding the losses, American sources give conflicting data - from several wounded to five dead civilians.

The restoration of the Karda’s buoyancy took 17 days, after which a couple of US rescue ships that specially arrived in Saigon began transporting it to Subic Bay, the Philippines, where it was to be repaired. Kard could return to flights only in December 1964, after about seven months. The costs of lifting and repairing it were very serious.

"Card" in the morning after the explosion

For two young people, only one of whom received military training in the real troops, this was a success.

The Americans understood that the propaganda effect of this operation would be very useful for the Viet Cong and harmful for them, so they did everything possible to hide information about what had happened. When it became impossible to hide it, the US Navy admitted that there was a diversion in the port, and one of the American ships was damaged.

It is worth saying that the Americans later thoroughly investigated this sabotage and introduced security measures that made the repetition of such sabotage impossible.

American article on Cow unloading precautions. These measures were introduced after the undermining of Karda.

The Vietnamese, however, spun the operation to the fullest. The Vietnamese news and reports said that the saboteurs of the "Southern Liberation Army" no more, no less than sank an American aircraft carrier, the first after the Japanese in World War II.

The truth was in the middle, as usual. The ship sank, but did not drown, its damage was not fatal, but significant, and yes, it was technically still an aircraft carrier, it was just used a long time ago as a non-combat vehicle, however, very important at that particular moment.

Vietnamese postage stamp dedicated to sabotage on the "Card"

Lam Song Nao heard on the radio how Ho Chi Minh and Nguyen Wo Ziap noted this operation, and Nao was very proud of what and how he had done this time. Before the Tonkin incident, which entailed US open intervention in a sluggish intra-Vietnamese conflict, and its transformation into a nightmare war in all of Indochina with millions of dead, carpet bombing, defoliants burned by forests and hundreds of millions of unexploded bombs, mines and shells left behind Asian "forces of good." At the time of the Karda explosion, the war had not even really begun. But except the White House and the Pentagon, no one knew about this yet ...

Lam Song Nao continued his service as a saboteur. In 1967, a South Vietnamese counterintelligence agent spotted him and he was arrested. The next five years of his life he spent in prison, in custody, periodically diluted with languid and stupid, no less painful torture. No information was obtained from it.

Lam Song Nao in 1981 year, gives an interview to the American TV channel

In 1973, he was released, and he returned to his old occupation. His last operation was the capture of an intact bridge across the Saigon River on 29 on April 1975 of the year, along which the Vietnamese troops marched directly to the Palace of Independence, the place of work of the South Vietnamese president. Nao commanded a special group that captured the bridge and disarmed his guards. However, in those days, few in his native Saigon really wanted to resist.

The end of the war. Vietnamese soldiers and tanks in the "Palace of Independence", captured on the ground, are also Vietnamese, only southern. A day earlier, these troops crossed the bridge captured by the Lam Song Nao group

The explosion of the Kard air transport itself was of neither strategic nor operational significance. By and large, for the American military machine it was an injection. But out of the tens of thousands of such injections, in the final analysis, there was the victory of Vietnam in its long and fierce war for its final independence.

Lam Song Nao gives an interview to Viet Nam News in his house in Ho Chi Minh, 2015
Alexander Timokhin
Photos used:
Wikipedia commons, US Navy, USNI,, wwiiafterwwii, WGBH Educational Foundation, Viet Nam News,
Articles from this series:
Unmarked. Involving the US in the Vietnam War and the role of old bombers.
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