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US Seventh Fleet Vietnam 1964-75

...Fleet series number 4 from Osprey

Title: US Seventh Fleet, Vietnam 1964-75
Author: Edward J. Marolda
Publisher: Osprey
ISBN: 978-1-47260-5681-4

'American naval power in Southeast Asia', number 4 in the new Fleet series from Osprey. An 80-page soft-cover book, with some fine artwork by Adam Tooby,
This starts with some background, how the 7th Fleet which operated off the coast of Vietnam for so many years had evolved from the WW2 Southwest Pacific command of Douglas MacArthur, providing troop transport for the Korean War and on to be a firm fixture as part of the US involvement in the Vietnam War, sailing in the Gulf of Tonkin and on Yankee Station, prompted by the 1964 incidence of North Vietnamese boats attacking the USS Maddox. With the more direct US involvement in Vietnam, the navy played their part in the Rolling Thunder campaign of 1965. It goes on to set out the Fighting Power of the 7th Fleet, from the headline use of their aircraft carriers, along with the surface fleet that varied from destroyers up to the huge guns of the battleship New Jersey. Add amphibious warfare vessels with troops, helicopters and amphibious vehicles/equipment and even submarines, not just to protect the major assets of the carriers, but also to track coastal traffic moving supplies from North to South Vietnam. One more vital role was that of aircrew recovery, as aircraft damaged during attacks on the North could limp to the coast and over the water, nearer to help and recovery rather than capture. The next major section looks at the Command and Control of the fleet, including the 'interference' of politicians in Washington, along with how various attack routes were selected and some used for USAF operations, and others for the US Navy. Even the intelligence efforts of both sides are described. As part of the operations there are some useful artwork pages showing the arrangement of the ships at sea, including for underway replenishment as well as their shore bases which they would visit as necessary. Combat operations are covered, including the accidents on their own ships rather than as a result of enemy action, a few of which proved serious and costly in terms of both casualties and monetary value.
One of the stories involved here was the change in technology, from the transition of carriers from the modified Essex class through to the new, much larger supercarriers, including the nuclear powered Enterprise. Alongside this there were new guided weapons, making targeting much more precise as the years went by. Towards the end of the war, in an attempt to force the North Vietnamese to sign up to a Pease deal that would allow the US to withdraw from the war, there was a change to the Rules of Engagement and even mining of the major harbours, cutting off the supply lines into the North. All in all this is an interesting read, with some great detail of how the 7th Fleet operated, their successes and the failures over the course of the US involvement in the Vietnam War. As someone who lived through this period it is hard to believe this it all ended nearly 50 years ago now.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy.


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