The Amphibious Forces of the us navy




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The Cold War: Fading of a Mission

Use of ship landing parties appears to absent, or at least very limited, during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The author has been unable to uncover no overseas Cold War use of sailors from ships as infantry. The last instance he has been able to identify of ship landing parties going ashore is domestic—the formation of a naval battalion from the landing parties of ships in port Long Beach California in connection with the 1965 Watts Riots.51 Nonetheless, formal requirements for organization and training of parties continued at least into the 1970s.52 A Landing Party School existed at Dam Neck, Virginia. The Amphibious School at Coronado, California, Special Operations Department taught a course in infantry base defense in support of Navy operations in Vietnam.

During the Cold War, it is in the connection with naval infantry formed from shore stations that the use of sailors as infantry has its most impact. Naval Emergency Ground Defense Forces were formed at overseas stations. They were vigorously exercised at places where there was a threat. Very active Navy Emergency Ground Defense Forces were organized at Naval Support Activity Danang, South Vietnam and at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland.53

Landing Party Manual 1960 (OPNAV P 34-03)

The Landing Party Manual superceded the Landing-Force Manual in 1950. It was issued in 1950 and 1960. The last edition was revised in 1962 and again in 1965. Because it is the last official Navy guidance it is treated in some detail.

By 1960, each ship, division, force and fleet was required to “maintain a permanently organized naval landing party consisting of headquarters, rifle, machine gun, and other units as prescribed by the force or fleet commander.” Organization was based on ship type:54

· BB, CVA, CVS, CVL, all cruiser classes…. One rifle company (6 officer, 195 enlisted)55
· Amphibious ships………………………….. One rifle platoon (1 officer, 44 enlisted)
· Destroyer types…………………………….. One rifle squad (13 enlisted)
· Divisions of capital ships (battleships, cruisers)….. A battalion headquarters (8 officers, 48 enlisted)
· Destroyer squadrons……………………….. Two platoon and one company headquarters (Company headquarters: 2 officers, 9 enlisted)


A 1960s Naval Landing Party Battalion consisted of 28 officers and 636 men; a company 6 officers, 195 men; rifle platoon 1 officer, 44 men; machine gun platoon 1 officer, 55 men. A rifle squad had one petty officer squad leader and 12 men divided into three fire teams.

Starting in 1950, the Landing Party Manual applied not only to ships but also to the shore establishment. Shore Stations were required to “maintain naval emergency ground defense force (NEGDF) organizations consisting of headquarters, rifle and other units as prescribed by responsible naval authority.”56

The 1960 edition modified 1950 requirements to some extent. Cruisers landing parties were increased in size. Destroyer type requirements were reduced. Both editions recognized the priority of maintaining afloat unit effectiveness. Landing personnel requirements were not to detract from the ability to conduct split-plant operation (two watch sections), operation of all aircraft, antiaircraft weapons, one turret, all control stations, and Combat Iinformation Center and radars (three section watch). Probably in recognition of competing shipboard requirements, P 34-03 ordered that marines compose the entire landing party whenever their numbers were adequate.

Landing force and ground defense force operations were limited both in scope (limited to ground force operations requiring small arms) and duration (approximately one week). The Landing Party Manual did not envision the more complex infantry operations of its predecessors. The Manual attributes this to the impracticality of getting several ships’ landing parties together for large ground force operations.57 While not stated, this constraint seems to reflect Cold War operating tempo.

us navy personnel attached to commander naval forces vietnam, keep their guns ready as they watch during viet cong attacks on saigon. photo taken in february 1968. photo by ph1 g.d. olson. naval historical center photographic branch collection, #usn 1129709.

US Navy personnel attached to Commander Naval Forces Vietnam, keep their guns ready as they watch during Viet Cong attacks on Saigon. Photo taken in February 1968. Photo by PH1 G.D. Olson. Naval Historical Center Photographic Branch collection, #USN 1129709.


A Word About the Scope of This Paper

The scope of this paper is deliberately limited to the organized use of sailors as infantry, and artillerymen, ashore. It does not touch on other organized Navy units such as the Naval Construction Battalions (Seabees), organized in October 1941, which are trained in light infantry tactics. It also does not include discussion of Navy Special Operations Forces—SEALS and their predecessor UDT organization. Both of these organizations would be included in a wider definition of “sailors as infantry.”58

Appendices


Footnotes:

1. “Implementation of Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Guidance—Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Capabilities.” Director Navy Staff Memorandum of July 6, 2005.

2. A more definitive definition is provided by LT John Soley in a paper presented in 1880 and reproduced in the Naval Institute Proceedings 6, no. 13 (1880): 271. “The term Naval Brigade, as you all know, is applied to the forces of a ship or ships which may be landed for operations on shore, and is composed of infantry and artillery, with their necessary accompaniments.”

3. They were in a minority aboard ship. The Naval Act of 1794 provided for the assignment of one marine officer and 44-54 enlisted marines to a 44-gun frigate. Smaller ships carried proportionally smaller numbers of marines

4. Even then they were usually accompanied by a signalman and many times commanded by a navy officer.

5. During the 19th century the Marine Corps only organized at the battalion and regimental level nine times: for the defense of Washington during the War of 1812 (1814); the Seminole War (1836-38); the Mexican War (1847); the Civil War (3 instances—1861, 63, 64); Panama 1885; War with Spain (1898); and Philippine Insurrection (1899). Brigades were raised in 1885 (Panama) and 1899 (Philippines). The other organized efforts were at the battalion level.

6. Except for naval fires and transport, almost all Navy operations during the Mexican War were ashore.

7. Navy Regulations 1814. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq59-19.htm

8. Navy Department. Instructions in Relation to the Preparation of Vessels of War for Battle: to the Duty of Officers and Other When at Quarters: and to Ordnance and Ordnance Stores. (Washington DC: C. Alexander, Printer, 1852): 3. This language was retained through all five editions up to the last edition in 1880.

9. Todorich, Charles. The Spirited Years, A History of the Antebellum Naval Academy. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1984): 115-120.

10. Exercises in Small-Arms and Field Artillery: Arranged for the Naval Service, Under an Order of the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography of the Navy Department. Philadelphia, PA: T.K. and P.G. Collins, 1852. The Academy Commandant’s copy is at the Navy Department Library.

11. Tucker, Spencer. Arming the Fleet, U.S. Navy Ordnance in the Muzzle-Loading Era. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989): 203. A pair of Dahlgren boat howitzers, mounted on Navy field carriages, is in front of the old Fairfax County Court House, Fairfax VA. The left gun is a medium 12 pound boat howitzer manufactured at the Washington Navy Yard in 1856. The right gun is a 24 pound boat howitzer. A pair of 24 pound boat howitzers mounted on ship pivot carriages are adjacent to the flagpole at the Naval War College in Newport RI. Twenty-four pound boat howitzers were generally not used ashore.

12. Commander South Atlantic Blockading Squadron letter, August 8, 1864. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, vol. 15 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1902): 622-624.

13. Distant Stations were the Mediterranean, Brazil/South Atlantic, East Indies/Asiatic, Pacific, West India, and Africa Stations. Normally ships deployed for a three year cruise on station. Except for the Africa station which was an anti-slavery patrol, operations generally involved protection of commerce.

14. The brigade was rounded out by a battalion of ships marines (infantry) and sailors in support roles (pioneers, medical, staff, etc. This was the normal brigade organization. See Landing Drill of Naval Brigade at Key West March 23, 1874. Navy Department, Bureau of Ordnance, 1874. The only previous peacetime landing party training evolution apparently occurred prior to the Civil War when sailors of the Paraguay Expedition exercised ashore near Corrientes Argentina during 1859 while the expedition was preparing for possible combat in Paraguay.

15. As a Lieutenant, Luce had revised the gunnery manual Instructions of Naval Light Artillery, Afloat and Ashore in 1862.

16. North Atlantic Squadron winter 1885-86 exercise plan prepared by Radm James Jouett and staff. Quoted in Daimon E. Cummings. Admiral Richard Wainwright and the United States Fleet. (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1962): 47

17. The depth and quality of this commentary is astonishing.

18. The Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute 5 (1879): 208-230.

19. Soley, John C. “The Naval Brigade.” The Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute 6, no. 13 (1880).

20. The Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute 13, no. 3 (1887): 303-339.

21. D.H. Mahan’s argument, along with critical commentary by numerous Institute members, is in D. H. Mahan, “Three Considered as a Tactical Unit.” United States Naval Institute Proceedings 14, no. 2 (1888): 343-393. [Mahan's remarks are in the discussion on pages 363-393.].

22. W.H. Russell argues that Marines subsequently adopted Mahan’s recommendations, which also involved an organization based around three infantrymen. “The Genesis of FMF Doctrine: 1879-1899.” Marine Corps Gazette 35, nos. 4,5,6,7 (April, May, June, July 1951). See June, p. 54.

23. Authors are Commander C.M. Thomas, Lieutenant C.E. Colahan, Lieutenant W.F. Fullam, Ensign F.J. Haeseler, and U.S. Army First Lieutenant L.W.V. Kennon. Fullam, Haeseler, and Kennon had critically commented on Mahan’s proposal in the pages of Proceedings.

24. Rogers, William Ledyard. “Notes on the Naval Brigade” The Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute 14, no. 1 (1888): 95.

25. Fullam, W.F. Comment on Mahan’s article. The Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute 13, no. 4 (1887): 367.

26. This the same Fullam who was prominent in the earlier debate over how to best organize and train sailors as infantry. Fullam would retain an interest and was one of the authors of the first two editions of the Landing Force Manual.

27. Prominent “Fullamites” included Robley Evans, Seaton Schroeder, and William S. Sims. A notable exception to the list of line officers endorsing Fullam was Commodore Stephen B. Luce.

28. Roosevelt’s Executive Order gave the Corps the mission to provide expeditionary forces as necessary and to provide defense of naval bases beyond the Continental US This echoed Fullam’s argument that the Corps should be organized geographically in six expeditionary battalions and provided dedicated shipping.

29. Ordnance Instructions, while providing drill for boat/field guns, provided only sketchy instructions for infantry drill and operations. By the 1880s, there were some efforts to correct this. In 1886, the Navy issued a “Professional Paper” on the subject: Bureau of Navigation. The Naval Brigade and Operations Ashore, A Hand-Book for Field Service Prepared from Official and Standard Authorities. Authored by First Lieutenant H.K Gilman, USMC, it was issued in 1886.

30. Thomas, Commander C.M, et al. “Instructions of Infantry and Artillery, United States Navy.” Washington, DC: Navy Department, Bureau of Ordnance, 1891. p. 9.

31. Editions were issued in 1905, 1907 (with corrections dated 1910 and 1911), 1912, and 1916.

32. Fullam, one of authors, finally made a point he raised in 1888 when commenting on the D.H. Mahan article.

33. The Navy issued the Landing Force Manual in 1918, 1920, 1927, 1938, and 1941.

34. Williams, Vernon. “Naval Operations in the Philippine Islands (1898-1903).” In Benjamin Beede, Ed. The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions 1898-1934, An Encyclopedia. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994): 363.

35. Farquharson, R.B. “A Study Made in the Office of Naval Intelligence by Lieut-Col R.B. Farqharson, U.S. Marine Corps, of Expeditions Formed and Landings Effected by U.S. Naval Forces, in Central America, Mexico and West Indies, from 1901 to 1 May, 1929.” Washington DC. Office of Naval Intelligence, June 17, 1929. Navy Department Library, Naval Historical Center. It can also be found at http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/haiti_list_exp.htm . This count includes instances of landing parties relieving each other during the same operation.

36. The “Bluejacket Expeditionary Battalion” was organized at San Diego, California.

37. Subsequent reinforcement would bring the sailor brigade to about 3,700 and marines to 2,500. Casualties included 59 sailors (15 KIA) and 18 marines (4 KIA).

38. Prohibition on gun captain/pointers: “U.S. Atlantic Fleet Regulations”, 1917. Retain men in order to fight the ship: Landing Force Manual,” 1927.

39. USS New Mexico Organization and Regulations, 1929. Navy Department Library, Naval Historical Center.

40. Commander Destroyers Atlantic Fleet. Standard Organization Book for 2200-ton Destroyers, October 1944. Navy Department Library, Naval Historical Center.

41. U.S. Asiatic Fleet Regulations, 1931. Navy Department Library, Naval Historical Center.

42. First Lieutenant L.W.V. Kennon.

43. Landing Force Manual 1918, p. iv.

44. Landing Force Manual 1927, p. iii. Part 3 of the 1927 edition is an extensive reprinting of Army doctrine related to “Combat Principles for combat organizations up to regiment size. All are taken from Army Training Regulation-420.

45. See Captain W.S. Pye, “Joint Army and Navy Operations”. Naval Institute Proceedings. 50, no. 12; 51, nos. 1-6 (December 1924-June 1925). For War College involvement, see Col. Edward L. King. “Overseas Expeditions” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 47, no.12, (December 1921).

46. During November 1902, a battalion arrived at Culebra for Fleet Winter maneuvers and base defense exercises. Advanced base exercises were held the following year at Subic Bay in the Philippines. At the same time the Marine Corps stubbornly held on to the 19th century missions including that of ships guards.

47. Advanced Base Forces, and the battalions embarked on Panther and subsequent ships were not very capable of assault landings. They landed administratively, except at Vera Cruz in 1914, where they came ashore, along with their bluejacket brethren, in towed open pulling boats albeit under combat conditions.

48. Quoted in Allan R. Millett. Semper Fidelis, the History of the United States Marine Corps, (New York: Free Press, 1991): 325. This study is recommended for those interested in addition information on adoption of roles and missions by the Marine Corps.

49. Joint Board. Joint Action of the Army and the Navy. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1927): Quoted in ibid, page 328. Author's italics.

50. 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941 (twice).

51. The Battalion never left the Long Beach Naval complex and was disbanded after one day.

52. The author is unable to document when they no longer were required.

53. In Vietnam the Navy took over responsibility for all support services in I Corps. At the time, NSA was the largest overseas logistic command. Subordinate activities were established at Chu Lai, Hue, Tan My, Dong Ha, Cua Viet, Phu Bai, and Sa Huynh. The Keflavik NEDGF conducted base wide monthly defense drills.

54. OPNAV P 34-03, 1960. p. 6. Detailed breakdown of manning by rate is available in OPNAV P34-03. For reference purposes, the cruiser landing party was about sixteen percent of the crew.

55. Maintenance of a landing party was not obligatory for CVAs [attack aircraft carriers].

56. Landing Party Manual, 1950 edition, p. 4; 1960 edition, p. 6.

57. Landing Party Manual, 1960 edition, p. 5.

58. Seabees might be considered descendants of the pioneers that were part of organized landing parties. By 1938, the pioneer section of the landing party consisted of shipfitters, machinists, blacksmith, carpenters mate, electricians, “men familiar with explosives”, and a number of non-rates.

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