Task Force 117

and the

Mobile Riverine Force

The objective of the joint Army-Navy Mobile Riverine Force was to locate, encircle, and destroy communist units in Battle.

The Mobile Riverine Force was similar to the French naval assault divisions which performed well in the Indochina War from 1946-1954. However, the American designed formation was especially suited to the Mekong Delta, where the absence of dryland and abundance of navigable waterways made it desirable to station ground  troops on board a mobile floating base.

The Mobile Riverine Force consisted of two major components. The Base Unit and the River Assault Unit.

Base Unit and Assault Unit Moving Up River

assault1e.jpg (7430 bytes) In addition to transporting infantry and artillery, the naval component was intended to provide gunfire support for land sweeps from heavily armed and armored river craft.

The vessels in an Assault Unit included Monitors, Command and Control Boat(CCB), Armored Troop Carriers(ATC), and Assault Support Patrol Boats(ASPB).

assault1a.gif (24678 bytes) Each assault unit marshaled a great deal of fire power. Each monitor was protected with armor and equipped with 50-caliber, 40-millimeter, and 20-millimeter gun mounts, two 40-millimeter grenade launchers, and a 81-millimeter mortar. Another similarly armed and armored craft served as command and control boat. The armored troop carriers mounted .50 caliber machine guns, rapid fire grenade launchers, and 20-millimeter cannon. Also installed on the former amphibious landing craft were mounted flame throwers or water cannon to destroy enemy bunkers. A modified armored troop carrier functioned as a refueler for the river force. Beginning in September 1967, to augment the fire power of these converted landing craft, each assault unit was provided with newly designed assault support patrol boats (ASPBs,) for minesweeping and escort duty.

In addition to leading the naval combat flotilla, Commander Task Force 117 also was responsible for the Mobile Riverine Base from which normally one or two infantry battalions and one river assault squadron operated.

Mobile Riverine Base Units Included

4 self propelled barracks ships (APB),
1 LST (another operated between the MRB and Vung Tau),
5 specially configured landing craft repair ships (ARL),
1 non-self propelled barracks craft (APL),
2 large harbor tugs (YTB),
1 net laying ship (AN)

assault1b.gif (19919 bytes)Mobile Riverine Force units rotated between the mobile base and a logistic complex that Army Engineers and Navy Seabees built especially for the joint operations. The base contained barracks, mess halls, repair shops, floating crane (YD-220), a C-130 airstrip, small dry dock's, and waterfront facilities for the river craft.

On 28 February 1967, Task Force 117 was activated. On 1 June, with the MRF up to strength and most units acclimated to the combat area, the force began intensive operations to find and destroy the enemy units.


River Patrol Boat Manuevering

The Mobile Riverine Force was used as the primary reaction force in the vast delta because of it's mobility and firepower.The river sailors fought in many actions, fought through ambushes and landed troops on the enemy's strongholds.

The MRF ranged throughout the delta with it's river craft, support ships, and Army troops, and during the 1968 Tet offensive were the key to the allied military success in the delta. The force earned the Presidential Unit Citation for their outstanding in-country performance.

Having demonstrated their worth during two years of combat, the Mobile Riverine Force units would be in the vanguard of this new strategic approach to the war.

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The information about Task Force 117 was summarized from the Mobile Riverine Association Web Page. For the complete story of the Mobile Riverine Force use the link listed in the OTHER INTERESTING SITES page that can be reached from the Table of Contents.