August 27, 1972. Operation Lion’s Den, or the Battle of Haiphong Harbor, occurred, which involved one of the few ship-to-ship naval battles of the Vietnam War. The operation was carried out by four ships designated as Task Unit 77.1.2., which included USS Newport News (CA 148), an 8-inch gun cruiser; USS Providence (CLG 6), a 6-inch gun missile cruiser; USS Robison (DDG 12), a guided-missile destroyer; and USS Rowan (DD 782). The two cruisers and two destroyers conducted a brief night raid against the North Vietnamese forces protecting the port of Haiphong. This operation was a naval gunfire strike against targets in Haiphong, Do Son Peninsula and Cat Bi area. The purpose of the raid was to knock out coastal defense and SAM (surface-to-air missile) sites as well as other military targets in Haiphong Harbor or the “Lion’s Den,” as called by the Navy.
Vietnamese coastal defense gunfire were heavy during the attack. Newport News reported 75 rounds of very accurate hostile fire; Rowan reported 50 rounds of accurate fire as close as 20 yards and straddling the ship. Robison reported 140 rounds of very accurate fire, the closest being 15 yards off the port beam. Providence counted 60 incoming rounds.
After the bombardment, the ships were threatened by four Russian-built torpedo boats. Two Navy A-7 Corsairs from USS Coral Sea (CV 43) assisted. The Task Unit’s ships and aircraft were able to sink three of the four torpedo boats….If you would like to read about my journey from the Midwest to serving on board a Gearing class destroyer in Vietnam as recounted in, “Striking Eight Bells,” use one of the links to booksellers: Amazon.com: Books, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, BAM –Books A Million and Smashword.com eBooks.
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