97th Transportation Company Unit History
97th Heavy Boat Company
The 97th Transportation Company (Heavy Boat) was reactivated at Fort Eustis, VA, on 28 March 1963 with orders to organize and train to become an operational unit by October 1964. It received its orders directing it to deploy to Vietnam on 26 February 1965 and the advance party arrived in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, on 26 May, to make the three LCUs operational. The main body arrived with three more LCUs on 31 May. The rest of the unit arrived with its equipment on 2 June. It was attached to the 10th Transportation Battalion (Terminal) on 6 October. The 97th had the following LCUs: 1527, 1537, 1541, 1557, 1558, 1559, 1563, 1564, and 1568, and Y Boat Y-487. In 1966, the 97th acquired the 100? tug LT-1977 and the 65? tug ST-2107. LCUs 1548, 1557, 1558 and 1568 went TDY to support Qui Nhon operations.
The 97th helped land the 1st Infantry Division, 101st Airborne Division and the 2nd Brigade, Republic of Korea (ROK) Corps in 1966. The 97th supported combat landings at Tuy Hoa, Phan Thiet, Phan Rang, Song Cau, and Cape Twain. Its area of operations extended from Can Tho in the Mekong Delta in the south to Da Nang in the north with Vung Tau, Saigon, Phan Thiet, Phan Rang, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang, Tuy Hua, Qui Nhon and Chu Lai in between. The LCUs provided inter-coastal delivery, ship to shore discharge of cargo, the tugs moved barges and berthed deep draft vessels, and cranes moved heavy cargo lifts in the port of Cam Ranh Bay.
On 10 November 1966, LCU 1559 participated in the rescue of over 300 Vietnamese who fell into the water when a section of the pier at Ban Hoi collapsed. In July 1967, the company received 35 additional cargo barges. On 15 December 1968, the 97th assumed control of the Provisional LARC Platoon. 17 LARC Vs assumed the responsibility for the 123rd Transportation Company?s ship to shore mission of providing transportation at Nha Trang, Phan Rang and Phan Thiet and also carrying small loads in Cam Ranh Harbor. In addition the Koreans on ROK Island at Cam Ranh Bay depended upon the LARCs for troop movement and water supply. The LARC Platoon completed training to qualify five Korean Army personnel to operate LARC Vs in May 1970. On 30 August 1970, the 486th Transportation Detachment with USAV Y-487 (Liquid Cargo Barge SP) arrived at Cam Ranh Bay and was assigned to the 97th with the mission of handling coastal POL shipments for the US Army Support Command, Cam Ranh Bay.
In June 1970, the company received the mission to Vietnamize the first US Army tug ST-1978. This was accomplished in Saigon in September. On 28 October 1970, a typhoon hit Cam Rhan Bay. LCU 1535 was returning from Phan Rang. She fought the storm but a line tangled in her screws and she lost her engines and was taken out to sea. After the storm passed, she was found and towed back in with no loss or injury to the crew. A number of other vessels were found stranded on the beaches. It took several days to remove the watercraft and repair the damage. On 22 January 1971, LCU 1535 ran aground on a reef south of Phan Rang Harbor trying to avoid a collision with a tug with tow. The vessel eventually powered itself off of the reef five days later. In July 1971, as part of the Vietnamization, the 97th turned over LCUs 1541, 1547, 1559, 1568 and 1593 over to the ARVN. The 97th then picked up 13 YFUs from the US Navy. The 97th still maintained and supplied the vessels. In November 1971, Y-487 was towed to the United States and the 266th Det. (J-boat), 271st Det. (65? tug), 486th Det (Y-487), and 567th Det (tug) were stood down. This left only the 110th Platoon (Watercraft). In December, LCUs 1559, 1547, 1568 and 1593 were prepared for turn-in. This only left LCU 1541, Q-651, J-3741 ST-2107 and ST-2108. They were turned over to the 155th Terminal Company with the 110th Platoon assigned to the 2nd Security Guard Company in late December and the 97th was drawn down on 2 March 1972 and the flag sent back to Fort Eustis, Virginia.
A ship hit and damaged the Benjamin Harrison Bridge over the James River. LCUs from the 97th and 329th Heavy Boat Companies ferried automobiles across the James River until the bridge was repaired.
The 97th Heavy Boat Company became a part of the 10th Transportation Battalion. At that time all boat companies were under the 10th Battalion. In 1983, it traded in its LCU 1466s for six new LCU 1600s: 1671, 1672, 1673, 1674, 1675, and 1676.
The 97th traded in its LCU 1600s for the LCU 2000s. It received LCU 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.
The United States pressured the military junta in control of the government in Haiti to step down and allow the duly elected president Aristead to assume office. In September 1994, all the LCUs of the 97th, except 2006 which was in the ship yard, sailed down to Haiti under the command of 10th Transportation Battalion for support of Operation Uphold Democracy. This was the largest flotilla of Army watercraft since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Initially, this was planned as a forced entry operation but after the military junta stepped down, the military operation shifted to peacekeeping and nation building. Because of the deplorable state of the road networks and the possibility of trucks being overwhelmed by starving Haitians, the US Army units in the outlying areas, such as Cap-Hatien, Point Lobardi, Port de Paix, Anse D?Hainault and Les Cayes, were supplied by Army watercraft out of Port Au Prince. The United nation assumed responsibility for peacekeeping in Haiti in December.
On 16 September 2002, the 97th became a multi-component company.
The weapon inspection teams had departed Iraq in 1998 because of their lack of cooperation. Rhetoric and accusation increased between the President George Bush administration and that of Saddam Husein in Iraq over the issue of weapons of mass destruction. On 8 October, Congress granted President Bush the power to launch a US military attack on Iraq.
As the likelihood of military operations increased, CENTCOM directed that 7th Transportation Group preposition part of its maritime fleet early. On 22 October, LSV-4 of the 1099th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion sailed on its own to Kuwait. LSV-3 was a USAR vessel. This brought the number of LSVs in theater up to 3. The smaller vessels would have to deploy aboard the MV Tern. 7th Transportation Group held a ROC Drill to walk its leaders through the uploading steps of the MV Tern on 22 October.
7th Transportation Group held a Group-wide FTX RESOLUTE MONGOOSE ?02 from 1-5 November. As part of that FTX, 24th Transportation Battalion completed the upload of twelve vessels; 5 LCUs of the 97th, 5 LCMs of the 1098th, 1 large tug and 1 small tug, and equipment on the MV Tern on 5 November for forward stationing for the President?s war on terrorism. It would take the Tern nearly a month to reach Kuwait.
During this time, 7th Transportation Group made serious preparations for possible contingency operations. It held a Contingency Operations ROC Drill at the Modiset Building on 22 November. 143rd Transportation Command then held a Contingency Operations ROC Drill of its subordinate units at the Modiset Building on 26 November. The ROC drill was a rehearsal of the CENTCOM contingency plans. This provide both organizations the chance to work out any coordination problems.
On 5 December, a total of 95 personnel from 24th Battalion and 824th Heavy Boat Detachment deployed to Kuwait to download the MV Tern. After completing the download, the detachment returned to Ft Eustis.
Meanwhile the pressure picked up against Hussein?s regime. On 8 November, the UN Security Council had passed Resolution 1441 requiring Iraq to comply with the disarmament agreements signed after the war. The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) led by Hans Blix entered Iraq on 27 November. The increasing tension led to the threats of offensive military against Iraq if it failed to comply fully and accurately with the UN accords agreed to after Iraq?s surrender following Desert Storm. While the Iraqi Government did send a weapons disclosure to UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by 17 December as required, many doubted its accuracy. The UN inspection teams had been allowed to reenter the country had were not denied access to any location, but however, failed to turn up any evidence of weapons of mass destruction. This provided a leverage for the UN Inspection teams to travel unfettered throughout the country.
On 18 December, 7th Transportation Group finally received its deployment order for the Persian Gulf. 6th and 24th Battalions would deploy to the Persian Gulf leaving the 10th Battalion behind. The UN Inspection Team had a deadline of 27 January to report back to the UN Security Council with their findings. That was seen as the trigger event for military operations.
As the year began, 7th Group soldiers continued to deploy overseas. The 11th Transportation Battalion deployed to Kuwait to operate out of the Port of Ashuaiba. The 24th Battalion arrived at Arifjan.
The 24th Battalion moved its command post from Arifjan to Naval Base (KNB) on 28 January. It was augmented by the 824th 824th Transportation (Medium Boat) Company (USAR) with 67 soldiers out of Tampa, Florida, and Moorehead City, North Carolina. The battalion conducted logistics-over-the-shore (LOTS) operations to offload ammunition. LSV-4 and LSV-6 relayed back and forth to Qatar to bring container into port. This was a day run where one LSV was in port while the other was at Qatar. The TSV also ran rolling stock back and forth from Qatar, KNB and Bahran. LCU 2019, 2024, 2027, and 2029 of the 97th Heavy Boat Company and LCM 80, 82, 91 and 98 of the 1098th Medium Boat Company conducted lighterage. 567th Trans (Motor) Company cleared cargo from the beach.
Posted by Frank Reeves
Feb 15 2007 12:13:53:000PM