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Cam Ranh Bay

Cam Ranh Bay

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Cam Ranh Bay is a deep-water bay
Bay
A bay is an area of water mostly surrounded by land. Bays generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. Bays also exist as an inlet in a lake or pond. A large bay may be called a gulf, a sea, a sound, or a bight...

 in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 in the province of Khánh Hòa
Khanh Hoa Province
Khánh Hòa is a province of Vietnam, located in the South Central Coast. It has a population of 1,066,300 and spans an area of 5,197 km². Its capital is Nha Trang...

. It is located at an inlet of the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

 situated on the southeastern coast of Vietnam, between Phan Rang and Nha Trang
Nha Trang
Nha Trang is a coastal city and capital of Khanh Hoa province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It is bounded on the North by Ninh Hoà district, on the East by the South China Sea, on the South by Cam Ranh town and on the West by Diên Khánh district...

, approximately 290 kilometers / 180 miles northeast of Hồ Chí Minh City / Saigon.

Cam Ranh is considered the finest deepwater shelter in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. The continental shelf
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

 of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 is relatively narrow at Cam Ranh Bay, bringing deep water close to land.

Overview



Historically, the bay has been significant from a military standpoint. The French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 used it as a naval base for their forces in Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

. It was also used as a staging area
Staging area
A staging area is a location where organisms, people, vehicles, equipment or material are assembled before use.- In construction :...

 for the Imperial Russian fleet under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky
Zinovy Rozhestvensky
Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky was an admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy. He was in command of the Second Pacific Squadron in the Battle of Tsushima, during the Russo-Japanese War....

 prior to the Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima , commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War...

 in 1905, and by the Japanese Imperial Navy in preparation for the invasion of Malaysia in 1942. In 1944 U.S. Naval Task Force 38
Fast Carrier Task Force
The Fast Carrier Task Force was the main striking force of the United States Navy in the Pacific Ocean theatre of World War II.The Fast Carrier Task Force was known under two designations. The Navy made use of two sets of upper command structures for planning the upcoming operations...

 destroyed most Japanese facilities and it was abandoned.

In 1964 U.S. Navy seventh fleet reconnaissance aircraft, the seaplane tender
Seaplane tender
A seaplane tender is a ship that provides facilities for operating seaplanes. These ships were the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.-History:...

 Currituck
USS Currituck (AV-7)
USS Currituck was the first of four Currituck class seaplane tenders, and was nicknamed the Wild Goose. She was built during World War II and served during the Cold War....

 (AV-7), and Mine Flotilla 1 units carried out hydrographic
Hydrography
Hydrography is the measurement of the depths, the tides and currents of a body of water and establishment of the sea, river or lake bed topography and morphology. Normally and historically for the purpose of charting a body of water for the safe navigation of shipping...

 and beach surveys and explored sites for facilities ashore.

This preparatory worked proved fortuitous when a North Vietnamese trawler was discovered landing munitions and supplies at nearby Vung Ro Bay in February 1965; the incident led the United States to develop Cam Ranh as a major base.

The United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 operated a large cargo/airlift facility called Cam Ranh Air Base and it was also used as a tactical fighter base. It was one of three aerial ports where United States military personnel entered or departed South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

 for their 12 month tour of duty.

The United States Navy operated a major port facility at Cam Ranh, and the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 had a major presence there as well. The Navy flew various aircraft from Cam Ranh and other bases, conducting aerial surveillance of South Vietnam's coastal waters.

The APO
Military mail
A primary feature of military mail systems is that normally they are subsidized to ensure that military mail posted between duty stations abroad and the home country does not cost the sender any more than normal domestic mail traffic...

 for Cam Ranh Air Base was APO San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

 93638.

U.S. Air Force use of Cam Ranh Bay

For the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 use of Cam Ranh Bay, see Cam Ranh Air Base
Cam Ranh Air Base
Cam Ranh Air Base is located on Cam Ranh Bay in the province of Khanh Hoa, Vietnam. It was one of several South Vietnamese Air Force air bases built and used by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War...


U. S. Navy use of Cam Ranh Bay


Cam Ranh Bay became the center of coastal air patrol operations with the establishment in April 1967 of the U.S. Naval Air Facility, Cam Ranh Bay, and the basing there of P-2 Neptune and P-3 Orion patrol aircraft. That summer, Commander Coastal Surveillance Force and his staff moved their headquarters from Saigon to Cam Ranh Bay and set up operational command post to control the Operation Market Time
Operation Market Time
Operation Market Time was the United States Navy’s effort to stop troops and supplies from flowing by sea from North Vietnam to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War...

 effort. Country wide coordination also was enhanced with establishment of the Naval Communications Station.

In the beginning the shore facilities at Cam Ranh Bay were extremely limited, requiring interim measures to support assigned naval forces. Army depots provided common supplies, while Seventh Fleet light cargo ships Mark (AKL-12) and Brule (AKL-28) delivered Navy-peculiar items from Subic Bay in the Philippines. Until mid 1966 when shore installations were prepared to take over the task, messing and quartering of personnel were handled by APL-55, anchored in the harbor. Also, a pontoon dock was installed to permit the repair of the coastal patrol vessels. Gradually the Naval Support Activity, Saigon, Detachment Cam Ranh Bay, improved the provision of maintenance and repair, supply, finance, communications, transportation, postal service, recreation, and security support.

While the concentration at Cam Ranh Bay of Market Time headquarters and forces during the summer of 1967, the demand for base support became extraordinary. Accordingly, the Naval Support Activity Saigon, Detachment Cam Ranh Bay, was redesignated the Naval Support Facility, Cam Ranh Bay, a more autonomous and self sufficient status. A greater allocation of resources and support forces to the shore installation resulted in an improved ability to cope with the buildup of combat units. In time, the Cam Ranh Bay facility accomplished major vessel repair and dispensed a greater variety of supply items to the anti-infiltration task force. In addition the naval contingent at the Joint Service Ammunition Depot issued ammunition to the coastal surveillance, river patrol and mobile riverine forces as well as to the Seventh Fleet’s gunfire support destroyers and landing ships. Seabee Maintenance unit 302 provided public works assistance to the many dispersed Naval Support Activity, Saigon detachments.

As a vital logistic complex, Cam Ranh Bay continued to function long after the Navy’s combat forces withdrew from South Vietnam as part of the Vietnamization of the war. However, between January and April 1972 the Naval Air Facility, and the Naval Communications Station turned over the their installations to the Vietnamese Navy and were duly disestablished.

Capture of Cam Ranh Bay


After the American withdrawal from South Vietnam in 1973, the South Vietnamese Air Force used the airfield at Cam Ranh Bay as a storage facility for many of their propeller-driven aircraft (A-1E, T-28). The aircraft were kept in flyable storage while the many F-5s and A-37s jets were used in operations against the North Vietnamese army.

By the early spring of 1975 North Vietnam realized the time was right to achieve its goal of re-uniting Vietnam under communist rule, launched a series of small ground attacks to test U.S. reaction.

With the fall of the Central Highlands and the northern provinces of South Vietnam, a general panic had set in. By 30 March order in the city of Da Nang
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

 and in Da Nang harbor had completely broken down. Armed South Vietnamese deserters fired on civilians and each other. Forward North Vietnamese fired on American vessels in Da Nang harbor and sent sappers ahead to destroy port facilities, and refugees sought to board any boat or craft afloat.

Initially, Cam Ranh Bay was chosen as the safe haven for these South Vietnamese troops and civilians transported by boat from Da Nang. But, even Cam Ranh Bay was soon in peril. Between 1 and 3 April, many of the refugees just landed at Cam Ranh reembarked for further passage south and west to Phú Quốc Island in the Gulf of Siam, and ARVN forces pulled out of the faciilty.

On 3 April 1975 North Vietnamese forces captured Cam Ranh Bay and all of its military facilities.

Soviet and Russian Naval Base


Four years after the fall of Saigon and the unification of North and South Vietnam, Cam Ranh Bay became an important cold war naval base for the Soviet Pacific Fleet.

In 1979, the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 government signed an agreement with Vietnam for a 25-year lease of the base. Cam Ranh Bay was the largest Soviet naval base outside the Soviet Union, allowing the Soviet Union to project increased power in the South China Sea. by 1987, they had expanded the base to four times its original size and often made mock attacks in the direction of the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, according to intelligence of the United States Pacific Fleet
United States Pacific Fleet
The United States Pacific Fleet is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval resources under the operational control of the United States Pacific Command. Its home port is at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. It is commanded by Admiral Patrick M...

. Analysts suggested that the Vietnamese side also saw the Soviet presence there as a counterweight against any potential Chinese threat. The Soviet Union and Vietnam officially denied any presence there. However, as early as 1988, then-Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze
Eduard Shevardnadze
Eduard Shevardnadze is a former Soviet, and later, Georgian statesman from the height to the end of the Cold War. He served as President of Georgia from 1995 to 2003, and as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party , from 1972 to 1985. Shevardnadze was responsible for many top decisions on...

 had discussed the possibility of a withdrawal from Cam Ranh Bay, and concrete naval reductions were realised by 1990.

The Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n government continued the earlier 25-year arrangement in a 1993 agreement that allowed for the continued use of the base for signal intelligence, primarily on Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 communications in the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

. By this time, most personnel and naval vessels had been withdrawn, with only technical support for the listening station remaining. As the original 25-year lease was nearing its end, Vietnam demanded $200 million in annual rent for the continued operation of the base. Russia balked at this, and decided to withdraw all personnel. On May 2, 2002, the Russian flag was lowered for the last time. Currently, Vietnamese officials are considering turning the base into a civilian facility, similar to what the Philippine
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 government did with the American Subic Naval Base.

Today


After the Russian withdrawal, the United States negotiated with Vietnam to open Cam Ranh Bay to calls by foreign warships, as it previously had done with the ports of Haiphong
Haiphong
, also Haiphong, is the third most populous city in Vietnam. The name means, "coastal defence".-History:Hai Phong was originally founded by Lê Chân, the female general of a Vietnamese revolution against the Chinese led by the Trưng Sisters in the year 43 C.E.The area which is now known as Duong...

 in northern Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. In a move that security commentators say is aimed at countering China's build-up of naval power in the South China Sea, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced on October 31, 2010 that the bay would reopen to foreign navies after a three-year project to upgrade the port's facilities. Vietnam has hired Russian consultants to direct the construction of new ship-repair facilities, which are scheduled to open to surface ships and submarines by 2014.

Ba Ngoi Port


Ba Ngoi port is an international commercial port located in inside Cam Ranh Bay, which has advantageous natural conditions and potentials for developing services of seaports, such as: the depth of anchorage area, airtight and wide bay, nearby International Marine route (about 10 km), Cam Ranh Airport (about 25 km), National Highway No.1A (about 1.5 km) and National Railway (about 3 km). Therefore, it has been being an important centre of marine traffic covering the economic zone of south Khanh Hoa and neighbouring provinces for a long time.

Cam Ranh Airport


On May 19, 2004, after major reconstruction, Cam Ranh Airport
Cam Ranh Airport
Cam Ranh International Airport is located on Cam Ranh Bay in Cam Ranh, a town in the province of Khanh Hoa in Vietnam. It serves the city of Nha Trang, which is from the airport.- History :...

 received its first commercial flight from Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

. Today, the facility operates as an internal airport, taking over all air traffic which previously headed to Nha Trang Airport
Nha Trang Air Base
Nha Trang Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield in Vietnam. It is located northwest of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province....

.

External links