Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club was a tongue-in-cheek nickname for the United States Seventh Fleet during the Vietnam War. Throughout the War in Vietnam, the Seventh Fleet engaged in combat operations against enemy forces through attack carrier air strikes, naval gunfire support, amphibious operations, patrol and reconnaissance operations and mine warfare.
US Naval forces had been introduced intermittently off the coast of Vietnam since March 1950 as "show the flag" tours to reinforce the Republic of Vietnam. In May 1964 three carrier task groups took up position at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. Reconnaissance flights were conducted by these carriers, although no combat missions had started. The Soviets had assisted the Vietnamese in the construction of more sophisticated anti-aircraft installations. The Navy sought to bring electronic warfare "DeSoto missions" to identify these installations and sent the USS Maddox (DD-731), leading to the Tonkin Gulf Incident.
The number of vessels dramatically increased, with the "yacht club" including destroyers and cruisers along the coast on the gun line. After the 1973 cease-fire, the Fleet conducted mine countermeasure operations in the coastal waterways of North Vietnam. Two years later, ships and aircraft of the Fleet evacuated thousands of US citizens and refugees from South Vietnam and Cambodia as those countries fell to opposing forces. The fleet departed in 1975.
The name "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" was used from 1961 when the Seventh Fleet arrived to the waters off Vietnam. Much like the naval traditions of line-crossing ceremonies and plankowner certificates, the club served to commemorate sailors' participation in the campaign.The qualifications for membership broadly construed to any service-member assigned to 7th Fleet, from the ships on the gun line, to aircraft sorties from the carriers, to riverine units, and Marines on the shore. Although unofficial, the term became popular enough to be found in a declassified 1966 command history of the USS Enterprise, one of the vessels of Seventh Fleet. The title and logo have been popular with veterans of Seventh Fleet's involvement in the Vietnam War.
The presence of USS Enterprise in the Gulf of Tonkin was well-known around the world by January 1966. Her own prestige as the largest and most powerful warship of the fleet had followed her to Yankee and Dixie Station, and there was more to the emerging legend than this; she and USS Bainbridge, her frigate "smallboy", had put a watershed date in naval history merely by being the first nuclear-powered ships to engage in combat. Their unmatched speed, detection systems, and operational capacity potential were proving their worth far beyond the original estimates during the first weeks "on the line at the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club."Cite journal requires
USS Enterprise (CVN-65), formerly CVA(N)-65, is a decommissioned United States Navy aircraft carrier. She was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth United States naval vessel to bear the name. Like her predecessor of World War II fame, she is nicknamed "Big E". At 1,123 feet (342 m), she is the longest naval vessel ever built. Her 93,284-long-ton (94,781 t) displacement ranks her as the 12th-heaviest carrier, after the ten carriers of the Nimitz class and USS Gerald R. Ford. Enterprise had a crew of some 4,600 service members.
USS Oriskany (CV/CVA-34) – nicknamed Mighty O, and occasionally referred to as the O-boat – was one of the few Essex-class aircraft carriers completed after World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was named for the Battle of Oriskany during the Revolutionary War.
Yankee Station was a fixed coordinate off the coast of Vietnam where U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and support ships loitered in open waters over a nine-year period during the Vietnam War. The location was used primarily by aircraft carriers of Task Force 77 to launch strikes over North Vietnam. While the coordinate's official designation was "Point Yankee", it was universally referred to as Yankee Station. Carriers conducting air operations at Yankee Station were said to be "on the line" and statistical summaries were based on days on the line. Yankee Station was initially located at 16° 00′ N, 110° 00′ E, however with a massive increase in operations over North Vietnam in 1966 the station was moved about 145 miles northwest to 17° 30′ N, 108° 30′ E, placing it about 90 miles from the North Vietnamese shore.
The Seventh Fleet is a numbered fleet of the United States Navy. It is headquartered at U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the United States Pacific Fleet. At present, it is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy, Marine Corps personnel, and Coast Guard support personnel. Its principal responsibilities are to provide joint command in natural disaster or military operations and operational command of all US naval forces in the region.
The seventh USS Ranger (CV/CVA-61) was the third of four Forrestal-class supercarriers built for the United States Navy in the 1950s. Although all four ships of the class were completed with angled decks, Ranger had the distinction of being the first US carrier built from the beginning as an angled-deck ship.
The first USS Saipan (CVL-48) was a light aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class of carrier. She was later selected for conversion into a command ship in 1963–1964, but instead of becoming a command ship she was converted to the Major Communications Relay Ship Arlington (AGMR-2) in 1965.
USS Parsons (DD-949/DDG-33) began her career as a Forrest Sherman-class destroyer of the United States Navy. She was named in honor of Rear Admiral William S. Parsons (1901–1953), who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.
USS Joseph Strauss (DDG-16), named for Admiral Joseph Strauss USN (1861–1948), was a Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy.
USS Hull (DD-945), named for Commodore Isaac Hull USN, was a Forrest Sherman-class destroyer built by the Bath Iron Works Corporation at Bath in Maine. Laid down on 12 September 1956 and launched 10 August 1957, by Mrs. Albert G. Mumma.
The second USS Henry W. Tucker (DD-875) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy. She was named for Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Henry W. Tucker (1919–1942) who was killed in action during the Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 May 1942 and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
USS Collett (DD-730) was a World War II-era Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer in the service of the U.S. Navy, named after Lieutenant Commander John A. Collett (1908–1942), a naval aviator and commanding officer of Torpedo Squadron Ten, who was killed during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942. Collett was launched 5 March 1944 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine; sponsored by Mrs. C. C. Baughman as proxy for Mrs. J. D. Collett; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 16 May 1944, with Commander James D. Collett, the brother of LCdr Collett, in command.
USS Agerholm (DD-826) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy. She was the only ship named for Harold Crist Agerholm, a Private First Class (Pfc.) in the 2nd Marine Division of the United States Marine Corps. He was killed during the assault on Saipan, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
USS O'Brien (DD-725), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named after Captain Jeremiah O'Brien and his five brothers, Gideon, John, William, Dennis and Joseph, who captured HMS Margaretta on 12 June 1775 during the American Revolution.
For decades, Task Force 77 was the aircraft carrier battle/strike force of the United States Seventh Fleet in the United States Navy (USN) since the U.S. Seventh Fleet was formed.
James Lemuel Holloway III was a United States Navy admiral and naval aviator who was decorated for his actions during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. After the Vietnam War, he was posted to The Pentagon, where he established the Navy's Nuclear Powered Carrier Program. He served as Chief of Naval Operations from 1974 until 1978. After retiring from the Navy, Holloway served as President of the Naval Historical Foundation from 1980–1998 and served another ten years as its chairman until his retirement in 2008 when he became chairman emeritus. He was the author of Aircraft Carriers at War: A Personal Retrospective of Korea, Vietnam, and the Soviet Confrontation published in 2007 by the Naval Institute Press.
USS Gurke (DD-783) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy, in service from 1945 to 1976. She was transferred to Greece in 1977 and served as Tombazis until 1997.
USS Henderson (DD-785) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy, the second Navy ship of that name, and the first named for United States Marine Corps Major Lofton R. Henderson. The previous Henderson was named for Marine Corps Commandant Archibald Henderson.
USS James E. Kyes (DD-787) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Commander James E. Kyes (1906–1943).
Carrier Air Wing Six (CVW-6) was a United States Navy aircraft carrier air wing whose operational history spans from the middle of World War II to the end of the Cold War. Established in 1943 as Carrier Air Group Seventeen (CVG-17), it would be re-designated several times during its establishment, including Carrier Air Group Six (CVG-6) as the second unit to be so designated. The first Carrier Air Group Six served for just over two years during World War II, but drew on the history of the Enterprise Air Group established in 1938 and active in the early battles of the Pacific War, being disestablished after the first year of the conflict. During its time in USS Enterprise (CV-6), it was the Navy's only carrier-based air group to carry out three complete tours of duty during World War II.
Operation Formation Star was the code name for the emergency re-deployment of U.S. Seventh Fleet warships to the Sea of Japan off the eastern coast of North Korea following that country's seizure of the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in international waters on 23 January 1968.