Jim Mitchell MST_3 History



Jim Mitchell, Capt, USNR-TAR, Retired

MST-3 History

1971-1978 - Coastal River Squadrons

From September 1972 to May 1977 I served with Coastal River Squadron ONE, River Divisions 12 & 13, in the following billets: OIC, MST-2; AOIC, PTF-21; OIC, MST-3; OIC, PTF-20; and OIC, Combat Craft (Reserve). 

After it's pull out from Vietnam in 1971, CRS-1 (then BSU-1) maintained two forward deployed detachments, Mobile Support Team TWO (MST-2) and Mobile Support Team THREE (MST-3).

MST-2, with one officer and four enlisted, was attached to Naval Special Warfare Unit, WESTPAC Det, located at White Beach, Okinawa, Japan. MST-2 was assigned the SEAL support mission, operating one MSSC, one LCPL (MK IV) and one boston whaler. During 1973-74, MST-2 provided training for Korean and Philippine Navy's boat crews, supporting our SEAL's training with the Korean and Philippine SEAL/UDT/Underwater Operations Unit (UOU).

MST-3, with one officer and ten enlisted, assigned to Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) WESTPAC Det, located at Naval Station, Subic Bay, RP. MST-3 was assigned three LCPL (MK XI) craft for UDT support and was responsible for supervising the overhaul of Trumpy Class PTF's and Napier Deltic engine rework. The PTF overhaul/rework facility was originally located in the Philippines to provide quick turn around for the boats being used in Vietnam. Following the evacuation of South Vietnam in 1975, MST-3 worked with the Provost Marshal in Subic Bay, providing harbor security and surveillance of refugees onboard the hundreds of ships that had arrived in Subic Bay. 

MST-3 absorbed MST-2 in 1974 with the relocation of Naval Special Warfare Unit, WESTPAC Det to Subic Bay and it's absorption of UDT WESTPAC Det. The new mission of MST-3 included PTF overhaul and to support SEAL/UDT/SDV platoons in the training and carrying out of unconventional warfare in the WESTPAC area.

MST-3 was located on board YFNB-25, in the small boat basin at NAVSTA Subic Bay, RP. YFNB-25 was a 300 foot barge on which MST-3 maintained it's offices, working and stowage spaces. Craft assigned included one MK IV LCPL, three MK XI LCPL's and one MSSC, plus PTF craft undergoing overhaul.  Support for UDT dets embarked in the ARGs was limited to providing import maintenance or swap out of the UDTs assigned MK XI LCPL, which was manned by UDT personnel.

Shortly after reporting to CRS-1, I volunteered for MST-2 and went through the training program in Coronado and Niland, CA.  Ens Robert Reese (the next MST-2 OIC going over), along with BM1 Melfa, RM1 Kenny, EM1, Donavon, EN2 Knapp, GMG2 Cleveland, were some of the guys conducting the training.  Ens Reese relieved Ltjg Chris Anderson, Apr 1973, in White Beach, Okinawa, where the SPECWARGRU, Westpac Det (including MST-2) had relocated to from Vietnam.  I relieved Bob Reese in Oct 1973.  The SEAL Team and MST-2 Det were in Subic Bay at the time training/working with the Philippine Navy’s UDT/SEALs and their Boat Support Unit.  The det had moved in with MST-3 (UDT/PTF Overhaul Support) on their barge.  We had MSSC-8, a MK IV LCPL, and a boston whaler as boat assets.  The detachment included:  EM1 Terry Donavon (LPO), EN2 John Knapp, ET3 Thomas (Joe) Beck, SN Gary Smith, and myself, Ens Jim Mitchell (OIC).  We went back to White Beach in February and assisted in relocating the SPECWARGRU Det to Subic Bay.  From Subic, we went to Korea, embarked in USS Cayuga (LST-1186) on 22 February 1974, for a Foal Eagle exercise and joint US/Korean training, where we supported three US SEAL platoons and Korean UDT/SEAL/BSU.  During this exercise, we boarded the USS Alamo, with a Korean Patrol Boat in its Well Deck, and conducted ops in the Yellow Sea (Northern West coast of Korea), serving as advisors to their boat crew while our SEALs went ashore with theirs.  MST-2s assets included: MSSC-8, LCPL (MK IV), Boston Whaler, and a Mobile Repair Van.  We debarked in Pusan Harbor and drove the boats down the coast to Chinhae, the main Korean Naval base, where we reported to CNSWTG, Chinhae Facility, U.S. Naval Forces Korea.  Our boats were kept in the Korean Navy Small Boat Basin.

Two of the Seal platoons flew in, while one platoon parachuted into Chinhae bay at night, where we picked them with the MSSC and LCPL.  We came close to missing our rendezvous with them, as we walked into the small boat basin compound in Chinhae, where our boats were that night, we were “captured” by the smallest, most frightened South Korean guard you would never want to see on the other end of a loaded M1 Garand rifle who of course couldn’t speak English.  We quickly “surrendered”, put up our hands and went back to the guard house, where we all had a good laugh after we found the English speaking guard who had let us in originally, having shown him our nifty Foal Eagle ID cards.  We then proceeded to the recovery area without further problems, except for the cold.  When we pulled the Seals onboard, their wet suits turned to ice.  We peeled/chipped their wet suits off, then gave them a blanket and a swig of bourbon.  

One operation was to board the USS Alamo (LSD-33), with a Korean Patrol Boat in its Well Deck, and conduct ops in the Yellow Sea (Northern West coast of Korea), serving as advisors to their boat crew while our SEALs went ashore with theirs.  The Korean OIC and his chief were more interested in interdicting, usually firing warning shots, and searching fishing boats in the area than the operation.  It took a lot of persuasion to get them to return to the pickup point, even after the Seals fired a second flare for recovery.  

Another operation included being shot at by guards on a small island that we were checking out for possible ops.  The SEAL OIC said not to stop when the guards came running down the hill and started blowing whistles at us, he changed his mind when the bullets started hitting the water in front of us.  Fortunately, we had a Korean Navy Chief with us who straightened it all out.

We spent about six weeks in Korea, returning to Subic Bay embarked in the USS Alamo on 4 April 1974.  All assets were turned over to Ltjg Chris Anderson, back on another tour as OIC, MST-3 and MST-2 was disestablished on 23 April 1974.  I returned in March 1975, then Ltjg Mitchell, as OIC, MST-3, until relieved in November 1975.

Qualifications Check off  list for SNEC 9533 - Coastal/Riverine Combatant Craft Crewman we used. 

Photos - A few pictures of me, with beard, except for in Korea, we all had
to shave (only the village elder could have a beard - we still caught
some grief for our mustaches)

Korean ID

<- MST Mobile Vans    
MST Korea and PI        
List 1 - MST-2 training, 23 Jan 1973 (add ENS J.L. Mitchell) List 2 - MST-2 training, 3 Jul 1973 List 3 -  UPWARD training, 7 Aug 1973 (add LT J. W. Grimes) List 4 -  PTF-21, Support of Project Harpoon, 31 Aug 1974 (add LTJG Jim Locke) List 5 -  MST-3 training, 3 Mar 75 (add LTJG
>J.L. Mitchell)

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