Jim Mitchell PN History

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Jim Mitchell, Capt, USNR-TAR


1971-1978 - Coastal River Squadrons

Philippine Navy (PN)  and Boat Support Unit (BSU) MiniATC Training 

As part of a joint US/Philippine exercise, Mobile Support Team (MST) 2 conducted seal support/small boat tactics training for the PN's BSU in the Subic Bay OPAREA during January, 1974.  MST-2 boat assets included a Medium Seal Support Craft (MSSC), a MK IV LCPL and a Boston Whaler.  The PN BSU utilized two newly acquired (from US Foreign Military Sales) MiniATCs.  Units supported during the joint US/Philippine exercise/training included:  US USN: Seal Team Det.; UDT Det.; MST-2.; USS Grayback (SS 574), USA: Green Berets "A" Team, and USAF: Special Operations Squadron (C-130); and Combat Control Team (CCT).  PN Seal/UDT/Underwater Operation Unit, Boat Support Unit, and Philippine Ship Kalinga (TK89), a support platform for their personnel, boats and equipment.

The exercise included;

-         USN/PN Seals/UDT parachuting into the oparea from a C-130, under the control of the CCT, which had been inserted covertly by PN BSU onboard a MiniATC.  Their mission was to conduct a search and destroy mission then withdraw via inflatable boats down river to be picked up by MST-2 (MSSC).

-         The Green Berets were inserted (not so covertly) by MST-2 onboard the LCPL, after they had been interdicted and attached by MST-2 (MSSC).  Their mission was to proceed inland, intercept, and engage the SEAL/UDT air dropped unit.  The LCPL provided cover and waited off-shore for a signal to recover the Green Berets.

-         The MSSC, after engaging the LCPL, proceeded a short distance up river to provide a blocking/covering force, on the west side of the river, for the withdrawing SEAL/UDT personnel. 

-         A second "enemy" force of USN Seals was inserted off the beach by the submerged USS Grayback.  They did a free ascent from about 20 feet, with gear and inflated rubber boats, and paddled ashore.  This unit then proceeded a short distance up the east side of the river and dispersed, waiting to ambush the Seal/UDT personnel coming down river by inflatable boats.  

While the Seal/UDT vs Green Beret action went pretty much as planned, with Seal/UDT personnel proceeding down river by inflatable boats, the ambush on the river took a strange twist.  It had never been briefed or discussed that the MSSC could go up this river (we must have forgot to mention it), and the Ambush team, on the east bank, was not expecting it and didn't know it was there until several locals came up to the MSSC on the west bank asking for "brass" casings (they used it to make things rumored to include reloads for the local New Peoples Army (NPA) unit, a communist based group).  Realizing the firepower facing them from the MSSC, which would be reinforced by the Seal/UDT personnel coming down river, the Ambush team decided to do a quick attack on the MSSC and withdraw.  The MSSC became aware of this "attack" by the sound of numerous clicks as triggers were pulled, but not rounds fired, this was followed by several exclamations and curse words, rocks being thrown, and finally a plaintive plea from one of the ambushers for us to give them some blank ammunition (seems the water pressure from the free ascent had pushed in the wax tip on the blank ammunition, ruining all of it).  We consented to their request and provided them with a couple hundred rounds, out the barrels of our mini-gun.  The Ambush team decided their mission was complete and conducted a tactical withdrawal, as fast as they could.  MSSC, our position compromised, withdrew to the mouth of the river and waited there to recover the Seal/UDT personnel.  The CCT was recovered by the MiniATC .  The Ambush team and Green Berets were recovered by the LCPL.  A good time was had by all.

A follow-on task was received from CRS-1, to conduct an OP-Eval on the performance of the MiniATC during the training and exercise..  Being a young and dumb Ensign, I did this with great enthusiasm, comparing the MiniATCs performance against the MSSC.  Although the eval was supposed to be how it performed in a river environment, we had to cross the bay to get to the river and we commented on that, which was a very wet ride, with all the equipment and personnel getting soaked.  We described problems with the bow ramp, the jets, and the overall speed and performance, again compared to the MSSC.   I sent this off by message and MST-2 proceeded to Korea for more fun and games.  After returning to NAB Coronado, CA , our home port, I was called into the Chief of Staff's office, where I was met by three LCDRs.  They were from the Office of Foreign Military Sales and Coastal River Division Eleven.  Seems the MiniATC  was a pet project and a future USN riverine craft.  My eval did not go over very well.  After 3 days of "discussions," they keyed in on that we had never seen the PN BSU personnel do any maintenance on the MiniATCs, which we had not because after training they returned to the Kalinga and we returned to the MST-3 Barge (they never saw us do any maintenance either!)  This was finally used to cover the multitude of problems observed, and the MiniATC was bought by the USN. 


Photos from Jim Mitchell
Mst-3 Plaque MST-3 barge-Subic Boats tied at barge.    

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