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.
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
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
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.