Come About the USS Maddox: This Navy Warship Is Where the Vietnam War Began

Warfare History Network
By Unknown - U.S. Navy photo NH 97900, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1990649
By Unknown - U.S. Navy photo NH 97900, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1990649

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Come About the USS Maddox: This Navy Warship Is Where the Vietnam War Began

The United States Navy commissioned the USS Maddox toward the end of World War II as a fast carrier escort for action in the Philippines and South China Sea. An Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, the Maddox supported carrier raids against Japan and American operations on Okinawa after recovering from a Kamikaze attack earlier in 1945. She would also participate in UN operations during the Korean War, but would gain infamy prior to the Vietnam War in the Gulf of Tonkin.

In early 1964, South Vietnamese forces, trained and supported by American commandos, began conducting raids on strategic North Vietnamese positions, termed Operation Plan (OPLAN) 34A. These raids provoked North Vietnamese forces to engage American Naval ships in the Gulf of Tonkin who had been collecting signal intelligence (SIGINT) for the OPLAN 34A raids.

Shipping out from Taiwan in July 1964

In July of 1964, Maddox shipped out from Taiwan to collect SIGINT as part of her Desoto patrol along the coast of North Vietnam from the Demilitarized Zone up to China. OPLAN 34A raids were being conducted in the area and North Vietnamese naval forces were actively responding to South Vietnamese incursions.

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