Point Welcome, 1962

WPB-82329

A photograph of the Coast Guard cutter Point Welcome.


RADIO CALL SIGN: NAKQ

Builder:  Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland

Commissioned:  14 February 1962 

Decommissioned:  29 April 1970 

Disposition: Transferred to South Vietnam as Ngu Yen Han on 29 April 1970 

Length:  82’10” oa, 78’ bp 

Navigation Draft:  5’11” max (1960) 

Beam:  17’7” max 

Displacement:  77 tons fl (1966) 

Main Engines:  2 x Cummins 1,200 hp diesel engines (see class history)   
                           2 x five-bladed propellers

Performance, Maximum Sustained: 14.45 knots, 590 nautical mile range (1966)
Performance, Economic:  12.5 knots, 870 nautical mile range (1966)

Maximum Speed:  16.8 knots (1960) 

Fuel Capacity:  1,840 gal 

Complement:  8 men (1960)
                         2 officers, 2 chief petty officers, 7 enlisted men (1966) 

Electronics (1966):

                         Radar:  AN/SPN-11X 
                         Sonar: None 

Armament: 1 x 20mm (1960); 5 x .50 cal mg, 1 x 81 mm mortar (Vietnam service)


"Point" Class history:

The 82-foot patrol boats had mild steel hulls and aluminum superstructures.  Longitudinally framed construction was used to save weight.   These boats were completed with a variety of power plants. 82301 through 82313, 82315 through 82317, and 82319 through 82331 were powered by two Cummins 600-hp diesels.  Boats 82318 and 82332 through 82379 received two Cummins 800-hp diesels. The 82314 was fitted with two 1,000-hp gas turbines and controllable-pitch propellers. The purpose of this installation was to permit the service to evaluate the propulsion equipment. All units were eventually fitted with the 800-hp diesels.  Units remaining in 1990 were re-engined with Caterpillar diesels.

WPB 82301 through 82344 were commissioned without names; at that time the Coast Guard did not name patrol craft shorter than 100 feet. That changed beginning in January 1964 and after that time any Coast Guard vessel over 65-feet in length was assigned a name.


Cutter History:

The Point Welcome was built at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland and was commissioned on 14 February 1962.  She was first stationed at Everett, Washington, from 1962 to 1965.  Here she conducted law enforcement and search and rescue patrols.  She was then allocated to join many of her sister cutters in the waters off Vietnam in support of the U.S. Navy's Operation Market Time.  She was converted for service with the addition of a .50 caliber machine gun with a "piggyback" 82mm mortar as well as additional armament, placed on the open deck of a freighter, and carried to the Philippines, where she was offloaded. 

Once joined by her crew, she was assigned to CG Squadron One, Division 12, Vietnam, from July 1965 and served until April 1970.  She was attacked in the pre-dawn hours of 11 August 1966 by U.S. Air Force aircraft while on patrol in the waters near the mouth of the Cua Viet River, about three-quarters of a mile south of the Demilitarized Zone (the 17th Parallel).  Her commanding officer, LTJG David Brostrom, along with one crewmen, EN2 Jerry Phillips, were killed in this "friendly fire" incident.  The Point Welcome's executive officer, LTJG Ross Bell, two other crewmen, GM2 Mark D. McKenney and FA Houston J. Davidson, a Vietnamese liaison officer, LTJG Do Viet Vien, and a freelance journalist, Mr. Timothy J. Page, were wounded.  

BMC Richard Patterson saved the cutter and the surviving crew at great risk to himself.  He was awarded a Bronze Star with the combat "V" device for his actions that were described in his award citation:

"The first attack caused a blazing gasoline fire on the fantail of the cutter that threatened to engulf the entire after section of the vessel. Chief Patterson, displaying the finest qualities of bravery and leadership, took charge of the situation and using a fire hose, forced the flaming liquid over the side, thus extinguishing the fire. Even as he was accomplishing this task, he saw the second aircraft attack rip through the pilot house killing the cutter's commanding officer and seriously wounding the executive officer and the helmsman. Unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Chief Patterson climbed to the bridge and took command. He ordered the crew to carry the wounded to the comparative safety of the below decks area. Alone on the bridge, he then maneuvered the cutter at high speed to avoid subsequent attacks. When it became apparent that he could not successfully evade the attacking aircraft, he ran the cutter close ashore, and directed the crew to abandon ship. Under his composed leadership, the wounded were wrapped in life jackets and paired with the able bodied before going over the side. Chief Patterson kept his crew calm and organized while they were in the water and until they were picked up by rescue craft."

The Point Caution came to the assistance of Point Welcome and along with other units, rescued those in the water.  Soon thereafter Patterson and those of his crew that were not seriously wounded returned to their cutter.  They then sailed Point Welcome back to Danang under her own power.  There she was repaired and returned to service. 

On 29 February to 1 March 1968, she assisted in the destruction of an SL-class North Vietnamese trawler near Cu Lao Re island, 70 miles southeast of Danang.  On the afternoon of 29 February 1968 the USCGC Androscoggin took the trawler under surveillance after it was first detected by a P-2 Neptune aircraft 150 miles south of the demilitarized zone.  The Point Welcome and Point Grey, along with two Navy Swift boats, waited close to shore as the trawler approached, with Androscoggin trailing.  In the early morning of 1 March 1968 as the trawler closed to within seven miles of the coast, Androscoggin closed and challenged the trawler.  After receiving no response, Androscoggin illuminated the target with 5-inch star shells.  The trawler, positively identified as a North Vietnamese SL-class vessel, opened fire on the cutter with recoilless rifle and machine gun fire.  Androscoggin then opened fire with her 5-inch battery, scoring one hit on the trawler's "after starboard side."  The trawler then headed for the beach.  Two helicopters took the trawler under fire while the 82-footers and Swift boats closed.  The Point Welcome illuminated the target with illumination rounds fired from her 82mm mortar while the Point Grey and the Swift boats fired their .50 caliber machine guns into the trawler.  It grounded 50 yards from the mouth of the Song Tha Cau river.  Point Welcome then hit the target with two high explosive mortar rounds fired from her 82mm mortar.  The trawler soon thereafter exploded, leaving little trace.  The cutters were hit with debris but suffered no personnel casualties.

She was transferred to South Vietnam as Ngu Yen Han on 29 April 1970.  Her ultimate fate is unknown.   


Click here to access the report of the investigation of this incident. The file is in "pdf" format and you will need to have Adobe Acrobat or similar software to access it.  The file was created and provided to us by William R. Wells, II, USCG (Ret.) and we gratefully acknowledge his assistance.


Click here to access an account written by MAJ Richard P. Pierzchala, USMC, who responded to the Point Welcome's distress call.  This account was provided by MAJ Pierzchala and we gratefully acknowledge his assistance.


Photograph: Caption, date, description, credits (if known):
A photo of the Point Welcome "SEATTLE, WASH: The USCG POINT ELLIS (outboard) and the USCG POINT WELCOME, tied up at Pier 90, U.S. Naval Supply Depot, Seattle, Wash., prior to moving to Bangor, Wash., for transport to the Republic of Viet Nam."; No photo number; 24 May 1965; photo by PH1 Robert H. Estlow, Headquarters, 13th Naval District, Seattle; Official U.S. Coast Guard Photograph.
Point Welcome in Vietnam Photo of Point Welcome in Vietnamese waters taken from the bridge of USS Harold Ellison (DD-684) by the commanding officer of the Ellison, CDR Joesph P. Werle, USNR.  Provided courtesy of his son.
A photo of the Point Welcome in Vietnam The next 20 images were slides taken by Frank Wollard from on board YR-71 in 1966.  The first two are of Point Welcome prior to her patrol in which she was attacked by USAF aircraft in a "friendly-fire" incident.  The next 18 images are of Point Welcome as she returns, in sequence, under her own power and manned by the survivors of the attack, to her berth close aboard YR-71, in Danang.  Mr. Wollard scanned these slides and provided us with the images for our use and we thank him for his courtesy. 

Here Point Welcome is moored to YR-71; she is inboard of another 82-footer, CGC Point Orient, sometime before her ill-fated August 1966 patrol.  A Navy diver is working on one of Point Welcome's propellers.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Another view of Point Welcome tied up to YR-71 while a Navy diver repairs one of her propellers.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Crewed by the survivors of the attack, Point Welcome makes her way back to Danang Harbor under her own power.  She was escorted by two other 82-footers.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome and her escorts continue to make their way through Danang harbor towards YR-71. 

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome passes astern of YR-71.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome as she passes astern of YR-71.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome as she continues to pass astern of YR-71.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome as she continues around YR-71.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome turns towards YR-71 as her crew prepares to tie up.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome closes YR-71 in preparation to tie up outboard of Point Ellis, which is already moored to the YR-71.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome continues to close YR-71, and the crew is preparing to tie up outboard of Point Ellis.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome continues to close.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome continues to close.  Note the "Wile E. Coyote" emblem painted on the starboard side of the bridge.  (Note the modification added after the friendly fire incident in the last photo.)

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome comes to a stop close aboard Point Ellis.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Crewmen on board Point Welcome prepare to tie up to Point Ellis.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Point Welcome is securely moored to Point Ellis as another 82-footer prepares to tie up outboard of Point Welcome.  Note the "Sorry Charlie" tuna emblem painted on the bridge of Point Ellis.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome

Another 82-footer prepares to tie up to Point Welcome.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome All three 82-footers are moored close aboard the YR-71.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome Another view of the three 82-footers.  Note the "Batman" emblem painted on the outboard 82-footer and the damage evident in Point Welcome's bridge

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome After the Point Welcome was repaired, her crew repainted their "Wile E. Coyote" emblem, only this time the coyote sported a broken and bandaged tail.

(Image provided courtesy of Frank Wollard)

A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Note the Snoopy emblem.

A photo of the Point Welcome

View of the inside of the bridge of the Point Welcome showing damage inflicted by the attack.

(Image provided courtesy of BMC Richard Patterson, USCG (Ret.))

A photo of the Point Welcome

Color photo of the Point Welcome, view from quarterdeck looking forward to the bridge, showing much of the damage inflicted by the friendly-fire incident.

300 dpi image.

(Image provided courtesy of BMC Richard Patterson, USCG (Ret.))

A photo of the Point Welcome Close-up of damage on Point Welcome.

300 dpi image.

A photo of the Point Welcome's commanding officer "Lieutenant Junior Grade David C Brostrom, Class of 1963, Killed in the Service of His Country While Serving as the Commanding Officer of the USCGC Point Welcome in Viet Nam, August 11, 1966."; no date/photo number; photographer unknown.

David Brostrom as a Coast Guard Academy cadet on board a cutter during a cadet cruise.

A photo of the Point Welcome memorial service

The memorial service on board Point Welcome for LTJG David Brostrom and EN2 Jerry Phillips.  Chief Patterson is on the far right, first row, with his hands on the .50 caliber ammunition storage rack.

(Image provided courtesy of BMC Richard Patterson, USCG (Ret.))

A photo of BMC Pattersons Bronze Star award ceremony The Bronze Star award ceremony for BMC Richard Patterson aboard a buoy tender in Danang; the Point Welcome is tied alongside the tender.  The photo was taken by Point Welcome crewman ET2 Terry W. Hill from the bridge of the Point Welcome.  BMC Patterson is on the far right.

(Image provided courtesy of ET2 Terry W. Hill.)

A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.
A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.
A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.
A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.
A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.
A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Note the Wile E. Coyote emblem.

A photo of the Point Welcome No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Note the Wile E. Coyote emblem.

Newspaper article of a Point Welcome survivor Photo of LTJG Ross Bell, survivor of the Point Welcome friendly-fire incident.
A photo of the Wiley Coyote emblem The Wile E. Coyote emblem as it was "modified" after the friendly-fire incident.

(Image provided courtesy of ET2 Terry W. Hill.)


Sources:

Cutter History File.  USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.

Alex Larzelere.  The Coast Guard at War: Vietnam, 1965-1975.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997.

Robert Scheina.  U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.

Paul C. Scotti.  Coast Guard Action in Vietnam: Stories of Those Who Served. Central Point, OR: Hellgate Press, 2000.


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Last Modified 1/26/2012