One of the strangest and least publicized activities in Vietnam involved the U. S. Navy and the U. S. Coast Guard. In December 1966, a one-man Coast Guard unit was attached to the U. S. Navy’s Military Sea Transportation Service Office (MSTSO) in Vietnam—the Coast Guard Shipping Advisor.
The mission was to handle problems arising on board U. S. merchant ships engaged in the Vietnam sealift. With the number of ships in the longest supply line in military history steadily increasing, and with a daily average of 75 ships at anchor along the coast, crew problems were causing increasing delays to vital ship movements.
Contrary to the predictions of advocates of air power in the 1950s, 98 per cent of all military supplies carried to Vietnam were to be carried by the U. S. merchant marine. As a result, there were thousands of merchant seamen involved in the sealift, and there were many incidents of misconduct creating problems. However, the percentage of seamen involved in disciplinary problems was less than 2 per cent of the manpower involved. This percentage is comparable to the percentage of servicemen involved in Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) offenses.