Spratly Islands and route to protect sovereignty

In order to protect sovereignty of Spratly Islands, the troops of Brigade 125 combated with fortitude and created a historical victory in the late April 1975.

Vietnam’s troops celebrate the victory in April 1975 (Photo:hotrungnghia.multiply.com)

Since 1970-1971, a new route to Southern Vietnam was intended to be set up to supply weapons to the army corps there. Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands at that time were used as safe shelters for the army transport ships which were fishing boat in disguise.

Four reconnaissances were carried out around these islands in two years. Among them, the most successful one is the reconnaissance commanded by former leader of Battalion 2, Brigade 146, Vo Han in 1971 to study more about Spratly Islands.

According to Han, that was such a top secret mission that only the captain knew about it. The first destination of his troops was Southwest Cay. Although most of them haven’t come here before, they still had a warm and familiar feeling.

After berthing the ship, they disguised themselves as fishermen and explored the island. They also observed some other islands such as Sin Cowe island, Namyit island before finishing their first reconnaissance and making a report. One month later, the troops were required to continue their previous work and deliver weapons to the South. Because of the secret matter, the information about reconnaissance was all discarded.

Because of the importance of Spratly Islands in the weapon transportation, the liberating mission was put forward. This mission was given to three ships of Brigade 125, that is, 673, 674 and 675 in April 1975. They would cooperate with commandos from the Navy Force 126 in this mission.

After receiving the order from General Vo Nguyen Giap, the three ships went across 500 sea miles to approach the Spratly Islands. The troops encountered many difficulties because the terrain of these islands was very low and it was hard to differentiate the islands occupied by Saigon Army Forces and others in the lack of electricity when the equipments at that time were quite simple.

The troops also encountered the difficulties on the way to the islands. Huge sea waves, strong winds, seasick and machine damages could not impede them. Finally, with experiences and determination, they arrived at the Southwest Cay after 3 days operating and found out the right islands in which the Saigon army forces were occupying.

The troops in ships 673 and 674 stayed about 15 sea miles from the Southwest Cay to confront the enemy from the north. As Colonel Pham Duy Tam, former captain of ship 675, said, ship 675 secretly approached the coral edge of the island and used rubber canoes to carry the commandos to the island. At 4.30 on April 14, 1975, the troops from ship 675 suddenly fired and won and liberated Southwest Cayafter 15 minutes combating

After that winning, Vietnam’s troops continually gained a series of victories while the enemy was unable to stand firm. At 2 a.m. of April 29, 1975, the troop liberated all the six islands of Spratly Islands. According to Tam, Spratly Islands are always put under Vietnam’s sovereignty and Vietnamese people are determined to protect our sacred sovereignty. 

In the island under Vietnam’s sovereignty, the troops began their new but hard mission, clung to the islands in the harsh conditions to protect the sovereignty. 

By staff reporters – Translated by Huu Duy

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