Monday 28th January

A day at sea.

At 8:30 a.m. this morning we saw fishing boats from a local fishing community hard at work as we approached, having left Da Nang last night. Currently we have a heading of 341° at approximately 110°E and 17°N. On land this is the DMZ or demilitarised zone established in 1954 in Geneva as the boundary between North and South Vietnam in the same way as we have one in Korea today. 

Yesterday in the bar we bumped into an American Vietnam Veteran. He was based in Da Nang and the Tet Offensive clearly had an effect on him as he desperately wanted to talk about it and how 50 years later it was nothing like the place he knew. 

The offensive derives its name from the Tet or the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. This year it falls on 4th/5th February. In 1965 the Communist North’s campaign to ‘liberate’ the South had existed for 15 years. During this time the Saigon government was seen to be weak and failing. The Americans saw South Vietnam as being the next domino to fall under the spread of communism and they were not prepared to allow that to happen. President Johnson decided that it was time to ‘clear up the mess’. At first it went well for the Americans but as in many lengthy wars the opposition had no problem in finding willing recruits to counteract the USA. TV news had correspondents embedded with the troops and nightly reports were dominated by the casualty numbers. It came to a head following a night of attacks on 100 cities by the North. It was carnage and seen by the American people as an unbearable price for the US to pay. The tide turned against the war and eventually, as we recorded earlier, the Americans withdrew.

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