After a two-day battle against Chinese forces for possession of the barren Paracel Islands, three South Vietnamese gunboats damaged in the sea engagement were back at Danang naval base for repairs on Tuesday (January 22).
GV Warships moored at quayside
SV ZOOM INTO CU Shell hole on deck
SV Rating hosing deck. ZOOM INTO CU damage on lifeboat
SV Shrspnel damage on cabin door
SV Workman painting around shell-hole
SV ZOOM INTO CU Shell hole
SV Naval ratings working on guns
SV Workmen repairing damage on hull near waterline
SV PAN Along warship at quayside
Initials AE/22.28 AE/22.15
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Background: After a two-day battle against Chinese forces for possession of the barren Paracel Islands, three South Vietnamese gunboats damaged in the sea engagement were back at Danang naval base for repairs on Tuesday (January 22).
The South Vietnamese say 122 of their men are missing following the weekend fighting, which left Chinese forces in possession of the disputed islands. At least half of the South Vietnamese casualties were aboard the 700-ton gunboat HQ-10, which sank with a large number of its crew after being hit by a Chinese missile. The Paracel Islands, long subject to dispute between South Vietnam and The Chinese People's Republic, lie 200-miles (320 kms) from South Vietnam and the Chinese island of Hainan.
According to Saigon military reports, the South Vietnamese had 110 militiamen and 40 naval commandos on islands in the group as well as their sea-borne units. Saigon says their ground forces were bombed on Sunday by Chinese MIG-21s and then overwhelmed by superior Chinese ground forces.
The South Vietnamese Military Command claimed that two Chinese ships had been put out of action during the fighting -- one was sunk by gunfire and the other was seen to run aground. It was claimed that two other Chinese gunboats were damaged.
Peking, in its first official reaction, called on the South Vietnamese to "stop their encroachment of Chinese territory immediately." The Chinese Foreign Ministry subsequently announced it would release prisoners captured after the battle.
But there were meantime reports that the South Vietnamese were planning retaliatory hit-and-run air attacks against the islands from Danang base.