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U.S. Show of Power in Vietnam

Jan. 12, 1964 - The United States is sending the flagship of the Seventh Fleet to South Vietnam next week to underline its support of that country’s military junta and to demonstrate U.S. military power in Asia. Although there has been a string of high-level visitors from Washington, some U.S. officials felt that the physical presence of the flagship — symbolizing the power of the entire 125-ship fleet — would provide more concrete evidence of American commitment in South Vietnam. Although the visit by the guided-missile cruiser Providence (pictured on the Saigon River) was being described officially as a “courtesy call” on the new junta by the fleet’s commander, Vice Admiral Thomas Moorer, well-informed sources said the principal reason was to “show the flag” of U.S. power in the area. Officials hoped this would help stem any wavering of Vietnamese morale in the current critical phase of the war against the Communist Viet Cong and quiet tendencies to look for neutralization of the country or negotiations with the Communists to end the war.

For three days, the cruiser will be docked at Saigon, open for tours by organized groups of schoolchildren, soldiers, and civic organizations. The Providence, commissioned late in 1959 in her present status, is armed with 120 Terrier missiles, having a range of 65 miles, six 6-inch guns, and six 5-inch guns. She has a maximum speed of 33 knots. Her company in peacetime is 67 officers and 945 enlisted men.


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