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Coordinates: 17°30′00″N 108°30′00″E / 17.5°N 108.5°E / 17.5; 108.5

Location of Yankee Station in the South China Sea

Yankee Station was a point in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam used by the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers of Task Force 77 to launch strikes in the Vietnam War. While its official designation was "Point Yankee," it was universally referred to as Yankee Station. Carriers conducting air operations at Yankee Station were said to be "on the line" and statistical summaries were based on days on the line.

The name derived from it being the geographic reference point "Y", pronounced "Yankee" in the NATO phonetic alphabet. In turn the term Point Yankee derived from the launch point for "Yankee Team" aerial reconnaissance missions over Laos conducted in 1964. It was located about 190 km due east of Dong Hoi, at 17° 30' N and 108° 30' E.[1]

During the two periods of sustained air operations against North Vietnam (March 2, 1965-October 31, 1968 and March 30, 1972-December 29, 1972) there were normally three carriers on the line, each conducting air operations for twelve hours, then off for twelve hours. One of the carriers would operate from noon to midnight, another from midnight to noon, and one during daylight hours, which gave 24-hour coverage plus additional effort during daylight hours, when sorties were most effective. However at the end of May, 1972, six carriers were for a short period of time on the line at Yankee Station conducting Linebacker strikes.

The first aircraft carrier at Yankee Station was USS Kitty Hawk, which was ordered there in April 1964 for the Yankee Team missions. Kitty Hawk was joined by Ticonderoga in May and Constellation in June, two months prior to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Ticonderoga and Constellation launched the first bombing missions from Yankee Station on August 5, 1964. Constellation was also the last carrier conducting operations at Yankee Station on August 15, 1973.

A corresponding Dixie Station in the South China Sea off the Mekong Delta was a single carrier point for conducting strikes within South Vietnam from May 15, 1965 to August 3, 1966.

For a detailed description of Yankee Station operations, see Nichols and Tillman.

References

  1. ^ Kelley, Michael P. (2002). Where We Were: A Comprehensive Guide to the Firebases, Military Installations and Naval Vessels of the Vietnam War, 1945-75. Central Point, Oregon: Hellgate Press. pp. 5–557. ISBN 1555716253.  

Recommended reading

  • Francillon, René. Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club US Carrier Operations off Vietnam, Naval Institute Press (1988) ISBN 0-87021-696-1
  • Nichols, John B. (CDR, USN ret.) and Tillman, Barrett. On Yankee Station, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 0-87021-559-0
  • Nordeen, Lon. Air Warfare in the Missile Age, Smithsonian Institution Press (1985), ISBN 0-87474-680-9
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