That strength demonstrated the high determination of liberating the South, reunifying the nation, bringing independence to the nation and developing socialism. It also showed the deep sentiments of the North to the Southern theater as well as no-number ships’ crew-members’ spirit of overcoming difficulties, enduring hardships and readiness to sacrifice.

Prime Minister Pham Van Dong and troops of Unit 759 in 1972 (A file photo)

In an article written to the People’s Army Newspaper, Associate Professor and Doctor of Philosophy, Major General Nguyen Vinh Thang, former head of the Institute of Military Social Science and Humanities, confirmed that the no-number ships’ voyages were seen as trips of comradeship, love and closeness of people who were like brothers sharing joys and sorrows, no scare of sacrifice, taking difficulties, protecting comrades. The voyages also manifested the solidarity and side-by-side combat between troops and the people, the revolutionary vigilance, discipline observance of the naval troops.

According to the general, the spiritual-political strength on the strategic transportation route was one of the important factors that contributed to the national victory over U.S. invaders.

That strength, as General Thang defined, came from four basic elements.

Firstly, it was the right and creative political and military guideline of the Party led by President Ho Chi Minh. The guideline was made on the creative application and development of the Marxist-Leninist theory, based on the viewpoint of the people’s war, and building the people’s armed forces in line with real situations of the nation, and inherited the national tradition and experience in fighting and safeguarding the country. That was the political guideline on leading the whole people to complete the people’s national-democratic revolution in the South and at the same time carry out the socialist revolution in the North and combine national independence with socialism and patriotism with proletarian internationalism. That was the guideline on the whole-people’s, comprehensive, and long-term resistance war which relied on the country’s own strengths and took advantage of international support. That was the right decision of the Politburo, the Central Military Commission on building a strategic transportation route at sea to transport troops, weapons and other equipment to reinforce the Southern theater to win over U.S. invaders’ “Special Warfare,” “Joint Warfare,” and “Vietnamization.” The Party’s right and creative political and military guideline gathered and encouraged troops and people in general and naval troops in particular to bring into full play patriotism, surmount all hardship, make sacrifices, be determined to fight and defeat the invaders.

Secondly, it was the direction, thoughtfulness, and encouragement of President Ho Chi Minh and other leaders of the Party, State, Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defense.

General Thang recalled that on the evening of October, 11, 1962, the first wooden ship carrying 30 tons of weapons left Do Son wharf (Hai Phong) for Ca Mau. Present at the see-off ceremony were Pham Hung, Nguyen Chi Thanh, and Tran Van Tra. On behalf of the Party Central Committee, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Hung advised and stressed his trust in the crew-members. On behalf of the crew, Commissar Bong Van Dia promised to fulfill the task to meet Southern Party Committee and people’s expectations. When the good news of the successful first shipment of weapons to Ca Mau was reported to President Ho Chi Minh, the Politburo and the Central Military Commission, Uncle Ho praised the crew and directed that lessons learnt had to be drawn soon and more weapons should be transported to the Southern theater for the people to fight the enemy, so that the North and the South could soon reunite.

Thirdly, it was the support of the North to the Southern theater and high resolve of Southern people and troops in realizing the determination of transporting troops and weapons.

In fact, in the resistance war against U.S. invaders for national salvation, the North reinforced personnel and equipment to the Southern theater to fight and win over the enemy. The spiritual-political strength of the Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea was sourced from the great support and encouragement from the North to the Southern theater. While waiting for the transportation of weapons from the North to the South by sea, the Southern provinces, under the direction of the Party Central Committee, actively and proactively prepared wharfs and at the same time, sent boats to the North to both explore, find ways, and study means of transportation at sea to carry weapons to the South if possible.

Between 1961 and 1962, despite difficulties, five ships from the South sailed to the North and the crew was warmly received by President Ho Chi Minh and other leaders of the Politburo and the Central Military Commission.

Fourthly, it was the regular implementation of the Party and political work for troops on the strategic transportation route - Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea.

According to General Thang, good implementation of the Party and political work was one of the important measures to consolidate and raise troops’ fighting spirit. To promote the synergy, the Party committee, and chain-of-command of the Naval Service, and Unit 759 (the predecessor of Brigade 125) carried out numerous approaches to the work. After inception, Unit 759 paid due attention to political training and determination building for its troops together with improving troops’ endurance ability and net-pulling skills. Moreover, Song Gianh Fishing Group organized training courses to raise trainees’ political stance, and soldiers’ revolutionary spirit, courage, and willing to sacrifice to complete all assignments. Attentively, letters sent to troops by Uncle Ho, Central Military Commission and Naval Service were sources of encouragement to troops to overcome difficulties, determined to combat and win in any circumstances.

General Thang concluded the article with a confirmation that the spiritual-political strength was the crystallization of the spiritual strength of the Vietnamese nation in building and defending the country, which was lifted to a new height in the Ho Chi Minh era. He added that the Navy’s transportation force will bring into full play the glorious tradition to build a revolutionary, standardized, elite, and modernized naval force, contributing to safeguarding the Fatherland in the new period.

Translated by Mai Huong