Vietnam People's Navy

The Vietnam People's Navy (Vietnamese: Hải quân nhân dân Việt Nam), commonly known as the Vietnamese Navy or the Vietnamese People's Navy, is the naval branch of the Vietnam People's Army and is responsible for the protection of the country's national waters, islands, and interests of the maritime economy, as well as for the co-ordination of maritime police, customs service and the border defence force.

Vietnam People's Navy
Hải quân Nhân dân Việt Nam
Active1955 – present
Country Vietnam
BranchMain branches:
  • Surface Troops
  • VPN Marine Corps
  • Naval Aviation
  • Coastal Defence
  • Submarine Forces
Size50,000 officers and sailors
91 ships (excluding auxiliaries)
Part of Vietnam People's Army
HeadquartersHai Phong, Vietnam
Motto(s)Đảo là nhà, Biển cả là quê hương (Island is Home, Ocean is Fatherland)
Colour         Purple, White
MarchSurfing to the sea
Anniversaries7 May 1955
Fleet6 Submarine
9 Frigate
14 Corvette
54 Patrol vessel
6 Amphibious warfare ship
8 Minesweeper
1 Training vessel
11 Auxiliaries
EngagementsWorld War II
Vietnam War
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
Johnson South Reef Skirmish
MT Zafirah hijacking
Commander-in-ChiefNguyễn Phú Trọng
Chief of NavyVice Admiral Phạm Hoài Nam
Political CommissarVice Admiral Phạm Văn Vững
Chief of StaffVice Admiral Nguyễn Trọng Bình
Naval ensign
Aircraft flown
PatrolC-212, DHC-6, EC225


Pre–Modern Period

Vietnam War

On 19 July 1946, Acting President of Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) Huỳnh Thúc Kháng signed into law a decree establishing the modern Vietnamese navy. Then, on 10 September of that year, General Võ Nguyên Giáp started to build a flotilla as the core of the new navy. On 8 March 1949, Vietnam established the Department of Naval Research under the General Staff. This department has performed both research and training to prepare for combat missions.

Following the Geneva Conference in 1954, the DRV went about creating its own naval forces. On 7 May 1955 the Vietnam People's Navy was created with the establishment of the General Directorate of Coastal Defence, it formed the basis for the Navy Operational Command (based on the Vietnamese Ministry of Defence decree No. 284/ND signed by General Võ Nguyên Giáp to established Naval Research Board, under the General Staff, on 8 March 1949). The primary mission of the Navy was to patrol the coastal areas and the inland waterways.

Throughout the Vietnam War the role played by the Vietnam People's Navy (or North Vietnamese Navy) was largely unknown to the public. However, on 2 August 1964, three North Vietnamese Swatow-class patrol boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox in what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. The second attack, which the United States claimed to have occurred on 4 August, was dismissed by the North Vietnamese as a fabrication.

The North Vietnamese, however, had maintained their own version of the events which took place. According to official VPN accounts Maddox penetrated North Vietnamese waters on 31 July 1964, and provoked a battle with the North Vietnamese. In response to American provocation, three 123K-class torpedo boats from the 135th Torpedo Boat Battalion were dispatched to intercept the American destroyer. The resulting clash became known as the 'Battle of Thanh Hóa' in which North Vietnamese "torpedo boats succeeded in driving the Maddox out of Vietnam's territorial waters, shooting down a U.S. aircraft and damaging another".

Apart from patrolling territorial waters, the Navy also had the mission of transporting military supplies to support the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. On 31 October 1961, a sea route version of the Ho Chi Minh trail was established by the Navy, with the 759th Transport Unit responsible for carrying military supplies and other goods for the Communist ground forces in South Vietnam. To avoid detection by the South Vietnamese and U.S navies, North Vietnamese transport ships were often disguised as fishing trawlers. On 16 February 1965, a 100-ton North Vietnamese trawler from the Transportation Group 125 was discovered at Vung Ro Bay. This led to the creation of Operation Market Time by the US Navy to intercept disguised enemy ships.

On 19 April 1972, the Navy and Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) participated in the Battle of Đồng Hới off the coast of North Vietnam]. During this battle it was believed that the U.S Navy destroyed a Soviet-made cruise missile for the first time. The destroyer USS Higbee was damaged after a VPAF MiG-17 dropped a 250 lb (110 kg) bomb, destroying a 5-inch (127 mm) aft gun mount.

In the years following the complete withdrawal of U.S and other allied forces, the North Vietnamese went back on the offensive. As part of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign, the Navy increased the transportation of military supplies, food and uniform to the Communist forces in the South. When the PAVN occupied the northern provinces of South Vietnam in 1975, captured Republic of Vietnam Navy (RVNN) vessels were pressed into service with the Navy. In April 1975, ex-RVNN vessels carried North Vietnamese troops to capture the Spratly Islands. Opening battle in the island Southwest Cay (Vietnamese: Song Tử tây) on 4 April 1975, amphibious raid by sea of the Naval Marine corps number 1 (precursor of the 126th Brigade Naval Marine corps) and three vessels of the 125 corps coordinated with the commandos of the 5th Military Region, after 30 minutes, the Navy controlled the main battle area, facilitating the capture of the other islands.[1] The Navy gained control of Sand Cay island (26 April), Namyit Island (27 April), Sin Cowe Island (28 April) and Spratly Island (29 April).[2] The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) had captured the Paracel Islands from the South Vietnamese in January 1974. These islands are also claimed by Vietnam, however they have no current presence there.

Prior to 1975, the Navy operated fewer than forty patrol boats along with the coastal junk force. With the collapse of South Vietnam on 30 April 1975, the Navy was expanded with ships from the defunct RVNN. Captured vessels included two patrol frigates, over one hundred patrol craft, and about fifty amphibious warfare ships.

In the late 1970s the naval infantry (or marines) was formed to be stationed on the areas claimed by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the Spratly Islands. The naval infantry is equipped with PT-76 light tanks, BTR-60 personnel carriers and naval infantrymen are armed with AK-74 rifle, AKM-47 assault rifles, Makarov PM pistol (Officers), and PKM machinegun infantry weapons, and more.

In March 1988, the Navy fought against the PLAN at Johnson Reef, causing the losses to the Vietnamese of several transport ships and up to 64 deaths. The battle was won by the PLAN who outgunned and outnumbered them, using a fleet of frigates against Vietnamese lightly armed transport ships. This prompted the Navy to modernise its weapons and its overall naval capabilities.

Organisational structure

Organisational levels of Vietnam People's Navy, from highest to lowest are:

  • President
  • Minister of Defence
  • High Command of Vietnam People's Navy (Bộ Tư lệnh Hải quân)
  • Naval Fleet (Hạm đội Hải quân)
  • Naval Region (Vùng Hải quân)
  • Naval Brigade/Naval Regiment (Lữ đoàn/Trung đoàn Hải quân)
  • Naval Battalion (Hải đoàn)
  • Naval Group (Hải đội)

On 26 October 1975, the Ministry of Defence issued Decision No.141/QD-QP which established five Coastal Areas of Naval Command and jurisdiction provisions of the five regions. In 1978, they were renamed as the following naval regions:

  • 1st Regional Command (A Regional Command): Gulf of Tonkin, north coast from Quảng Ninh to Hà Tĩnh and the islands in Gulf of Tonkin. Command Headquarters: Hai Phong.
    • Commander: Rear Admiral Phạm Văn Điển
    • Political Commissar: Rear Admiral Phạm Văn Vững
  • 2nd Regional Command (B Regional Command): South China Sea and south coast from Bình Thuận to Bạc Liêu, southern continental shelf, including the key areas are economic science service areas (called are DK1, DK2). Command Headquarters: Nhơn Trạch, Đồng Nai.
    • Commander: Rear Admiral Phạm Khắc Lượng
    • Political Commissar: Rear Admiral Nguyễn Phong Cảnh
  • 3rd Regional Command (C Regional Command): north central coast, from Quảng Bình to Bình Định, including the islands of Cồn Cỏ, Lý Sơn,...and Paracel Islands. Command Headquarters: Da Nang.
    • Commander: Rear Admiral Đỗ Quốc Việt
    • Political Commissar: Rear Admiral Nguyễn Tiến Dũng
  • 4th Regional Command (D Regional Command): South China Sea, south central coast including Spratly Islands, Phú Quý island and the south central coast, from Phú Yên to Bình Thuận. Headquarters Command: Cam Ranh Bay military port, Khánh Hòa Province.
    • Commander: Rear Admiral Phạm Văn Hoành
    • Political Commissar: Rear Admiral Phạm Thanh Hóa
  • 5th Regional Command (E Regional Command): South China Sea and coast in Gulf of Thailand from Cà Mau to Kiên Giang. Command Headquarters: Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang.
    • Commander: Rear Admiral Nguyễn Duy Tỷ
    • Political Commissar: Rear Admiral Ngô Văn Phát

Service branches

Surface Ships Naval Commando Marine Corps. Naval Aviation Coastal Defence Missiles Submarines

Ranks in Vietnam People's Navy

Vietnam People's Army
Ministry of Defence
General Staff
Ground Force
Air Force
Border Guard
Coast Guard
Ranks of the Vietnamese Military
Ground Force ranks and insignia
Air Force ranks and insignia
Navy ranks and insignia
Border Guard ranks and insignia
Coast Guard ranks and insignia
History of the Vietnamese Military
History of Vietnamese military ranks
Military history of Vietnam

The Vietnam People's Navy system does not feature the rank of Fleet Admiral. Vietnam People's Navy ranks are divided into four categories: Commissioned Officer, Non-commissioned Officer, and Soldiers/Seamen. Officer ranks use the executive curl on the sleeves of their service and full dress blue uniforms, similar to those used in various navies worldwide.

Flag OfficersSenior OfficersJunior Officers
Shoulder insignia

Collar insignia
Sleeve insignia
Đô đốcPhó Đô đốcChuẩn Đô đốcĐại táThượng tá Trung táThiếu táĐại úyThượng úyTrung úyThiếu úy
AdmiralVice AdmiralRear AdmiralCommodoreCaptainCommanderLt.CommanderSenior LieutenantLieutenantSub-lieutenantEnsign
Naval cadetNCOsSeamen
Học viên Sĩ quanThượng sĩTrung sĩHạ sĩBinh nhấtBinh nhì
MidshipmanMaster Chief Petty OfficerChief Petty OfficerPetty Officer First ClassLeading SeamanSeaman

The Vietnamese naval academy, with its headquarters in Nha Trang, is the main institute for training naval commanding officers for the divisional level, and commanding staffs at tactical/campaign levels. Students include both undergraduates and postgraduates serving in the military.

The forerunner of the Vietnam Naval Academy, the Coastal Training School, was established on 26 April 1955 by the General Staff. The school has changed name several times, such as the Naval Training School in 1959, the Naval School of Vietnam in 1961, the Naval Officers School in 1967, and the School of Naval Engineering Command in 1980. The school renamed itself the Naval Academy in 1993.

After 55 years of development, combat and growth, the academy has trained thousands of officers and technical staff for major specialised fields such as vessel control, mining and anti-mine operations, anti-submarine missiles, gunships, information, radar, sonar, coastal radar, shipyard work, the Coast Guard, and Border Defence Force.

In addition, the naval academy has trained officers for both the Royal Cambodian Navy and the Lao People's Navy.


The current total manpower of the navy is around 50,000 officers and enlisted personnel, including naval infantry and other specialised units.


Main article: List of equipment of the Vietnam People's Navy

See also



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