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
Vietnam People's Navy insignia.png
Founded7 May 1955
Country Vietnam
BranchMain branches:
  • Surface Troops
  • VPN Marine Corps
  • Naval Aviation
  • Coastal Defence
  • Submarine Forces
TypeNaval Force
RoleNaval warfare and Amphibious warfare
Size50,000 officers and sailors
91 ships (excluding auxiliaries)
Part of Vietnam People's Army
HeadquartersHải Phòng, Vietnam
Motto(s)Đảo là nhà, Biển cả là quê hương (Our Home are the Islands, Our Homeland is the Sea)
Colour   Purple, White
MarchSurfing to the sea
Anniversaries7 May 1955
Fleet6 submarines
9 frigates
14 corvettes
54 patrol vessels
6 amphibious warfare ships
8 minesweepers
1 training vessel
11 Auxiliaries
EngagementsWorld War II
Vietnam War
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
Johnson South Reef Skirmish
MT Zafirah hijacking
DecorationsVietnam Hero ribbon.png Vietnam Hero of Labor ribbon.png Vietnam Gold Star ribbon.png Vietnam Hochiminh Order ribbon.png Vietnam Independence Order ribbon.png Vietnam Military Exploit Order ribbon.png Vietnam Labor Order ribbon.png Vietnam Feat Order ribbon.png Vietnam Fatherland Defense Order ribbon.png
Commander-in-ChiefNguyễn Xuân Phúc
Chief of NavyRear Admiral Trần Thanh Nghiêm
Political CommissarVice Admiral Nguyễn Văn Bổng
Chief of StaffRear Admiral Phạm Mạnh Hùng
Naval ensignEnsign of Vietnam People's Navy.svg
FlagFlag of the People's Army of Vietnam.svg
EmblemAnchor Navy.jpg
AwardsHero of the People's Armed ForcesHero of Labor (Vietnam)Gold Star Order (Vietnam)Gold Star Order (Vietnam)Ho Chi Minh OrderOrder of IndependenceMilitary Exploit OrderLabor OrderFeat OrderFatherland Defense Order
Aircraft flown
PatrolC-212, DHC-6, EC225


Pre–Modern PeriodEdit

Vietnam WarEdit

A North Vietnamese P-4 engaging USS Maddox (DD-731) in Gulf of Tonkin incident 1964

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.

A part of VPN's surface fleet in 2019. In the picture, there are the entire four of VPN's Gepard-class frigates, as well as a number of Molniya-class missile corvettes patrolling the South China Sea.

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.

VPN's Naval Infantry in Spratly Islands

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 structureEdit

VPN's Naval regions

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)

Naval RegionsEdit

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 branchesEdit

Surface Ships Navy Special Forces Marines Naval Aviation Coastal Defence Missiles Submarines

Ranks in Vietnam People's NavyEdit

People's Army of Vietnam
  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 Officers Senior Officers Junior Officers
Shoulder insignia

Collar insignia                      
Sleeve insignia
Đô đốc Phó Đô đốc Chuẩn Đô đốc Đại tá Thượng tá Trung tá Thiếu tá Đại úy Thượng úy Trung úy Thiếu úy
Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore Captain Commander Lt.Commander Senior Lieutenant Lieutenant Sub-lieutenant Ensign
Naval cadet NCOs Seamen
Học viên Sĩ quan Thượng sĩ Trung sĩ Hạ sĩ Binh nhất Binh nhì
Midshipman Master Chief Petty Officer Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer First Class Leading Seaman Seaman

Naval AcademyEdit

Vietnam Naval Academy's symbol

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.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ [1] Archived 30 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Kỳ 1 : Thần tốc giải phóng Trường Sa - Tiền Phong Online". Retrieved 21 May 2013.


External linksEdit