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Opening of Chinnampo - 41 Cdo Korea

Unit/ Formation: 41 Cdo RM

Location: Chinnampo

Period/ Conflict: Korean War

Year: 1950

Date/s: November 1950

After several days of sweeping and shelling the Chinnampo area of the landing beach, Royal Marines board landing craft from USS COMSTOCK to carry them to the beach.

As the Eighth Army pushed northwards into western North Korea, and farther from the supply port at Inchon, its logistics situation became increasingly difficult. Short of necessities, under pressure to speed its advance and with winter coming on, the Army appealed to the Navy for help. A small port was opened at Haeju, but much more cargo capacity was badly needed. Chinnampo, port city for the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, was a logical answer, but one presenting a full plate of difficulties: it was at the end of a very long, well-mined channel and had the extreme tidal range typical of western Korea.

In addition, until late October, available minecraft were largely needed elsewhere. Opening the route to Chinnampo involved applying the painful lessons of Wonsan and fine teamwork by U.S. Navy patrol planes and helicopters, the British aircraft carrier Theseus, U.S., South Korean and contract Japanese minesweepers, Underwater Demolition Teams, and good intelligence work. In a phased approach, aircraft, small craft and UDT swimmers searched for mines, sinking some.

The second and third group of Royal Marines follow the operational control boat in to the beach. In the background USS COMSTOCK lies to the left of Chalo island flanked by two minesweepers while LST 799 lies to the right between two destroyers. © IWM KOR 643

Following the searchers, larger minesweepers cleared a thirty-mile long approach through the Yellow Sea, while smaller minecraft, including converted landing craft, worked through another thirty to forty miles of river channels.

Chinnampo also marked the appearance of a mine force "mother ship", as USS Catamount (LSD-17) arrived to provide a home for the smallest minecraft. A shallow channel to Chinnampo was opened by 3 November and cleared completely by the 10th, allowing smaller ships to start relieving Eighth Army's supply woes. With the completion of a deep-water channel ten days later, the port was ready for full service and was soon handling nearly 5000 tons of cargo daily.

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