South Vietnam, especially the southern 1/3 of the country, is covered with waterways, both natural and man-made. This created a logistical nightmare for the ground forces. In 1966, the Navy responded to this problem by the creation of the Mobile Riverine Force, consisting of Armored Troop Carriers, Monitors (similar to the Civil War variety), Command and Communication Boats, Assault Support Patrol Boats, Flamethrower-equipped boats, and Refueling boats, all of which were served and supported by a fleet of Troop Ships, LST's, Repair Ships, Barracks barges, and other supporting vessels. The Mobile Riverine Force became the partnership between the Army and Navy in fighting the war in the rice paddies, canals and treacherous waterways of the south. While they were principally congregated in the IV Corps area, they were also called into service in the rivers of I Corps, the area nearest the DMZ, and at some times in the III corps area.
In addition to patrolling the coastal waters, these boats made periodic raids into the inland waterways. However, the patrolling and interdiction efforts of the inland waterways was the primary responsibility of Task Force 116, made up of PBR's (Patrol Boat, River). The PBR sailors, the Swifties, and the MRF's navy crews who were collectively known as the "Black Berets,"
In the years following its inception, the Brown Water Navy fought thousands of brief but bloody battles for control of large water-bound areas of Vietnam's rice bowl and of major enemy supply routes from Cambodia. Names like "Blood Creek", "Coral Bend", "Rocket Alley", were etched into the lore of the struggle for Vietnam's crucial inland waterways as the Brown Water Navy patrolled border rivers, delta canals and the shipping lanes to Saigon. This Brown Water Navy played an important role in Vietnam and was successful throughout the campaign.