Last opposed amphibious operation

I have written a paragraph in a book I am working on that states:

It is probably also worth bearing in mind that the last opposed U.S. amphibious operation conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps was the landing at Tang Island in 1975, and since then, no nation has conducted a major amphibious operation against a defended beachhead. There have been no major opposed amphibious operations in the last 48 years.

Now, is there anything I am missing? Has anyone in the world conducted a significant opposed amphibious operation since 1975?

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About Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience. ... Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation. ... His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024). ... Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

8 thoughts on “Last opposed amphibious operation

    • Interesting option, thanks. Not that familiar with the operation. Wikipedia states:

      The first attempt at a seaborne landing at Vettilakerni, located 12 kilometers east of Elephant Pass, scheduled for 14:30 hours on July 15, 1991, met with stiff resistance, causing Brig. Wimalaratne to delaly the landing. With his personal effort, the second attempt was made at 18:00 hours under cover of fire from Navy gunboats and close air support from air force Sia Marchetti SF-260 bombers directed by Wing Cmdr. Sunil Cabral.

      In then states:

      The first wave landed, led by Capt. Dushan Rajaguru, Coy Comd 1 SLSR, and Capt. Ralf Nugera, Coy Comd 3 SLLI, meeting heavy resistance, yet the 1st Battalion 1 SLSR and 3rd Battalion SLLI secured a beachhead that night.

      What resistance did they encounter in the “first attempt?” Clearly the second attempt landed. Did they encounter resistance during the landing, or what their “heavy resistance” encountered later as they move inland?

      • I don’t know. This article (https://archives.dailynews.lk/2009/08/08/fea01.asp) includes the lines “As a result of this courage on decision of the Task force Commander, troops were able to approach the Vettilaikerni coast.

        Not only Major General Wimalarathne took a courageous decision and commanded troops but he was in the first wave of troops which attacked the LTTE held beach front at Vettilaikerni.

        Troops crossed a rough terrain of 12 kilometres which consisted of sand dunes, dotted with anti- personnel mines and booby traps to reach the Elephant Pass Camp under a heavy mortar fire from the LTTE.”

        So the beach front was held, but not clear by what kind of forces, and the description is more about the movement inland.

        I find there’s a lack of English-language reports on any military action that doesn’t involve western forces, which is unfortunate.

        • Actually from that account it does not appear that the beachhead was held. Elephant Pass Camp was 12 kilometers away, so it appears that they came under mortar fire as they advanced on it, but it does not look like the beach itself was manned or under direct fire, and maybe not under indirect fire.

          We need to look further into this.

          • Here are two articles that expand on this, though neither may be definitive enough for your purposes. 

            1. How’s your French? This is the most detailed account I can find: L’autre côté de la colline: La première bataille d’Elephant Pass ; juillet-août 1991 (lautrecotedelacolline.blogspot.com)
            A 14h00, après que les Shanghai et la SLAF aient bombardés le secteur, une vague d’assaut de 300 soldats à bord de 24 embarcations approcha de la plage, avant d’être accueillie par un feu ennemi intense qui la força à rebrousser chemin à 75 mètres du rivage, alors que dans le même temps, les insurgés brouillaient les fréquences radio sri-lankaises.  En effet, le LTTE avait anticipé l’envoi d’une opération amphibie de secours, et identifié Vettilakerni comme un des points de débarquement les plus probables, et avait disposé un rideau de troupes en conséquence. Après une nouvelle série de bombardements préparatoires, une seconde vague se dirigea vers la plage à la tombée du jour, vers 18h00 et débarqua cette fois avec succès. Les fantassins sri-lankais parvinrent à consolider une tête de pont, malgré les tirs de mortiers et de sniper embusqués dans les arbres, ainsi que la présence en nombre de mines et de pièges.

            2. This account is from the perspective of naval gunships. It gets a bit confusing with place names: https://www.defence.lk/upload/ebooks/navy_jour_one_2018.pdf

            Operation Balawegaya can be considered as the most successful amphibious operation that was carried out by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the war against the LTTE. Amphibious assault landing was the only option available to reinforce the besieged Elephant Pass Army Complex. The operation was planned and, carried out by deception and launched within a period of 48 hours. The enemy has wrongly guessed that Vettalaikeni is a possible landing point and they had highly fortified the beachhead with a large number of gun points aiming at sea. On 14th July 1991 SLNS Weeraya, Ranakamee, Rakshaka and Sooraya provided NGFS effectively to neutralize the heavy enemy fire. If not for the amphibious landing at Veththelakerni, Elephant Pass Army Complex could have been overruned by the LTTE.

            I haven’t found much else, The Economist had a couple of articles from that time, but I can’t access them. Jane’s has a couple of very short articles with less detail than Wikipedia.

            My Sri Lankan geography is a bit weak and I can’t really tell the specific locations of Vettalaikeni and Veththelakerni (Vetrilaikerny? Transliteration can be a challenge) and how far apart they are (while remaining within approx 10-12 km of Elephant Pass). Based on the descriptions and having stared at Google Maps, I get the impression that we’re talking about different parts of the approx 20km stretch of beach in NE Sri Lanka. Still, it appears that the LTTE defended at least one landing site, and the Sri Lankan joint landing force used a combination of fire and manoeuvre to conduct the landing. The account in French has the infantry themselves conducting fire and manoeuvre in the surf and on the beach. The other accounts are less precise on that point. In the absence of other info, I personally consider the operation to have been an opposed landing at the macro level and maybe on the soldier-level too. Your interpretation may vary.

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