Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Navy and Coast Guard Ships Associated with Service in Vietnam and Exposure to Herbicide Agents

This ships list is intended to provide VA regional offices with a resource for determining whether a particular US Navy or Coast Guard Veteran of the Vietnam era is eligible for the presumption of Agent Orange herbicide exposure based on operations of the Veteran’s ship.
According to 38 CFR § 3.307(a)(6)(iii), eligibility for the presumption of Agent Orange exposure requires that a Veteran’s military service involved “duty or visitation in the Republic of Vietnam” between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.  This includes service within the country of Vietnam itself or aboard a ship that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam.  However, this does not include service aboard a large ocean-going ship that operated only on the offshore waters of Vietnam, unless evidence shows that a Veteran went ashore.  Inland waterways include rivers, canals, estuaries, and deltas.  They do not include open deep-water bays and harbors such as those at Da Nang Harbor, Qui Nhon Bay Harbor, Nha Trang Harbor, Cam Ranh Bay Harbor, Vung Tau Harbor, or Ganh Rai Bay.  These are considered to be part of the offshore waters of Vietnam because of their deep-water anchorage capabilities and open access to the South China Sea.
In order to promote consistent application of the term “inland waterways”, VA has determined that Ganh Rai Bay and Qui Nhon Bay Harbor are no longer considered to be inland waterways, but rather are considered open water bays.  This is a change from previous policy.  As of February 2, 2016, new ships will not be added to the list based on operations in those locations and no additional dates for operations in those locations will be added to those ships already on the list. Veterans who served aboard ships already on the list for those locations will retain the presumption of Agent Orange exposure.  New Veteran claimants who were aboard ships in those locations, during the dates already on the list, will also qualify for the presumption of exposure.  This presumption will extend to all future disability claims from these Veterans.  However, Veterans who were aboard ships in those locations, during new dates not currently on the list, will not qualify for the presumption.  Likewise, Veterans aboard new ships in those locations will not qualify for the presumption of exposure.

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