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Selected Documents Relating to the Tonkin Gulf Incidents of 2 and 4 August 1964, cont.

Related Resources:

Formerly Classified Documents Subsequent to 4 August
Abbreviations

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Summary of Key Messages Leading to JCS Decision to Order Reprisal Attacks:

SUMMARY OF KEY MESSAGES LEADING TO JCS DECISION TO ORDER REPRISAL ATTACKS AGAINST NORTH VIETNAMESE BASES AND PT BOATS ON 5 AUGUST 1965

041240
CTU 72.1.2 reports that he has received information indicating attack by PGM/P-4 is imminent and that he is proceeding SE at best speed from 19-10.7 N, 107-00 E.

041336
CTG 77.5 reports that 4 a/c were launched at 041326 and relays report from CTG 72.1 that he has two skunks and three bogies.

041359
CTU 72.1.2 reports opening fire on PT boats.

041408
CTG 77.5 reports that bogies near DESOTO Patrol have disappeared from the screen and skunks are not closing at this time but are maintaining a distance of 27 miles.

041434
CTG 77.5 reports that 2 original skunks opened to 40 miles, but that 3 new skunks were contacted at 13 miles and closed to 11 miles at 40 knots. CAP/Strike/Photo a/c overhead Maddox.

041442
CTG 72.1 reports to CINCPACFLT, JCS, CNO, etc. that he commenced firing on closing PT boat at 041440Z. (Msg received in OPNAV at 041531Z).

041458
CTG 77.5 reported that PT from west continued attacking run. Maddox opened fire. PT launched torpedo -- withdrawing ... (to CNO & others, including JCS).

041458
CTG 72.1 reported to JCS, CNO, etc. that he was under continuous torpedo attack.

041509
CINCPACFLT to COMSEVENTHFLT: "for planning purposes there is a strong possibility you will be directed on short notice to lay on armed recce at sea against swatows or reprisal attack against Swatow bases such as Quang Xhe, Be Thuy or Phuc Loi."

041533
CTG 72.1 msg relayed by COMSTA PHIL "torpedo missed". (Readdressed from CINCPACFLT to CNO and JCS and received in OPNAV at 041757Z).

041535
CTG 72.1 msg passed by NAVCOMSTA PHIL "That's Nr. 7 Torpedo and two torpedoes in water" ... Passed at 041621Z by CINCPACFLT to JCS & CNO.

041538
CTG 72.1 msg passed at 041617 by CINCPACFLT to CNO, JCS, etc.: "Torpedoes missed. Another fired at us. Four torpedoes in water. And five torpedoes in water."

041540
COMSEVENTHFLT to CTG 72.1: do no proceed SE so as to preclude resuming patrol 5 August. "It is emphasized that patrols will be continued. If confronted with attack use all means available to destroy enemy including aggressive pursuit."

041542
CTG 72.1 to CINCPACFLT, JCS, CNO, etc. "Undetermined number of torpedoes attack. Maddox alone has evaded about 10 torpedoes. Two torpedo craft sunk. No Casualties to us yet. Lack of illumination proglem. AD and A4D on scene."

041607
CINCPAC directed COMUSMACV to recall all RVN PTF's to Dnang ASAP. Discontinue 34A MAROPS that may be in progress.

041616
CTG 72.1 msg passed by NAVCOMSTA PHIL and re-addressed at 041737Z by CINCPACFLT to CNO, JCS, etc: "We think a PT boat sunk one of its own boats."

041642
CTG 72.1 msg relayed by NAVCOMSTAPHIL and re-addressed at 041714Z from CINCPACFLT to CNO, JSC & others: "Nr 22 in water now." (received in OPNAV at 041753Z).

041644
CINCPACFLT to COMSEVENTHFLT -- upon completion of current action Desoto Patrol should immediately be resumed in area described ... At earliest time launch armed recce...

041657
CINCPAC recommends to JCS that authority be granted to conduct punitive U.S. air strikes ASAP in increasing stages of severity ... and hot pursuit into NVN airspace.

041727
CTG 72.1 UNCLAS flash msg to JCS, CNO, etc. states: "Review of action makes many reported contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful. Freak weather effects and overeager sonarmen may have accounted for many reports. No actual visual sightings by Maddox suggest complete evaluation before any further action."

041732
CTG 77.5 sitrep #7 to JCS, CNO, etc. reports that Desoto reports at least 21 torpedoes launched -- no hits. Three PT's reported sunk .... no torp. firings last 15 minutes. Desoto patrol reports no contacts on screen.

041754 & 041830
Same message sent twice from CTG 72.1, gives recap as follows:
"T. Joy fired upon by small caliber guns and illuminated by search light. Joy tracked two sets on contacts. Fired on 13 contacts. Claims positive sunk hits 3, 1 sunk, probable hits.

Joy also reports no actual visual sightings or wake .... entire action leaves many doubts except for apparent attempted ambush at beginning. Suggest thorough reconnaissance in daylight by aircraft.

041848
CTU 72.1.2 sitrep received in OPNAV at 042034Z states that details of action present a confusing picture. That he has interviewed witnesses who made positive visual sightings of cockpit lights or similar passing near Maddox ... etc.

041928
CTG 77.5 sitrep Nr. 8 (received in OPNAV at 042007Z) says that returning pilots report no visual sightings of any vessels or wakes other than T. Joy and Maddox, wakes from which were visible for 2-3000 yards...

042010
CTG 77.5 to CTG 72.1: "COMPLY COMSEVENTHFLT 041249 ACKNOWLEDGE ... intend refuel you night of 5th vic watchdog station."

042005
COMSEVENTHFLT to CTG 72.1 "You are again directed to resume patrol..."

042014
CINCPACFLT to COMSEVENTHFLT, "be prepared at 050700G to strike following targets: ... (Vinh oil storage plus PT base at various locations, plus NVN pt craft) (emphasizes that targets are boats only at piers and at sea plus Vinh oil storage.)

042020
COMSEVENTHFLT gives recap of engagement as of 042000Z -- two PT's sunk, two damaged. T. Joy fired at and illuminated by searchlight.

042119
JCS to CINCPAC -- by 0700 local on 5 August conduct a one-time maximum effort attack on following targets: (see msg).


Source: Tonkin Gulf Collection, 1962-1984 [1964 and 1968], Series I: Misc. Subject Files, 1964, Box 1 of 12, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.

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July-August 1964 DESOTO Patrol -- Complete Chronology, n.d.:

JULY-AUGUST 1964 DESOTO PATROL -- COMPLETE CHRONOLOGY

List no. DTG(Z) Brief
1 151741
AUG 61
Gives concept and directive for Desoto Patrols
Cancelled by C7F 070524Z JAN 64
2 62312
FEB 63
Sets forth data required to be included in future proposals for Desoto Patrols.
3 70524
JAN 64
Gives revised concept and directive for Desoto Patrols.
JULY 1964
4 100342 CINCPAC asked CINCPACFLT to submit proposal for Gulf of Tonkin Desoto patrol to begin not later than 1 August 1964.
5 140203 CINCPACFLT submitted his plan IAW CINCPAC 100342.
6 152123 CINCPAC submitted plan for Desoto Patrol to JCS requested approval to conduct patrol. Noted last Tonkin patrol was in March and was limited by weather. Says "it is necessary to get a feel for DRV
coastal patrol activity."
7 170531 COMSEVENTHFLT outlines plan for USS Maddox to conduct Desoto patrol through Gulf of Tonkin with COMDESDIV 192 embarked as CTG 72.1.
8 171456 JCS replied to CINCPAC stating that mission is under consideration and should not be executed until advised.
9 18 CNO memorandum 00197-64 of 18 July 1964 directed that an analysis of Desoto patrols and CVS Sea of Japan operations be undertakenwithin OPNAV to determine whether or not they were still advantageous.
10 182057 CINCPAC told CINCPACFLT to not execute the planned Desoto patrol outlined in COMSEVENTHFLT's 170531 until further directed.
11 191937 CINCPAC told CINCCOMSEVENTHFLT that he was passing CINCPAC's 182057 to him for action.
11A 192241 COMUSMACV advises that Desoto Patrol proposed by CINCPACFLT's 140203Z (List No. 5)is not expected to interfere with 34A operationsprovided the Desoto schedule is agreed to or 36 hour notice of planned deviations are provided COMUSMACV (See List No. 14A).
12 210005 CTF 72 redesignated CDD 192 as CTG 72.1 vice 72.1.0.
13 221930 JCS approved the Tonkin Gulf Desoto patrol for July-August 1964.
14 222159 CINCPAC advised CINCPACFLT that the planned Desoto patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin has been approved.
14A 222224 CINCPACFLT responds to COMUSMACV 192241Z (NOTAL) and says that flexibility has been included in the Desoto Patrol concept; however, it may not always be feasibile to provide at least 36 hours notice of changes to scheduled transits through more distant reference points will be available. Can withdraw options if undue interference with 34A operations is expeted to result therefrom. DIRLAUTH with COMUSMACV and COMSEVENTHFLT to assure all feasible measures are taken to avoid interference with 34A operations.
15 230245 COMSEVENTHFLT directed Maddox on Desoto Patrol
16 232125 CNO invited comment from CINCPACFLT concerning the value of the Desoto patrols (is related to CNO Memo 00197-64 of 18 July 64 (List No. 9 above)).
16A 250705 COMUSMACV replied to CINCPACFLT's 222224 (List No. 14A) stating, "appreciate that 36 hour notice of changes cannot always be provided. As long as COMUSMACV (SOG) is given expeditious notice of SITREPS and changes, 34A operations will be adjusted to prevent interference."
17 252132 CINPACFLT directed COMSEVENTHFLT to conduct the planned Desoto Patrol IAW CINCPACFLT's 140203Z (List No. 5)
18 260955 COMSEVENTHFLT -- precaution to avoid other action near DRV coast
19 302237 CINCPACFLT replied to CNO's 232125Z JUL strongly supporting the continuation of Desoto patrols four to six times per year in areas normally restricted to fleet operations
20 310135 CTU 72.1.2 JULY-AUGUST DESOTO SITREP 1 conducting UNREP with AO-51 at 17-01N, 108-29E. 2 unident PT passed ahead 5 nm and 2 astern 3 miles. Enr Pt Alpha at 310004Z.
21 311320 CTG 72.1 OPSUM for 311200Z JUL 64
AUGUST 64 DTG(Z)
22 011200 CTG 72.1 OPSUM for 011200Z JUL 64.
23 011954 CTU 72.1.2 JUL-AUG DESOTO SITSUM 2 -- "Contemplate serious reaction my movements VIC Pt. Charlie in near future. RCVD info indicating possible hostile action."
24 012048 CTU 72.1.2 JULY-AUGUST SITREP 1. "Have terminated orbit. Proceeding due east from Pt Charlie at 10 knots until daylight. Heavy concentration of junks to north."
25 012245 CTU 72.1.2 JULY-AUGUST DESOTO Sitrep 2. "Conditions unchanged. UNODIR am proceeding Pt Delta. If info received concerning hostile intent by DRV is accurate, and have no reason to believe it is not, consider continuance of patrol presents an unacceptable risk.
26 020100 COMSEVENTHFLT notes COMDESDIV 192's: 011954Z, 012048Z and 012245Z. When considered prudent, resume itinerary IAW COMSEVENTHFLT 170531Z. You are authorized to deviate from itinerary at any time you consider unacceptable risk to exist. Keep all concerned advised.
27 020315 CTU 71.1.2. Desoto Patrol arrived Pt Delta 021300Z. Approx 75 junks in area -- no further evidence of hostile intent received.
28 020531Z CTG 72.1. Desoto Sitrep. Sighted 3 PT boats 10 miles N of Hon Me Island, and 2 Swatow boats to N of Hon Me.29 020740Z CTG 72.1. "Am being approached by high speed craft with apparent intention of torpedo attack. Intend open fire if necessary self defense."
29 020740Z CTG 72.1. "Am being approached by high speed craft with apparent intention of torpedo attack. Intend open fire if necessary self defense
30 020807 CTG 72.1 reports "being attacked by 3 DRV PT craft. I am opening fire with 5 inch battery. Air support from TICO ETA 15 min." (an UNCLAS msg).
31 020808 CTG 77.5: "Maddox at 25 knots claims being pursued by 3 high speed 45-knot surface craft. Am providing 4 F8E cover armed with zuni, etc.
32 020829 CTG 72.1: PT craft completed torpedo attack and retiring. Ship sustained no damage. Am retiring to southeast (UNCLAS).
33 020838 CINCPACFLT Flash msg reports attack on Maddox.
34 020859 COMSEVENTHFLT directs CTG 72.1 to retire from area until situation clears. Do not pursue attacking craft.Fire as necessary in self defense.
35 020907 COMSEVENTHFLT tells CTG 77.5 to direct his NW picket to close Maddox at best speed. Give Maddox all practicable air support.
36 020919 COMSEVENTHFLT tells CTG 77.6 to make all preparations to get task group 77.6 underway but take no action which would cause public speculation.
37 020932 CTG 77.5 reports to COMSEVENTHFLT that "Maddox started" south 020815Z."
38 020945 COMSEVENTHFLT tells CTG 77.5 to get maximum photo coverage of attacking PT craft "do not over-fly NVN or territorial waters (w/in 3 miles).
39 020949 CTG 72.1 action sitrep. Retiring at best speed to REVU with T. Joy thence TICO UNODIR. Present Sit. calm.
40 021008 CTG 77.5 gives SITREP #1 on Torpedo attack on DD good wrap-up of situation to that time.
41 021104 CINCPACFLT considers that in view of Maddox incident "it is in our best interest that we assert right of freedom of seas and resume patrol with two DDs." Directs COMSEVENTHFLT that unless otherwise directed he is to conduct patrol with 2 DDs when ready to do so.
42 021115 CTG 72.1 gives Gulf of Tonkin Action Sitrep course 149, speed 28, no significant events period this sitrep
43 021118 CTG 77.5 gives Sitrep #2 on torpedo attack
44 021255 CINCPAC concurs with CINCPACFLT 021104 above and requests JCS approval. Directs CINCPACFLT to not execute until JCS approval is received.
45 021255 COMSEVENTHFLT directs COMDESDIV 192 to resume Desoto patrol in Tonkin Gulf IAW CINCPACFLT 021104 above on 3 AUG 65 with Turner Joy in company.
45A 021404 CTG 77.5 tells COMDESDIV 192 (in Maddox) to complete UNREP ASAP and advise all concerned ETC UNREP and ETA Pt Charlie
46 021407 CINCPACFLT directs COMSEVNETFLT to not execute patrol directed by CINCPACFLT 021104 and COMSEVENTHFLT 021255 above until approval from higher authority is received.
47 021443 CTU 72.1.2 gives Desoto 021800 OPSUM Para 4. states that it is apparent that DRV now considers itself at war with US...resumption of patrol can only be safely undertaken by DD, CL/CA team with continuous air cover.
48 021506 CTG 77.5 Sitrep #3 of air attack on PT boats -- good wrap-up. Tells of a/c being hit while attacking PT boats.
49 021529 COMSEVENTHFLT tells COMDESDIV 192 to remain vic.17-30N, 108-00E until further clearance received. Refers CINCPACFLT 021407 (List No. 46) to him for action.
50 021725 JCS tells CINCPAC that he is authorized to continue Desoto Patrol in Gulf of Tonkin as per CINCPACFLT 021104 above. Also cautions, unter alia, "Avoid close approaches to NVN coast during period when maritime activities related to OPLAN 34A are underway."
51 021920 CINCPAC directs CINCPACFLT to continue the two DD Desoto Patrol IAW JCS 021725 above
52 022225 COMSEVENTHFLT directs COMDESDIV 192 to assume OPCON of Turner Joy and direct Maddox and Turner Joy to resume patrol IAW CINCPACFLT 021104 and CINCPAC 021255 above.
53 022330 CTU 72.1.2 gives postit., course and speed. ETA Pt. Charlie at 030640Z
54 022349 JCS refers to JCS 021725 above and tells CINCPAC: "in event US vessels are attacked in international waters (11 miles off shore or more), you will seek and destroy the attacking vessel; however, pursuit into hostile waters or air space is not repeat not authorized."
55 030022 COMSEVENTHFLT to COMUSMACV, "Require ASAP info on timing of your SOG ops south of planned Desoto itinerary period 3 and 5 AUG. Info necessary for coordination to avoid any interference your SKOPS."
56 030112 CINCPAC tells CINCPACFLT to comply with JCS 022349Z (List. No. 54).
57 030323 COMSEVENTHFLT tells CTG 77.5 to conduct photo recco of the PT boat reported to be dead in water. Remain 20 miles from CH COM territory, 11 miles from NVN, 4 miles from islands.
58 030335 COMUSMACV asks COMSEVENTHFLT to keep Desoto units clear of 3-4 AUGUST SOG operations area above 17th and remain clear of Hom Matt, etc. 5-10 AUG.
59 030553 COMSEVENTHFLT to CTF 77: if another unprovoked attack is made on Desoto patrol, it is mandatory that maximum effort be made to achieve complete destruction of attacking units...realize that rules of engagement are confusing and am attempting to clarify.
60 030745 CTG 72.1 Sitsum 5: arrived Pt Charlie 030727Z. No unusual activity noted thus far.
61 031126 CTG 77.6. gives general plan for operations of CTG 77.6 during period 4-10 August 1964.
62 031134 COMSEVENTHFLT
62A 031231 COMUSMACV requests that Desoto Patrol ships remain north of 19-10N until 060600H to avoid interference with 34A operations.
63 031312 CTG 77.5 reports search completed. No PT boat sighted.
64 031403 CTU 72.1.2 gives details on tracks of Desoto patrol from 030727.
65 031546 CTU 72.1.2 gives Sitsum 6. Strongly suspect shadowing by bloc patrol/PT craft.
66 031710 COMSEVENTHFLT directs COMDESDIV 192 to remain north of 19-10N on track between points Delta and Charlie, and that futher instruction will follow.
67 031712 COMSEVENTHFLT tells CINCPACFLT that he plans to terminate Desoto Patrol after 2 days more of operations, i.e. two days of patrol subsequent
to 2 August attack on Maddox.
67A 032040 COMSEVENTHFLT asks CTG 77.5 for report of ammunition expended and that all boats were hit by 20MM fire on straffing runs.
68 032253 CTG 72.1 acknowledges receipt of COMSEVENTHFLT 031710 (List No. 66).
69 032259 CINCPACFLT tells CINCPAC that in his view the two days of patrols planned by COMSEVENTHFLT 031712 above "do not adequately demonstrate U.S. resolve ..." and recommends that the patrol continue until 7 August. Also comments that this will possibly draw NVN PGMs to the northward away from the area of 34A operations and will eliminate Desoto Patrol interference with 34A operations.
70 032351 JCS apparently gives further directives concerning execution of the Desoto Patrol
71 032353 CINCPAC recommends rules of engagement to JCS. Says that JCS 021725 and JCS 022349 appear to be a retreat at a time when aggressive measures are necessary
72 040140 CTG 72.1 comments on List No. 69 and says that DRV considers patrol directly involved with 34A operations, etc ... and that air cover over DDs on Desoto patrol must be overhead and controlled by DDs at all times.
74 040321 CINCPAC tells CINCPACFLT to comply with JCS 032351Z (List No. 70)
75 040511 CTG 72.1 Sitsum 7. Posit vicinity Pt. Delta. No significant signtings/detections
76 041238 CTF 77 directs CTG 72.1 to proceed at best speed to ___N -- 110E, and be prepared to illuminate to assist aircraft only if they provide support.
77 041249 COMSEVENTHFLT directs CTG 72.1 at first light 5 AUG to proceed to intercept original track between Pt Charlie and Delta at 19-10N. Further instruction to follow
77A 041359 COMSEVENTHFLT refers to CTF 77's 041238Z
(List No. 76 above) and states he does not understand CTF 77's order to proceed to ___N. States that "instructions from higher authority are for TG 72.1 to remain north of 19-10N."
78 041359 CTU 72.1.2 reports opening fire on PT boats attacking on night of 4 August 1964.
79 041540 COMSEVENTHFLT tells CTG 72.1 that patrols will be continued. If confronted with attack use all means available to destroy enemy including aggressive pursuit
80 041554 CINCPAC directs CINCPACFLT "in view of PT boat attacks on T. Joy and Maddox, take steps to destroy all DRV PT boats and Swatows in the general area of the engagement in the Tonkin Gulf. Aircraft to cease pursuit at the three mile limit; ships at 11 miles."
81 041607 CINCPAC directs COMUSMACV: "Recall all RVN PTFs to Danang ASAP. Discontinue 34A MAROPS that may be in progress."
82 041644 CINCPACFLT to COMSEVENTHFLT, imperative that all NVN patrol craft which participated in tonight's action be destroyed. Resume patrol CINCPAC has directed cancellation of maritime activities which might interfere with your operations.
83 041657 CINCPAC to JCS, recommends authorization be granted to conduct punitive U.S. Air strikes ASAP in increasing stages of severity ... and recommend aircraft be auth hot pursuit into territorial airspace of NVN.
84 041718 CINCPAC to CINCPACFLT, "auth granted to declare hostile and engage any DRV/CHICOM aircraft whose actions and behavior indicate within reasonable certainty that air attack on U.S. forces is intended."
85 041746 CTG 77.5 tells CTG 72.1 to comply with List No. 77 above and cancels para 2 of his 041238Z concerning.USS Moore.
86A 041830 CTG 72.1 gives Desoto Action Sitrep. Says "entire
action leaves many doubts except for apparent attempted ambush at beginning..."
86 041814 CINCPAC tells JCS and others that COMSEVENTHFLT set DEFCON 3 at 041653 due attacks on Desoto Patrol.
87 041848 CTU 72.1.2 sends Desoto Action Sitrep. Certain that original ambush was bonafide. Witnesses made positive visual sightings of cockpit lights.
88 041928 CTG 77.5 Desoto Patrol Sitrep No. 8: returning pilots report no visual sightings of any vessels or wakes other than those of Turner Joy and Maddox ... visible for 2 -- 3000 yards. Pilots fired ordnance in areas where skunks reports and in areas where directed by controllers. Pilots also report restricted visibility (3 miles) and deteriorating weather (3000 feet broken)
89 042005 COMSEVENTHFLT directs CTG 72.1 "You are again directed to resume patrol IAW CINCPACFLT 041644. Close designated patrol area..."
90 042014 CINCPACFLT directs COMSEVENTHFLT to be prepared to strike 6 PT/POL bases. Targets are boats only at piers and at sea plus VINH oil storage.
90A 042020 COMSEVENTHFLT Sitrep #2 Gulf of Tonkin action.
91A 042035 CINCPAC
92 042119 JCS to CINCPAC, by 0700 locat, 5 AUG conduct a one-time maximum effort attack of designated targets-- Swatow and PT boats.
92A 042134 CINCPACFLT asks Maddox and Turner Joy whether they can confirm absolutely that they were attacked and that PT boat(s) was sunk

Source: Tonkin Gulf Collection, 1962-1984 [1964 and 1968], Series I: Misc. Subject Files, 1964, Box 1 of 12, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.

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DESOTO Patrols, n.d.:

DESOTO PATROLS

In early 1962, COMSEVENTHFLT, with JCS approval, initiated destroyer surveillance patrols (designated DESOTO Patrols) along the coastlines of Asiatic Communist bloc countries. The objectives of the Desoto Patrols were to determine, in transit areas, seaward defense posture, air defense posture maritime activity; to conduct ELINT collection; photography and visual identification in support of the above; hydrographic and meteorlogical observations; and the collection of additional information as may be directed by higher authority.

In mid-April 1962, the USS De Haven (DD-727) initiated the first Desoto Patrol and steamed along the northern coastline of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Five additional patrols were conducted along the same track during the next five months without major incident or reaction by the PRC. The October and November patrols by USS Hollister (DD-788) and USS Shelton (DD-790) included for the first time surveillance of the North Korean coastline. Neither patrol induced significant bloc reaction.

In mid-December 1962 the USS Agerholm (DD-826) shifted the patrol area to the southeast coast of the PRC to include sailing around Hainan Island and for the first time, penetration of the Gulf of Tonkin as far north as 21 [degrees] N. Reaction was limited to the PRC issuing the 223rd serious warning with the Agerholm being accused of prolonged reconnaissance close to China's territorial waters, of entering her territorial waters, and closing a PRC tanker at high speed to within 300 meters.

During 1963 seven Desoto Patrols were conducted along the coastlines of the PRC, USSR, Indonesia, and North Vietnam without major incident. In mid-April USS Edwards (DD-619) patrolled the coastlines of Hainan Island and North Vietnam from the Tonkin Gulf and the South China Sea. Edwards' closest point of approach was restricted to 20 nautical miles. Reaction to Edwards' patrol was limited to the destroyer being shadowed by at least five and possibly six DRV South Sea Fleet vessels; possibly five reactions by PRC aircraft; and generation of the PRC's 239th and 240th serious warnings.

In late February and early March of 1964 the USS John R.Craig, (DD-885) patrolled the Gulf of Tonkin while another destroyer remained at the southern entrance to the Gulf to provide support in the event of an incident. The Craig's voyage was unique in that it was the first Desoto Patrol that had been authorized to approach closer than 20 miles to the PRC coastline. In fact the Craig operated as close as 12 nautical miles to the mainland and four nautical miles off some of the North Vietnamese off-shore islands. Reactions included the Craig being shadowed by a Kronstadt Class patrol craft for a short period, shadowed for two hours by an aircraft, and generation of the PRC's 280th serious warning.

In July 1964 CNO requested CINCPACFLT to comment on the value of the Desoto Patrols and CVS operations in the Sea of Japan. CINCPACFLT replied that the advantages which accrue from these operations significantly outweigh any disadvantages; that in addition to the basic operational intelligence gained, the principal advantage accrued was the overall training accomplished and resultant long range benefits to combat readiness; that a further advantage was the opportunity to assert our traditional belief in the right of free use of international waters. Accordingly, CINCPACFLT stated his intention to schedule Desoto patrols four to six times a year in areas normally restricted to fleet operations.

OPLAN 34A MARITIME OPERATIONS 1964
Source: Annex A (Special operations) to 1964 MACV Command History.

In January 1964 the Special Operations Group (SOG) was established at Headquarters, MACV. The mission of this organization (MACSOG) was to execute, inter alia, an intensified program of harrassment, diversion, capture of prisoners and acquisition of intelligence against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). This overall plan was designated MACV OPLAN 34A.

Maritime operations (MAROPS) against the DRV consisted of raids on facilities, coastal patrol craft and fishing junks (to capture crews); bombardment of shore installations; and long range probes.

During the, period March-June a total of eight Patrol Torpedo Fast (PTF) boats were delivered to the U.S. Naval Advisory Detachment (USNAD) at Danang for use under the operational control of the Maritime Operations Section of MACSOG. PTF's 1 and 2 were reactivated U.S.-built aluminum hull boats while PTF's 3-8 were new Norwegian-built wooden hull boats of the "Nasty" Class. All eight boats were capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and were each armed with two 20-millimeter and two 40-millimeter single mounts. PTF's 7 and 8 were later armed with 81-millimeter mortars. Training of approximately 145 Vietnamese Navy crew members was accomplished by U.S. Navy Mobile Support Team #1-64. Maintenance, repair and logistical support for the PTF's was provided by COMAVPHIL.

During 1964 a total of 37 missions against DRV targets were conducted with a loss of 10 Vietnamese Navy personnel and no boats. These missions included capture of DRV junk crews, destruction of shore installations and bombardment of Hon Nieu and Hon Mat islands and a radar site at Cap Vinh Son. As a result of the DRV torpedo boat attacks on USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy in the Tonkin Gulf on 2-4 August, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed a two month stand-down of OPLAN 34A MAROPS.

Sources for Desoto Patrol background and information:
CINCPAC Command History 1962 (S), 1963 (S), 1964 (TS); CTF msg 070524Z Jan 64. (S). (CTF72). Memorandum for the Record (S), CDR H.E. FITZWATER, Joint Reconnaisance Center, JCS dtd 8/13/64; CNO msg 232125Z Jul 64. (S). (CINCPACFLT); CINCPACFLT msg 302237Z Jul 64. (S). (CNO).


Source: Tonkin Gulf Collection, 1962-1984 [1964 and 1968], Series I: Misc. Subject Files, 1964, Box 1 of 12, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.

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Memorandum on North Vietnamese Territorial Waters, 1 Feb 1968:
JAG: 10: JRB: nle
Ser: 008

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY

Subj: North Vietnamese Territorial Waters

Encl:
(1) DNI message to ALUSNA SAIGON dated 1 May 063 (SECRET)
(2) International Law File Note concerning Foreign Broadcast Intercept Service Number 42 of 1 September 1964
(3) SAIGON message dated 17 August 1964

1. The following information is submitted concerning the breadth of the territorial sea claimed by North Vietnam.

2. During the period between acquiring independence from French control and the Tonkin Bay Incident of August 1964, North Vietnam issued no public announcement of a new claim to a territorial sea broader than the three mile claim of the French. Enclosure (1) dated May 1, 1963 noted:

According best information, DRV has not publicly proclaimed limits of territorial seas or baselines and points from which measured. Absence of such proclamation possibly due fact DRV did not participate in 1958 or 1960 Conferences on Law of Sea. In absence of such a proclamation, it is assumed they possess the three mile limit established by international law. However, there is good possibility DRV will subscribe to twelve mile limit claimed by other communist nations if issue were raised.

3. When the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a conference to consider the International Law Commission's draft articles on the Law of the Sea to be held in the Spring of 1958, the French delegate, Mr. Pinto, stated that France wanted to maintain its traditional position in favor of a three mile limit. Furthermore, the prepared study for the United States Delegation to the Second United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1960) listed France as claiming a three mile territorial sea and further stated that she desired the least possible extension via any compromise that may arise.

4. Cambodia, a state previously under French rule, stated that although Cambodia had no legislation of its own on maritime law drafted since gaining its independence, it applied the principles of French law. This statement was contained in a letter of 2 April 1956 from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cambodia, and appears in the American Journal of International Law, Volume 50 at page 1044. This letter further stated that Cambodia follows the rule of French law, under which the territorial sea has a breadth of three miles. Parenthetically, it is noted that Cambodia subsequently has increased its territorial seas claim.

5. It is a general principle of International Law that the legal system of the former state remains in force in the territory of the succeeding state until modified by municipal legislation of the new sovereign or by the international conventions that have created the new state. The Geneva Accords are silent on the point of territorial seas, and as noted above North Vietnam has not made public any proclamation on this matter prior to the Tonkin Bay Incident.

6. It is concluded therefore, that foreign states were entitled to rely on the application of the French claim of three miles in regard to the extent of the North Vietnamese claims to territorial sea limits. The fact that a sister successor state, Cambodia, publicly adopted the French three mile rule gives further justification to this reliance.

7. The United States was further free to rely on this position in view of the official announcement of the United States contained in the statement of Ambassador Arthur H. Dean, Chairman to the American Delegation to the Law of the Sea Convention in which he stated at the closing session of the 1958 Conference in part as follows:

We have made it clear that in our view there is no obligation an the part of states adhering to the 3-mile rule to recognize claims on the part of other states to a greater breadth of territorial sea. And on that we stand. (U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea; Dept. State Bull., 30 JUN 58, p.1111.)

8. Even after the Tonkin incident, it is debatable whether Hanoi has made an official assertion sufficient to place other nations on notice of a twelve mile claim. Enclosure (2) reveals that Hanoi made a claim to twelve miles, on September 1, 1964, in a radio broadcast concerning the Tonkin incidents but no documentary substantiation of this claim appears to exist.

9. Enclosure (3) is a copy of a Canadian message dated 17 August, 1964 which was sent by the Canadian Member of the International Control Commission to his Department in Ottawa. The Member was advised by a North Vietnamese Colonel that the territorial sea claim of DRV was twelve miles like all communist countries. There was no official statement, however, subsequent to this conversation.

10. As a matter of fact, all communist countries do not claim a twelve mile territorial sea. Examples are Cuba and Poland which claim three miles and Yugoslavia and Albania which claim ten miles.

11. In summary, Indochina under French control had a three mile territorial sea. When North Vietnam became independent, it made no attempt to modify this three mile claim until after the Tonkin Bay incidents. Even following these incidents, North Vietnam has not officially promulgated a twelve mile claim, but only most informally indicates that it presently claims twelve miles.

/signed/ WILFRED HEARN
WILFRED HEARN


Enclosure(1)
FM DNI
TO ALUSNA SAIGON
INFO CINCPACFLT
NORTH VIETNAMESE INTERNATIONAL WATERS

A. Your 010339Z (NOTAL)

1. According best information, DRV has not publicly proclaimed limits of territorial seas or baselines and points from which measured. Absence of such proclamation possibly due fact DRV did not participate in 1958 or 1960 Conferences on Law of Sea. In absence of a proclamation, it is assumed they possess the three mile limit established by international law. However, there is good possibility DRV will subscribe to twelve mile limit claimed by other communist nations if issue were raised.

2. DRV and CHICOMS have two known agreements:

a. "Maritime Transport Agreement" signed 12 Dec 56 permits ships both nations use each others ports and facilities; gives preference to ships carrying goods and passengers; offers to exchange info on port facilities.

b. Fishing agreement signed 25 Apr 57, believed renewed in 1962, deals exclusively with exchange of mutual fishing rights.


Enclosure (2)
NOTE:

Vietnam (North) T.W. Claim

Foreign Broadcast Intercept Service 42 of 1 September 1964. North Vietnam Radio Hanoi stated concerning Gulf of Tonkin incident: "DRV declares that the territorial sea is 12 miles."


Enclosure (3)
FM SAIGON AUG 17/64 CONFD
TO TT EXTERNAL 428 PRIORITY DE DELHI
INFC DELHI
TT LDN EMBPARIS GENEVA WASHDC CCOS DE OTT
TT CGS DE CCOS
BAG MCOW WARSAW DE LDN
BAG PHNOMPEN VIENTIAN DE SAIGON
NORTHVIETNAM TERRITORIAL WATERS

IN COURSE OF DINNER AT CHAIRMANS RESIDENCE IN HANOI I ASKED COL HA VAN MAU WHAT WERE TERRITORIAL WATERS CLAIMED BY DRVN. HE SAID THAT THEY CLAIMED 12 MILES QUOTE, LIKE OTHER SOCIALIST COUNTRIES UNQUOTE. HE MADE NO RPT NO REF TO VARIATIONS ON THIS RULE (EG CLAIM TO WHOLE OF GULF OF TONKIN AS TERRITORIAL WATERS) BUT EXPRESSED STRONG OBJECTION TO ALLEGED STATEMENT BY USA ASST SECRETARY OF DEFENCE VANCE THAT USA RECOGNIZIED ONLY THREE MILE LIMIT FOR DRVIN.

2. I TOLD HA VAN MAU THAT OFFICIAL STATEMENT AS TO TERRITORIAL WATERS OF DRVN WAS ESSENTIAL TO COMMISSION FOR ITS EXAM OF CERTAIN ALLEGATIONS WHICH HAD BEEN MADE RE RECENT EVENTS. I ASKED HIM IF HE WOULD GIVE JACKSON FOR ONWARD TRANSMISSION TO ME PRECISE REF AS TO WHEN THESE LIMITS WERE OFFICIALLY PROCLAIMED. HA VAN MAU AGREED TO DO SO AND I HAVE ASKED JACKSON TO FOLLOW UP THIS UNDERTAKING

SEABORN


Source: Tonkin Gulf Collection, 1962-1984 [1964 and 1968], Series I: Misc. Subject Files, 1964, Box 1 of 12, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.


12 August 2004