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Chief of Naval Operations, Report on the Naval Quarantine of Cuba, Operational Archives Branch, Post 46 Command File, Box 10, Washington, DC.

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The Naval Quarantine of Cuba, 1962: Abeyance and Negotiation, 31 October -13 November


As political negotiations began in the UN and bilaterally between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the naval quarantine entered a new phase. On the 30th, the President agreed to suspend aerial surveillance and active quarantine operations pending the outcome of UN attempts to secure inspection guarantees and a show of Soviet good faith. The next several days, Cuban actions involved primarily only surveillance activity.

Wednesday, 31 October

Soviet merchantmen approaching the quarantine zone continued to heave to upon reaching the 500-mile line. By 31 October, Kladna and Karl Marx had joined Belovodsk and Groznyy in lying dead in the water.

Other significant developments on this first day of the new phase of operations centered around reappraisal of submarine surveillance successes and committal of Latin American assistance to the U.S. military action.

An unprecedented number of eleven submarines had been identified outside of Soviet home waters. At least four Russian "F" class submarines were operating in the area east of the Bahamas. All of these had been sighted on the surface at least once. In one case, one of these remained on the surface for 45 hours, under escort of two U.S. destroyers.

Latin American participation in the quarantine now involved two Argentine destroyers which were to report to the U.S. Commander South Atlantic at Trinidad on November 9. An Argentine submarine and a Marine battalion with lift were available if required. In addition, two Venezuelan destroyers and one submarine had reported to COMSOLANT, ready for sea by 2 November. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago offered the use of Chaguaramas Naval Base to warships of any OAS nation for the duration of the quarantine. The Dominican Republic had made available one escort ship. Colombia was reported ready to furnish units and had sent military officers to the U.S. to discuss this assistance. The Argentine Air Force informally offered three SA-16 aircraft in addition to forces already committed to the quarantine operation.

That evening there was an analysis of information and press reports concerning The UN Secretary General's conferences with Cuban Premier Castro and Soviet Deputy Premier Mikoyan's visit to Havana. About 1900R, CNO telephoned CINCLANT and later sent a confirming dispatch that the quarantine would be resumed at daybreak in the morning, but that ships should only be visually challenged and were not to be boarded without authority of the JCS. At 1930Q, Secretary McNamara called the duty admiral (RADM Gentner) reconfirming the quarantine order. He also advised that 14 low-level reconnaissance flights were to be ordered for the next day.

Diplomatic developments prompted CNO to advise his Fleet Commanders further on his thinking in regard to the possible outcome of the Cuban negotiations. U Thant had returned to New York the night before without securing inspection rights but with "assurances" that the missiles would be removed in a matter of days. Soviet Deputy Premier Mikoyan was en route to Cuba and Khrushchev's moderate First Deputy Premier Vasily Kuznetzov had been sent as a special envoy to the UN to negotiate on Cuban matters.

CNO's reflections were:

"Observers eventually will get into Cuba. The missiles will actually be seen being shipped out and so reported by numbers and types to the UN. The sites may even be inspected, but the entire country will not be opened or some rules will preclude inspection of the entire island. Obviously, some missiles and equipment will still remain. Khrushchev as a figure of 'peace-loving emissary' who withdrew his missiles from Cuba, will hammer for U. S. withdrawal of warmongering U. S. missiles in Turkey as show of peaceful intentions and reciprocation.

"Since observers will have seen missiles leaving Cuba, Khrushchev will say there is no need for reconnaissance flights. The flights will continue and no doubt Cubans will attempt to shoot them down Any photographs produced subsequent to the report of the missiles leaving Cuba would be branded as 'pre-missile-departure' photos, falsely introduced and, therefore, proof of further missile site construction would be a tough problem and create much wrangling.

"In the meantime, the Soviets will continue construction of sites, this time careful to camouflage as they progress, and strengthen their political hold on the island for spreading Communism in the Western Hemisphere. Just what lessons Khrushchev will have learned and what influence this present incident will have on his future actions is a matter to which we will give much attention in order to hopefully head him off -- or belatedly counter him." 

Thursday, 1 November

Reconnaissance flights over Cuba were resumed. Six sorties were launched and all six returned safely. Their photographs revealed that all known MRBM sites in Cuba were either being or had been dismantled. The launch pads were destroyed, apparently by bulldozing. Missiles and launch equipment had been removed, but their location was unknown.

Construction activity at the IRBM sites had stopped and the installations were partially destroyed. However, IL-28 bomber aircraft still were being assembled. One appeared to be completed, and two more were finished except for engine cowlings. Three others lacked only engines, while 21 remained in their crates.

Based on a review of all information available, the CNO Submarine Contact Evaluation Board estimated that at least four and possibly seven Soviet submarines were operating in the Southwestern Atlantic.

Photography was available of five Soviet "F" class submarines. The Board considered that two of these were the same submarine; however, should this not be the case, an additional positive submarine existed.

One contact located south of Jamaica was evaluated as a tentative positive submarine based on standard evaluation criteria. However, analysis of additional contact information was required before accepting this as a positive Soviet submarine.

The Board believed that the four "F" class submarines deployed from Northern Fleet waters during the period September 26 - October 1 based on a 7 knot speed of advance to the area of initial contact. The contact south of Jamaica would have had to maintain a significantly higher speed of advance than the others, or would have had to depart home waters about a week earlier.

It was believed that these submarines were en route to Cuban waters to commence operations from a Cuban port as a part of the offensive build-up. Their movements subsequent to the declaration of the quarantine indicated Moscow indecision on a new course of action.

The Cecil forced a Soviet "F" class submarine to the surface after 35 hours of continuous contact. When the SS surfaced, it was on course 090 as prescribed by our instructions to Moscow of 2 October. CINCLANTFLT sent the following congratulatory message to Cecil:

"Your persistent and expert holding of contact until exhaustion with Soviet 'F' class 011 has been followed with pride and admiration. Well done."

At 2235, Groznyy, one of four Soviet ships which had been lying dead in the water east of the quarantine line) began to move towards Cuba. Shortly after, the other three, BelovodskMir, and Karl Marx, got underway on a southwestward course. Other ships west of latitude 50W and heading for Cuban ports were Birgit and Sottern (Swedish); Camaguey (Cuban); Eref (Turkish); Kladna (Czech); Aspromonte (Italian); Theo Korner (East German), and Sierra Maestra (Cuban). CINCLANT's instructions were not to stop or board any of these ships unless authorized to do so by higher authority and to permit them to pass after identification-

Friday, 2 November through Wednesday, 7 November

For the next five days, the naval quarantine was characterized by continued surveillance of merchant ships entering and leaving Cuban ports and aerial reconnaissance of the dismantling of missile sites. Reconnaissance photographs showed the IRBM and MRBM sites were being disassembled and destroyed. Throughout this period, there also were repeated submarine contacts and surfacings.

Meanwhile the President appointed a special negotiating committee headed by Mr. John J. McCloy to deal with a Soviet delegation headed by First Deputy Premier Kuznetzov at the United Nations in New York. This group was to work out the details for removal of the offensive weapons in Cuba and arrange for a system of inspection.

Admiral Anderson was concerned by the fact that submarines had not been specifically included on the list of "offensive" weapons which were to be removed from Cuba. On November 3, CNO supplied the U.S. negotiators with an appraisal of the strategic implications of Soviet submarines operating from or being supported from a Cuban base. His views on this matter were:

"Soviet submarines already can refuel, reprovision and effect minor repairs in existing Cuban ports. Additional support capabilities can be introduced clandestinely in the absence of adequate inspection. The publicly announced 'fishing fleet' base is probably a cover for a submarine base, and the Soviets will continue covert attempts to improve this base capability. They ostensibly could turn over to Cuba submarines for 'defense' purposes.

"A submarine base in Cuba would enable the Soviets to place offensive weapon systems in the Western Hemisphere. The base could be used by surface-launching ballistic missile submarines as well as attack submarines. The SLBM's would be within range of American targets while in port or at sea. The U.S. ASW defensive perimeter, so important to the ASW and continental defense system, would be penetrated and the southern flank of the United States would be ex posed to short range ballistic missile attack.

"With the Gulf of Mexico a Soviet operating area, nuclear capabilities against the U.S. targets would be increased many fold. Caribbean and South American trade routes would be exposed to easy attack by Soviet submarines in early stages of a limited war at sea.

"The United States could no longer rely on intelligence information indicating a movement of large numbers of submarines toward the East Coast as a strategic warning. The Soviets could establish a pattern of operations near Cuba which would defeat or vitiate this indication. A Soviet-Cuban 'fishing fleet' could be used to support submarines, and consumable supplies, fuel and personnel could be transferred at sea to submarines operating in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

"The United States cannot permit the USSR to establish either a Soviet or a Cuban submarine base in Cuba or allow Cuban facilities to be used for direct support of submarine operations, any more than we can permit the establishment of nuclear-capable missile and air bases. The U. S. should formally announce that submarines are included in the list of offensive weapons systems in Cuba and that necessary measures will be taken to ensure submarines do not operate from or receive support from Cuban bases. Daily aerial surveillance of Cuba should include Cuban ports in which submarines would receive support. The 'fishing fleet' should be kept under routine surveillance, and surface patrols should be maintained off Cuban ports. in addition, South American ASW capabilities should be increased so that this operation can properly become an 'all-American' undertaking."

On 4 November, the Soviet merchant ship Emilian Pugachew was inspected at Balboa, C.Z. at 0830R. Cargo consisted of canned fish, fish oil, and lumber and no prohibited items. No further intercept was made on this ship.

COMSOLANT issued OpOrder 9-62 which promulgated the quarantine instructions for the southern approaches to the Caribbean. Stations were established covering all passages through the Lesser Antilles.

All of the ships of special interest approaching or loading in Cuban waters were under surveillance or being trailed by surface quarantine forces. The relaxation of activity had permitted an opportunity to relieve and replace force units.

At 1258R on 5 November a report was received that two of the BLUE MOON low-level reconnaissance flights were being pursued by two MIG 21's. Flight 16 reported that it was jumped eight miles west of Santa Clara. The tailman saw the two Soviet fighters closing and the BLUE MOON F8U's turned and rolled into the MIG's for a head-on approach. Then, the Navy planes hit their afterburners and exited six miles east of their point of entry. The two MIG's stayed with them for about five minutes. The high combat air patrol observed the action, but could not take action until after the incident was closed.

COMSECONDFLT in Newport News relieved COMCRUDESFLOT Six in Canberra as CTF 136 and Canberra proceeded to Norfolk, Va. Other routine reliefs of quarantine units continued.

CINCLANT assigned the Dominican Republic frigates Gregori (F-103) and Luferon (F-104) to operational control of CTF 137 (COMSOLANT). They were stationed in Mona Passage, one at a time on individual eight-day patrols.

The next day, 6 November, at 1008R, a U-2 high-level reconnaissance flight was terminated because the pilot detected surface-to-air radar guidance activity. Because of the danger of possible missile attacks on the high-level reconnaissance flights, heavier reliance was placed on the low-level sorties which could operate at altitudes low enough to render SAM defenses ineffective.

Admiral Anderson submitted an analysis of the establishment of a secret naval base in Cuba to the Secretary of Defense. The President had requested the information the day before in a memorandum to SECDEF, which read:

"We must operate on the presumption that the Russians may try again. This time they may prepare themselves for action on the sea in the Cuban area. Does Admiral Anderson think they could build up a secret naval base which will put them on a near parity with us if we should once again blockade? If he thinks there is substantial danger of this, what suggestions would he now make?"

CNO reported to SECDEF that there were several ways in which the Soviets could base naval forces in Cuba; however, he pointed out that by using means for internal intelligence, aerial and other surveillance, a warning would be supplied for all but the most austere naval support build-up. He reemphasized that his recommendation that submarines operated or supported from Cuban bases should be declared offensive weapons and placed on the list of prohibited materials. He detailed these views in the memorandum.

Meanwhile, the disassembling of the missile sites continued at a rapid pace. CINCLANT reported that the movement of Soviet personnel and equipment towards ports was proceeding hurriedly.

Reconnaissance flights continued and the Cuban air defense system was tracking our high-altitude flights. However, there were no incidents of defensive action or harassment.

One of the immediate tasks of the U. S. negotiators at the UN was to insure that the U. S. position covered all of the facets of the problem and that surveillance continued. Mr. Mc Cloy was pushing for the dismantling and removal of Soviet offensive weapons from Cuba at the earliest possible date. Concerning on-site inspection of the missile bases, the Soviets had agreed to that only after dismantling and removal. However, the Cubans would not agree to any on-site inspection. Also, neither the Soviets nor the Cubans would agree to the firm U. S. requirement that aerial reconnaissance flights had to continue.

The Soviet negotiators proposed that the Red Cross inspect incoming cargoes, and the U. S. accepted this as "suitable." Four Swedish ships were tentatively suggested to transport the Red Cross inspection teams, but the problem of paying the chartering costs had all but wrecked the proposal.

Kuznetzov suggested that as a compromise on the inspection issue, the Soviets would give the U. S. photographic evidence of the dismantling. He also said that if Cuba would not permit inspection of the missile withdrawal, the Soviet Union would supply a list of the ships which were to transport the missiles and shipping schedules, then allow the U.S. ships to come alongside outbound vessels to see and count the missiles. Kuznetzov stated that the USSR had a total of only 42 offensive missiles in Cuba. However, JCS estimates on October 30 placed the number of MRBM's at 48 and IRBM's at 24 or possibly 32.

The JCS invited Cuban contingency and quarantine commanders to a Washington meeting the next day to discuss the possibility of stand down in readiness posture and SECDEF's belief that CINCLANT Operations Plan 316 might be "too thin." November 15 was suggested as an approximate date for some degree of stand down. 

Wednesday, 7 November

The United States accepted the Soviet offer to inspect outbound missile-bearing ships and the Secretary of Defense notified the JCS of the procedures for conducting the at-sea inspection. The directive was sent to the quarantine force commander 1157R for immediate compliance.

The USSR provided the names of the nine vessels which were carrying out the missiles. The agreement was that the alongside inspections would begin at first light on the next day. Appropriate call signs were assigned to quarantine ships which were to affect the intercepts. The master of the Soviet ship and the commanding officer of the intercepting U. S. ship assigned were to work out their own arrangements for rendezvous at a convenient point along the track of the outbound vessel.

Photographic equipment and Russian language interpreters were placed aboard the intercepting ships. The Soviet Union had also agreed that helicopters could be used to photograph deck cargoes if seas and weather prohibited good shipboard photographic results.

Negotiations later brought further Russian agreement that outer covers would be removed partially from missile transporters in order to permit visual and photographic inspection.

Six of the nine ships designated for inspection by the USSR had already departed. They were:

Ship Time Location Course/Speed
F. Kurchatov 071700 20-05N, 73-20W 070/20
M. Anosov 070841 22-10N, 77W  
Labinsk 071814 24-00N, 80-24W /16
Polzunov 070816 23-12N, 82-24W 070/12
Bratsk 071015 23-20N, 82-40W  
Dvinogorsk 071500 23-00N, 70-40W 075/15

Meanwhile, the 5th MEB had completed its transit of the Panama Canal and was departing Colon. All forces involved in the transit had changed operational control to CINCLANT. CINCPACFLT offered his congratulations for the manner in which all officers and men responded to the movement operation.

Thursday, 8 November

During the morning, Mr. Gilpatric ordered that photographic confirmation of missiles and associated equipment being transported from Cuba be obtained in time for a Presidential announcement in the evening. The President wanted to say that the missiles were being removed and, if possible, that they had been counted aboard ships carrying them out. in view of this, all efforts were being directed towards the obtaining of firm fixes on the location of all outgoing ships and the positioning of a surface quarantine vessel with each. Patrol planes were being dispatched from Jacksonville and Guantanamo to locate and help photograph the deck cargoes.

Photographs of the DvinogorskAnosov, and Klirchatov already had been taken while these ships were either underway or loading in port. They showed four missiles on the first ship, eight on the second, and six on the third.

The Soviet ships were not complying with an agreement to sail a single transit route, and there was difficulty in finding all of them. At 1245R CINCLANTFLT reported that the Alapayevsk had been photographed by a VP-2- aircraft, and the pictures would be in Jacksonville by 1500R.

At 1414R, Rear Admiral Hogle at CINCLANTFLT reported that the Volgoles had been sighted by a P2V at - Her deck cargo was covered and the ship would not uncover after being asked by voice and flashing light to do so. Saufley was en route to intercept her, estimating the scene at 1700Q. The P2V was staying on top while the destroyer arrived. The pilot reported the Volgoles deck cargo as six vehicles forward and three aft, and two tube shapes forward and five aft, estimated size 8 x 6 x 55 feet.

Perry made first contact with Volgoles at 1530R and requested that she uncover the missiles, but the ship refused. Communication was made by voice on 500KC, flashing light, loud hailer, and placards.

The message sent was, "Show me your missiles, please. I must see them." The reply was, "I cannot show U.S."

All of the information surrounding the incident was forwarded to Admiral Wellborn at the United Nations, so the U. S. negotiators could protest this lack of cooperation to Kuznetzov at a 1700R meeting.

The decision was made that Perry and Vesole would trail the Volgoles through the night and try again in the morning to get the Russians to uncover the missiles. Admiral Anderson did not recommend forceful action to get the Volgoles or any other ship to uncover under the existing "ground rules."

Mr. Gilpatric directed that in the morning and in all other intercepts the message to intercepted ships would be: "Your government has agreed to uncover missiles. Please do so."

When it became obvious that the Russian ships were not going to follow the guidelines for rendezvousing with our patrol forces, Admiral Anderson passed the order to CINCLANT, "Don't wait -- go find them."

Also during the day, Mr. Gilpatric had initiated action to prepare a plan whereby newsmen could be flown out to photograph the inspection of one or more of the Russian ships during an intercept.

Since Soviet missile ships were making no attempt to pass through the designated geographic check points, CINCLANTFLT directed his forces to intercept, track and photograph all ships.

Alapayevsk, when hailed and photographed, reported no missiles aboard, only personnel and equipment.

Seven of the nine Soviet missile ships were sighted underway and departing Cuban waters. The remaining two (L. Komsomol and Polzunov) were expected to get underway shortly. Six of these ships were photographed during the day.

The following was the status of designated missile ships that were known to have departed Cuba:

Ship Time Location Course/Speed Photo
F. Kurchatov 081112 20-06N, 67-42W 075/18 Yes
M. Anosov 081030 23-55N, 70-03W 085/17 Yes
Labinsk 081405 21-30N, 75-42W 080/12 ----
Bratsk 082400 21-30N, 74-40W 060/12 Yes
Dvinogorsk 081356 25-11N, 63-15W DIW Yes
Volgoles 081255 23-17N, 81-45W 085/12 Yes
Alapayevsk 082400 23-20N, 73-40W 070/15 Yes

Friday, 9 November

At about 0700R, Blandy intercepted Dvinogorsk and asked her to roll back the coverings on the missiles. The Soviet vessel complied. Blandy reported that there was a large cylindrical object beneath, encased in a water-tight seal.

Early in the morning, photographs of missile-bearing ships began arriving at the Pentagon via helicopter.

At 0800R Newport News and Leary intercepted the Labinsk. Newport News went alongside and hailed the Soviet vessel on 500KC. "How many missiles on board?" The reply was, "All on deck. See for yourself."

In response to a request to uncover the missiles, the canvas was rolled back on one. The same cylindrical shape was observed as was by Blandy on the DvinogorskNewport News reported this one as being mounted on a wheeled vehicle.

After Vesole hailed Volgoles at first light, the formerly reluctant ship complied with a request to roll back the canvas covering a missile.

Our intercepting ships were wondering what they should do about the inner-seal problem. Mr. Gilpatric said not to request that it be broken.

A plan was finally devised where five newsmen left in each of two P3V's from NAS, Patuxent River. One was to overfly Komsomol and the other one Anosov. However, Admiral Griffin and CINCLANTFLT were more inclined to favor a slower plan whereby an intercept would have been staged on the next day with one of the remaining unchallenged Soviet ships. In either event, time was running out on the possibility of being able to catch a ship before they were all inspected.

During a special 1330R meeting at the UN a protest was received from the Russians that force was used against Dvinogorsk; that Alexandrovsk, which was not a missile-carrying ship, had been stopped; and that Volgoles was stopped twice. A request for confirmation of these alleged incidents was passed to CINCLANT. Mr. McCloy called Mr. Gilpatric on the matter, and the Deputy Secretary of Defense said the incidents would be investigated and we would apologize only if such were warranted. Mr. Gilpatric then directed his naval aide, Captain Houser, to look into the matter and commented, "Let's make sure the Navy doesn't put us in that spot again.'

Search by two DD's and aircraft was continuing for KurchatovAnosov and Polzunov were being trailed by DD's with air and surface inspection scheduled for first light 10 November.

Individual details on missile-carrying ships during the day were (times Romeo):


090300 Leary and Newport News assigned to intercept.
090615 Intercept made.
090730 Outer covers on missiles removed.
090748 Request to remove inner cover ignored.
090854 Deck cargo reported by Newport News as 2 missiles without nose cones. Outer cover removed for 1/3 of length from after end.
091100 090836 posit 22-55N, 72-31W reported by CTG 136.2 Photos obtained
091113 Leary trailing.
091134 Leary discontinued trail. Labinsk proceeding.
091155 Posit at 090818 22-18N, 71-57N on course 095, speed 15.


090300 R. A. Owens assigned to intercept.
090700 Expect intercept at 090730.
090735 Owens intercepted.
090736 Wasp helo overhead posit 22-55N, 72-31W. Deck cargo 2 mobile cranes, 2 canvas covered trucks, 2 vans, and 2 missile shaped objects. Outer covers on missile shapes removed.
091113 Basilone trailing. Owens relieved by Basilone at 1130.
092212 Basilone ordered to discontinue trail.


90735 Komsomol departed Casilda. Norfolk closing to photo.
91022 Norfolk reports Master initially cooperative but will only uncover nose and tail of one out of 8 missiles.
091034 Instructed Komsomol to proceed CHECK POINT south of GTMO.
091052 Posit 21-24N, 78-48W, course 153, speed 18.
091140 Photography completed.
091215 Dahlgren joining .Norfolk.
091245 P2V overhead.
091320 Master informed Norfolk he was requesting further instructions from his Government before removal of covers; complying with request to proceed to CHECK POINT.
091350 Deck cargo includes 8 missiles less nose cones and 7 trucks.
091505 Master continues to report no authority to uncover missiles. Posit 20-31N, 78-50W.
091623 Covers now being removed from missiles, closed to 400 yards for photos.
091652 Canvas covers removed from missiles but weather seals left in place. Photo coverage obtained. --Norfolk returned to trailing station, posit 20-15N, 78-27W, course 128, speed 18.


082100 Best posit 21-15N, 64-30W, course 075, speed 18.
090300 Biddle assigned to intercept.
090700 Biddle in tail chase.
090950 PATRON 44 to launch one P3V to locate and photo.
091040 Best posit 23-30N, 60-30W, estimated course 071, speed 20. Blandy directed to search for Kurchatov.
091059 P2V assisting in search.
091113 Biddle continues search.
092400 BiddleBlandy and air search continues for Kurchatov


090855 Barry reports intercept time of about 091700.
091011 CTG 81.5 reported sighting of 090919 at 25-30N, 60-13W, course 090, speed 15.
091059 P2V assisting in search.
091210 Best posit 25-30N, 63-13W.
091420 Sighted by aircraft at 25-44N, 61-51W. Estimate Barry will arrive 30 minutes before dusk. Also 2 P2V with newsmen aboard at arrive at about the same time.
091530 Communications established between Anosov and Barry.
091920 Barry intercepted at 091800 posit 25-45N, 61-05W. Intends to trail all night close first light for photos. P3V will be on scene first light for photos.


082030 Posit 25-00N, 63-15W, dead in the water.
090300 TG 83.3 assigned to intercept.
090656 COMDESRON 24 in Blandy reported cover removed from first missile, however inner cover not removed. Probably 4 missiles. Posit 25-29.5N, 60-11.1W, course 075, speed 15.
090718 Outer covers removed from other missiles.
090752 COMDESRON 24 reports missiles resemble modified T11.
090855 COMDESRON 24 reports intercept, photography, and visual observations completed.
091040 Blandy discontinued trailing.


082100 Vesole directed to reattempt to have covers removed from missiles during early day light 9 November.
090630 Asked that covers be removed from missiles.
090724 Outer cover removed from one missile.
090822 Removing outer covers from missiles, 3 missiles viewed with outer covers removed.
090924 COMDESRON 6 in Vesole reports 7 missile shapes sighted. Thanked Master for his cooperation. Continuing trail.
091055 VESOLE directed by CINCLANT to continue trail.
091146 Vesole discontinues trail. Volgoles proceeding.


090300 Steinaker assigned to intercept.
090700 Intercept expected about 091859.
091059 P2V assisting in search.
091113 Steinaker proceeding to intercept.
091316 Steinaker directed to commence calling Polzunov on radio.
092400 CINCLANTFLT reports Polzunov underway. Rhodes trailing. Vesole expected to join about 0400, with interpreter on board. Aircraft scheduled overhead at first light. ---- Karl Marx appears to be in company with Polzunov.


081420 Posit 22-20N, 71-55W, photos obtained. 180-200 men on deck, no missile shapes sighted. Master stated to Holder, "Have rocket technician in accordance with agreement between Governments of USSR and USA."
081545 Helo flight from Wasp with Chief of Staff, COMCARDIV 14 aboard. Exchanged tie clasp and bottle of vodka. Three of five cargo hatches open. Cots, blankets and about 50 boxes under open hatches sighted. Four fuel trucks, five stake trucks, one dump truck, two earth movers sighted on deck.
091113 Holder continues trail.
092212 Holder ordered to discontinue trail.

Saturday, 10 November

Vice Admiral Beakley's personally drafted message replying to the Soviet protest of the preceding afternoon was approved by Mr. Gilpatric and forwarded to Mr. McCloy at the UN. The reply stated that the quarantine forces were not ordered to carry out the actions against the Dvinogorsk and Alexandrovskand that these incidents could not be confirmed. As far as the Volgoles was concerned, Vice Admiral Beakley pointed out that the second intercept was effected because on the first the ship had refused to remove covers from the missile transporters.

There was a great deal of pressure from the White House to complete the missile count so that the President could make an announcement that the operation had been completed. However, one ship -- the Kurchatov -- eluded surveillance.

In order that the UN negotiators might be informed on happenings involving the ship intercepts and inspections, all communications were ordered relayed immediately from the CNO Communications Center to Admiral Wellborn through the Commander Eastern Sea Frontier communications stations.

Details on the sightings and inspection of ships of interest during the day were:

Karl Marx (Not on UN Inspection List)

100104 Karl Marx underway with Polzunov 5 miles astern. Rhodes is in between. Vesole should join about 0400.
100728 Close observation previously directed held in abeyance to permit coordination with news media.
101050 Rhodes directed to close and photograph, aerial photography as directed by CTG 81.6. When completed cease trailing.


101700 Posit 27-08N, 64-27W, course 060, speed 15. CTG 83.3 directed to search for, locate and shadow Bratsk, closing Essex to within helo range. MK3 neutron detector being flown direct Bermuda then COD to Essex. On receipt Essex to conduct helo flights on Bratsk and to report results soonest.

L. Komsomol

100400 Posit: 37-05N, 75-01W, course 072.
101326 CINCLANT directed cease trailing.
101928 CTF 136 directed to reintercept and inspect with MK3 neutron detector. CTF 81 directed to search and locate once in AM and once in PM until CTF 136 task completed.


101324 Aircraft report sighting at 101050 at posit 26-25N, 53-37W, course 060, speed 15. Blandy directed to close, photo, and conduct visual inspection.
101726 Blandy posit 27-17N, 51-48W, course 078, speed 22. Still does not hold.


100430 Posit 26-50N, 55-51W.
100627 One aircraft overhead, second aircraft expected in 5 minutes.
100642 Barry alongside to starboard. Observed two long shapes and one long curved shape. Requested covers be removed, complied, approximately 200 personnel, including women, on deck.
100755 Missiles not completely uncovered, Barry reports 8 missiles sighted.
100811 Aircraft departed.
100844 Refused to change course to reduce effect of seas.
100941 Barry directed rejoin COMCARDIV 18 (Essex Group) when completed.
101053 Barry completed. Departed. Posit 26-52N, 55-39W, course 325, speed 17.


100104 Polzunov underway 5 miles astern of Karl Marx with Rhodes in between. Vesole to join about 0400.
100142 Posit 23-28N, 81-17W, course 080, speed 12.
100728 Close observation delayed to permit coordination with news media.
101232 Posit: 22-58N, 79-01W, course 115, speed 15, Vesole in company. Aerial photography conducted.
101352 Vesole makes approach in coordination with aircraft.
101400 Removing covers as requested.
101404 Vesole alongside.
101414 Vesole completes inspection, five missiles sighted.
101424 Vesole directed to discontinue trail.
101518 News media in participating aircraft express satisfaction with coverage.
101928 CINCLANT directs CTF 136 to intercept and inspect with MK3 neutron detector. CTF 81 to search and locate once in AM and once in PM until CTE 136 task completed.

Newport News helicopter using a MK3 neutron detector over the Bratsk reported that the instrument showed active reactions but that the results were not conclusive. Therefore, the WaspGroup was directed to conduct a second flight using the detector over the Bratsk and obtain more conclusive data. Similar operations were directed by CTF 136 for Polzunov and L. Komsomol.

A summary of inspection results at the end of the day indicated the following:

Ship Inspected Photo No. of Missiles
Labinsk Yes Yes 2
Bratsk Yes Yes 2
L. Komsomol Yes Yes 8
Kurchatov No Yes 6 (probable)
Anosov Yes Yes 8
Dvinogorsk Yes Yes 4
Volgoles Yes Yes 7
Polzunov Yes Yes 5
Alapayevsk Yes Yes 0
    Total 42

The search for Kurchatov was being continued by Blandy and aircraft.

Sunday, 11 November

With the interception of Kurchatov by Blandy, all ships reported by the Soviets as having missiles aboard had been inspected. A total of 42 missiles were visually sighted and photographed.

A re-Inspection of Bratsk and Polzunov with the Naval Research Laboratory neutron sensing device produced negative results, and the remaining re-inspection schedule was canceled.

The BLUE MOON low-level Cuba reconnaissance flights for the day returned without incident. On previous and succeeding days, these flights were alternately flown by Navy and Air Force aircraft. In addition, high-altitude BRASS KNOB U-2 photographic missions also were made. Although these reconnaissance flights were scheduled for each day, the missions were frequently canceled or their sorties reduced.

Monday, 12 November

At a special Executive Committee meeting in the morning, which was attended by the UN Cuban negotiating team, there was a lengthy discussion concerning the removal of the Soviet IL-28 bombers. On the previous Saturday, Deputy Secretary of State Ball had recommended a strong stand on the issue; concurred in by Assistant Secretary of Defense Nitze.

Mr. McCloy was optimistic in that he believed the Russians could regain ownership of the aircraft, even though they legally belonged to the Cubans. He also said the Soviet negotiators were pushing hard for a lifting of the quarantine and a formal pledge that the U.S. would not invade Cuba.

Before the meeting adjourned, the Executive Committee adopted Secretary of State Rusk's position that when the IL-28's were on the way out of Cuba the negotiators would discuss the possibility of lifting the quarantine, and, when an acceptable arrangement was reached for inspecting ships carrying materials to Cuba, the U. S. would consider a guarantee against invasion.

As far as operational matters during the day were concerned, submarine activity in the quarantine area was continuing at a reduced rate. Only one positive contact was being prosecuted; all others had remained "cold" for more than 72 hours.

Three new ships were designated for intercept and trail -- the East German freighter Theodor Korner and the Russian freighters Atkarsk and Okhotsk.

During the day, the Argentia submarine/air antisubmarine barrier was disestablished.

At 1525R, CINCLANT reported that the master of [deleted] freighter [deleted] requested that the destroyer Perry send an intelligence officer to his ship. The commanding officer of Perry replied that he could not comply unless he received a request for a boarding party. The freighter's master then officially requested the boarding party, which was dispatched and headed by the Perry's commanding officer.

After departing the freighter, the commanding officer was flown to Key West for a debriefing. He said the [deleted] master had offered his services [deleted] collecting any information which the U.S. might want.

While Perry was in the vicinity of Trajan, two MIG's buzzed the ships at an altitude of about 300 feet and then headed for Cuba.

CINCLANT informed the duty CNO (VADM Sharp) of his instructions as to hailing and intercepting ships, namely, that he was designating ships for intercept which, according to information available to him, had suspicious cargoes. A quarantine force ship then was named to close the suspicious ship and hail her, requesting the port of departure, destination, and type of cargo. He pointed out that all ships of the force were exchanging calls with any other vessel they encountered, but were not going out of their way to intercept a ship unless directed to do so by CINCLANT.

Admiral Dennison also told Vice Admiral Sharp that he was sending out a message to CTF 136 notifying him that there was great interest in Washington on the details of contacts with ships inbound for and outbound from Cuba. He had instructed CTF 136 to insure that incident reports included the methods of communicating and the exact text of the exchanges.

Tuesday, 13 November

The quarantine line was still intact, but only trailing actions were being pursued. CTF 137 had five ships on the southern line, and all forces remained alert for any eventuality.

Admiral Anderson told his Fleet Commanders that they could look with pride on the outstanding manner in which the Navy and Marine Corps forces reacted to carry out the actions necessary to implement quarantine directives and the thoroughly professional performances of our units in preparing for other contingencies.

"I am certain that we have benefitted from the actions of the past several weeks. Our forces were exercised, our control systems were checked, our command arrangements were tested and the decision-making process back here was given a rigorous work out and proved itself throughout the operation."

In view of the fact that negotiations were reaching a stage where the policy makers would have to consider lifting the blockade, Admiral Anderson communicated his philosophy on the matter to the JCS and the Secretary of Defense.

His summary and views were that the quarantine was imposed to stop the importation of offensive weapons into Cuba and this quarantine had not subsequently been lifted. However, ships on station had been directed to hail ships bound for Cuba, but not to board them. Because of this declaration, 16 Bloc ships had reversed course and returned to the Soviet Union and no ships with suspicious cargoes had attempted to pass the quarantine line.

There were one East German and sixteen Soviet cargo ships en route to Cuba, which could be carrying suspicious cargo below decks. Two of the Soviet ships, the Okhotsk and the Orenburg, had 72-foot hatches, capable of carrying missiles.

If the quarantine was to remain effective with the object of insuring that offensive weapons were not imported into Cuba, the admiral recommended the visit and search of Bloc and Free World ships which could be carrying offensive weapons. This particularly applied to the Soviet ships with large hatches.

In view of the lapse of time since a Bloc had transited the quarantine line, CNO felt it should be made known that the U.S. still intended to enforce The quarantine by search when necessary.

The admiral recommended that quarantine forces then board a Free World non-Bloc-chartered ship en route to Cuba, if time permitted, followed by the interdiction and search of a Bloc ship.

The next step should be to visit and search each of the Soviet cargo ships as they arrived at the quarantine line.

The decision was reached to lift the quarantine and terminate the October 23 proclamation if the USSR agreed to remove the IL-28's. However, aerial reconnaissance and surveillance was to continue, and the U.S. was to withhold a declaration of assurances against an invasion of Cuba until agreement was reached for suitable safeguards to halt the further introduction of offensive weapons.

If the Soviets refused to remove the bombers, the United States was to continue the limited quarantine by intercepting and boarding all ships en route to Cuba according to CNO's plan. The interdiction would be carried out in an escalating manner. The first ships to be stopped would be ones of a Free World, non-Bloc nation under charter, next a Bloc ship, and, finally, a Soviet ship. At 0858R, CINCLANT was advised of the possibility that the quarantine might be re-instituted and was told to provide the names and times of the first intercepts in each category.

The President and Secretary of Defense were concerned about the ability of surface patrol units to use force without sinking a ship or inflicting casualties. This concern was a great deterrent to granting permission to forcibly stop a ship and one cause for the Executive Committee's decision throughout the quarantine to avoid direct confrontation with a Soviet vessel. Admiral Anderson informed SECDEF of the procedures which would be followed should it be necessary to use force.

The action would be carried out at short range using 3- or 5-inch guns. Nonexplosive shells would be used for destruction of the rudder and propeller. The following sequence of events would be followed if the ship failed to stop after hailing: First, a powder charge would be fired with no projectile in the breach; next, a shot would be sent across the bow of the reluctant ship, and finally, the ship's stern would be fired on.

The admiral noted that it would be highly unlikely that any captain of a merchant ship would attempt to proceed after having received a shot across his bow and a deliberate near miss in the vicinity of his propeller.


Published: Thu Apr 02 07:38:24 EDT 2015