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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.

  • Cuban Missile Crisis
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  • Primary Source Document
  • Historical Summary
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The Naval Quarantine of Cuba, 1962

[Note on time zone references: Three zones are referenced in the following text by the time zone letters: "Q," "R," and "Z." "R" is also noted as "Romeo," the full phonetic designation. There is no detailed explanation in the original document of exact usage; however there are indications that the "R" and "Q" designations are Eastern Standard Time (+5) and Eastern Daylight Time (+4) designators respectively. "Z," or Zulu, is Greenwich Mean Time or GMT (0), typically used by reporting units at sea and message date time groups. Times referencing events in Washington before the week-end of 27/28 October are referenced as "Q." Times after that week-end are noted as "R." This pattern is consistent in the text with a few unexplained exceptions (meeting with Congressional leaders). Times for ship intercepts are in the DDHHMM of the DTG format.]


During the month of September, a buildup of Soviet offensive military posture in Cuba was evident through the analysis of intelligence reports and the increase in sea transport from Soviet Bloc ports. From January through July, an average of 14 Soviet dry-cargo ships per month had called at Cuban ports. In August, this figure more than doubled; in September it was 46. Soviet tankers were docking at a rate of 10 per month. In addition to ships of USSR registry, 29 Soviet satellite dry-cargo transports and four tankers entered Cuban ports during the first nine months of 1962. Including those Bloc vessels discharging Cuban cargo in October, the total number of Russian and Soviet Bloc ships was 379 -- 85 more than the total 1961 figure, even with 2 months until the end of the year. Significantly, the traffic during August, September, and October accounted mainly for the difference in the two annual figures. On October 23, there were 23 Soviet and satellite ships en route to Cuba, 16 of them dry-cargo. In addition, six others were believed to include Cuba on their itineraries.

Early intelligence reports of offensive preparedness were scattered and usually incomplete. Activity was carried out with some degree of successful secrecy under the guise of improving defensive capability. However, with the introduction of more sophisticated weapons systems of medium and intermediate range, the activity could no longer remain covert.

Reports of the arrival of large numbers of Soviet technicians and military personnel, the construction of larger launch complexes, and the extension of airstrips to accommodate high-performance aircraft pointed unmistakably to the rapid development of Cuba into a Soviet base for offensive action against the United States. Descriptions of suspicious cargoes aboard Cuba-bound ships, obtained from sources at ports of loading and unloading and from aerial photographs taken by Navy reconnaissance aircraft, together with information on vehicle and rail convoys gathered from Cuban informants, strongly indicated the preparation of missile sites of other than the surface-to-air variety Which had been under surveillance for some time.

On September 1, Commander, Naval Base Guantanamo received reliable information that Russian, Czech, Chinese, and Polish troops had been disembarked at Mariel, Cabanas and Bahio Honda in Pinar del Rio province and also at Havana, Matanzas, and Casilda. Some of these foreign troops had taken charge of all coastal artillery from Santa Fe to Esperanza and from San Galletano to Cabanas. Their numbers were estimated as "Several thousand." "Several thousand" troops also were reported to have debarked from ships at Matanzas and 1,100 more at Casilda. Cuban families were reported evacuated from an area southeast of Banes, where construction of a naval base had begun.

This same COMNAVBASE report said information had been received that on August 25 cargo unloaded from three Bloc ships at Nicaro Consisted of boxes the length of lowboy trailers and cement blocks about 8 by 4 by 1 feet in size.

Another Guantanamo intelligence report on September 5 reported heavy off-loading of military equipment from several ships under rigid security measures. An informant also said he had seen two Soviet submarines in the Bahia de Nipe area during the week of 27-31 August. There were indications of considerable activity in Bahia de Nipe area, including unloading of equipment, personnel, and munitions.

Much of this intelligence information correlated with the conclusions established over a month later that medium and intermediate range ballistic missile sites were under construction at various locations. As early as September 17, a Central Intelligence Agency report established that a previously identified surface-to-air site at Banes very near Bahia de Nipe was considered to be a surface-to-surface launch complex.

During August and September, the harassment of U.S. reconnaissance and patrol forces became more belligerent. On August 30 an unarmed S2F was fired upon by a Cuban patrol vessel over international waters 12 miles north of the island. This craft, in company with a second, maneuvered radically to bring manned guns to bear and then fired when the plane was within a range of 700 yards.

On September 8, two Key West S2F aircraft on another routine patrol flight were overtaken by a Soviet MIG-17 which made simulated gunnery firing runs on both U. S. planes. The incident took place 45 miles southwest of Key West and within the Air Defense Identification Zone. The intruder was acquired by Key West ground-controlled intercept radar as he closed on the patrol flight, and two F4D's were scrambled to provide fighter cover for the S2F's. A few minutes after the MIG-17 completed the harassment and disappeared, the Key West radar acquired a second target which quickly changed course and faded to the south. Photographs of the first intruder rendered positive identification.

These serious occurrences helped prompt a decision to increase the defensive capability (On September 19 CINCLANTFLT deployed a detachment of six F8U aircraft to Key West for the operational control of COMKWESTFOR.) of Naval Air Station, Key West. This was especially desirable since our surveillance and reconnaissance efforts had increased substantially in the Caribbean area because of the heavier frequency of ships transporting cargo to Cuba.

On October 1 the forces of Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, were engaged in routine training and upkeep evolutions throughout the Western Atlantic and Caribbean areas. Commander Second Fleet, embarked in Newport News (CA-148) was at sea off Nova Scotia. The antisubmarine carriers Wasp (CVS-18), Essex (CVS-9), and Lake Champlain (CVS-39) were in the Boston/Newport area. Intrepid (CVS-11) was at sea off New York, and Randolph (CVS-15) was in Norfolk. Cruisers and destroyers were engaged in local operations stretching from Newport to Guantanamo.

In the Caribbean, the guided missile cruiser Canberra (CAG-2), six destroyers, and one amphibious ship were in Guantanamo. The ASW carrier Shangri-La (CVS-38) and seven destroyers were in Mayport, Florida.

Routine air patrols were being conducted and training was being carried out at Key West, Roosevelt Roads, P.R., and Guantanamo.

A regularly scheduled exchange of the Sixth Fleet Marine battalion landing team in the Mediterranean was in progress.

Advance Preparatory Action

Although military contingency considerations toward Cuba had their genesis long before, on October 1 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to discuss the circumstances under which military action against Cuba might be necessary and toward which our military planning should be oriented. The following day, the Secretary sent a memorandum to the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggesting six contingencies; among them were (a) evidence that the Castro regime has permitted the positioning of Bloc offensive weapon systems on Cuban soil or in Cuban harbors and (b) a decision by the President that affairs in Cuba have reached a point inconsistent with continuing national security."

The memorandum requested contingency preparatory actions and an evaluation of the consequences of such actions. The political objectives of the contingencies were defined as the removal of the threat of Soviet weapon systems and, if necessary, the removal of the Castro regime to assure the permanent dislocation of these weapons.

Obviously, the first of these contingencies existed and certainly would prompt the U. S. President Kennedy to invoke the second. Additionally, other contingencies were met. To a degree, "an attack against U. S. planes or vessels outside Cuban territorial air space or waters" already had occurred, and there was evidence that Cuban ships had been covertly transporting arms to other Latin American Coasts, partially satisfying "Cuban armed assistance to subversion in other parts of the Western Hemisphere." Accordingly, actions were begun on October 3 to prepare for military action against Cuba.

All preparations prior to imposition of the "naval quarantine" and the decision to implement this action were directed toward the execution of Commander in Chief, Atlantic's (CINCLANT) Operations Plan 312-62, followed by Plans 314-61 or 316-61. The first of these plans involved the air strike against selective Cuban targets. Plan 314-61 was an airborne and amphibious assault of Cuba from a position of peak readiness. Plan 316-61 prescribed the execution of a similar invasion, but with a lesser degree of preparedness.

It was absolutely essential that these preparations be carried out with strict secrecy. In many cases, instructions and queries went out for the eyes only of those cognizant commanders at the highest echelon of command. In almost all cases, messages and memoranda were classified "Top Secret, Exclusive." Great care had to be taken to prevent disclosure of the scope of preparations and to avoid the impression that the United States was building to a point of military readiness for Cuban operations. Such an impression might have triggered a reaction by Russia to pre-empt initiative. Although the general appraisal was that Soviet Premier Khrushchev would not ignite a general war over U. S. action in Cuba, he might have been so inclined if aware of unusual preparedness without clear reason.

Wednesday, 3 October

On October 3, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT), ordered increased surveillance of Cuban shipping in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf approaches. Commander Antisubmarine Warfare Force (COMASWFORLANT) was directed to augment the Caribbean and Key West aerial patrol effort with additional forces as required and to conduct ocean surveillance to detect and photograph all shipping in and out of Cuba. In order to reduce to a minimum the length of time between processing and receipt of aerial reconnaissance photographs for interpretation, Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic (COMNAVAIRLANT) provided jet courier service to Norfolk and Washington, D.C., for delivery to CINCLANTFLT and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).

Also on the 3rd, CINCLANTFLT took initial steps to prepare his forces for a possible blockade of Cuba and directed his subordinate commands to prepare for the formation of a blockade force. CINCLANT ordered that the units be assigned to Commander Joint Task Force 122, the blockade commander, when directed. According to CINCLANTFLT OpOrder 41-62, the forces to be readied included a blockade group, covering group, logistics group, and anti-submarine-warfare group. This blockade was part of OpPlans 314 and 316 and not independent of other action. Although this Operation Order was not the one followed when the quarantine began, advance planning for its execution 20 days before had expedited greatly the implementation of the quarantine, since the composition of forces in both cases was essentially the same.

Saturday, 6 October

On October 6, the Commander in Chief Atlantic directed development of the highest state of readiness to execute Operations Plans 312-62, 314-61, and 316-61. The basic objectives of these plans were the removal of the Castro regime, the securing on the island of a new regime responsive to Cuban national interests, and the prepositioning and pre-invasion actions necessary.Consideration of matters related to relocation and prepositioning of troops, aircraft, ships, and equipment and supplies was requested of the Commanding General, 18th Airborne Corps, CINCLANTFLT, and Commander, Tactical Air Command.Each of these commands would shiftoperational control of certain of their units and forces to CINCLANT under the provisions of the contingency plans being for possible execution.

Sunday, 7 October

On the 7th, CINCLANT recommended the establishment of a Military Emergency Zone to control air traffic in the Southern Florida area. With the implementation of any one of the plans under consideration, such a restricted area would be necessary to control nonmilitary traffic and insure the success of large-scale air attacks and airborne assaults. Although basically devoted to offensive contingency, MEZ planning called for coordination with Commander in Chief, Continental Air Defense Command (CINCONAD), so as not to interfere with CINCONAD responsibilities. The MEZ later was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ordered established in the event operations plans requiring it were executed. 

Monday, 8 October

On October 8, the Joint Chiefs sent the Secretary of Defense's (SECDEF) Cuban contingency memorandum to the Unified Commanders, requesting their comments and recommendations. CINCLANT responded immediately with the recommendation that his operations plans for the invasion of Cuba and the removal of the Castro regime be implemented. This reaction was in consonance with the JCS consensus. CINCLANT also recommended preparatory actions to begin at once and progressively in the future to improve readiness to execute these plans. Since CINCLANT had been present at the October 1 meeting of the JCS with SECDEF and because of the reciprocity regarding Cuban military actions, the Atlantic commander's stand was one requisite to this prior unanimity.

Among those preparations recommended by CINCLANT were the transfer of one-third of a Marine division-air wing team from the Pacific to the Atlantic command, prepositioning of forces and heavy equipment without derogating training or readiness for other critical missions, and the transfer of tactical and reconnaissance air squadrons to southern Florida. Of first priority was the prepositioning of forces at and reinforcement of Guantanamo. Many of these recommendations were approved early by the JCS and some actually were already in process of accomplishment.

To mask widespread preparations for the actions proposed, CINCLANT suggested announcement that forces were preparing for an exercise entitled "Quick Kick" amphibious brigade assault landing exercise. By doing, it would be possible to carry out operations of increasing scope without revealing actual prepositioning purposes. Therefore, PHIBRIGLEX 62 was scheduled for the period October 15-20. This exercise previously was set for November in the yearly exercise schedule.

On the 8th, CINCLANT suggested that supplies be prepositioned on Mayaguana Island in accordance with a previously arranged agreement with the British. This was to be accomplished under the cover of improvement of the Atlantic Missile Range tracking station. However, because of the chance of compromise, the concealment later was changed to classified oceanographic research.

In CINCLANT's reply to JCS's requested review of contingency plans regarding Cuba with a view towards reinforcing Guantanamo and reducing the reaction time of existing plans, one of the specific recommendations was that the Fifth Marine Expeditionary Brigade (5th MEB) associated amphibious lift be assigned from the Pacific to the Atlantic Command and that an amphibious squadron and battalion landing team be withdrawn from Sixth Fleet deployment. U. S. Commander in Chief, Europe, (USCINCEUR), despite JCS's recommendation of serious consideration, did not concur in the withdrawal proposed on grounds that it would seriously affect the deterrent capability of forces in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, CINCPAC advised that assignment of the 5th MEB was feasible but not without reducing capability to handle Southeast Asian contingencies.

Also on the 8th, an F4H squadron (VF-41) was deployed to Naval Air Station, Key West, to further reinforce air defenses in the southern Florida area. The squadron further augmented the detachment of F8U2N's which had been assigned to the station on 19 September.

Wednesday, 10 October

In noting the intelligence reports of a build-up of sophisticated aircraft revetments and surface-to-air missile sites, CINCLANTFLT ordered training to include the possibility of action against Cuban targets in the face of increased automatic anti-aircraft capability. Plans also were amended to strike and destroy these sites when such action was ordered. Training efforts went so far as to include the construction of a simulated Soviet SA-2 SAM site to improve strike tactics against this type of target. 

Friday, 12 October

At 0400Q October 12, a meeting was held in the JCS Operations Directorate of operations and logistics planners from CINCLANT, Commander in Chief, Strike Force (CINCSTRIKE), Chief of Staff, Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Staff, Air Force, and Commandant, Marine Corps. The purpose of the meeting was to develop a reply to SECDEF's Cuban contingency memorandum and to reduce lead time for executing CINCLANT Operations Plan 314-61 by increasing readiness posture.

Sunday, 14 October

U-2 reconnaissance photographs of Cuba positively identified three medium-range ballistic missile sites at San Cristobal. This was the first photographic intelligence of the area since August 29, at which time there was no evidence of any such development. 

Monday, 15 October

More U-2 photographs taken the day before were developed and analyzed. They further confirmed the existence of strategic missiles and sites in Cuba. Two additional U-2 flights made during the day not only reconfirmed the San Cristobal sites, but also showed two intermediate-range ballistic-missile sites under construction at Guanajay, where there had been no deployment activity on August 29.

Between 2000-2200Q, this information was relayed to the Secretary of Defense; Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric; Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Joseph Carroll; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) General Maxwell D. Taylor; Secretary of State Dean Rusk; Under Secretary of State George Ball; Deputy Under Secretary of State U. Alexis Johnson; Presidential Special Assistant McGeorge Bundy; Central Intelligence Agency Director John McCone and his deputy, Ray Cline; and Assistant Secretary of State Edwin Martin.

Atlantic Fleet forces already were at a high peak of readiness because of a heavy schedule of training operations which were underway.

Amphibious Training Landing Exercise (PHIBTRALEX) 3-62 in the Vieques area, scheduled for August 27 through November 2, was in progress and involved Amphibious Squadron 8 with the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Marines embarked.

UNITAS III, the third annual ASW training exercise with several South American countries, was underway, having begun August 17. It was to end December 10.

PHIBRIGLEX 62, ostensibly an amphibious exercise to train and exercise naval forces to conduct an amphibious assault and associated naval operations from Onslow Beach, North Carolina, to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean was just beginning. This exercise which was to be aborted as a cover for Cuban contingency operations involved the following principal forces:

Independence (CVA-62)
Randolph (CVS-15)
Okinawa (LPH-3)
Thetis Bay (LPH-6)
15 destroyers
14 amphibious ships
3 submarines
4 mobile support ships
1 Marine Regimental Landing Team
1 Marine Air Group

Operation SWEEP CLEAR II, a Joint Canadian - U.S. mine sweeping exercise, was underway off Nova Scotia. 

Tuesday, 16 October

The Joint Chiefs of Staff were ordered to emergency session at 1100Q on October 16. Admiral Anderson was recalled after a National War College/Industrial College of the Armed Forces lecture and General Curtis LeMay, Air Force Chief of Staff, was recalled from Europe. At this meeting came the first firm revelation that military action would be taken relative to the Soviet offensive build-up in Cuba.

At 0900Q, the President received photographic evidence of the Cuban offensive missile sites from Mr. Bundy. Three hours later, he convened a meeting at the White House with the Vice-President, Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, the Attorney General, General Taylor, Deputy SECDEF Gilpatric, Deputy SECSTATE George Ball, Asst. SECSTATE Edwin Martin, Mr. Bundy, Presidential Assistant Ted Sorensen, Douglas Dillon, Charles Bohlen, and Kenneth O'Donnell. The outcome of the meeting was that reconnaissance of Cuba should be increased greatly. Six U-2 flights were scheduled for the next day.

Conferences that afternoon at the State Department included Messrs. Rusk, Ball, Martin, Alexis Johnson, Ambassadors Bohlen, Thompson, and Stevenson. At 1830Q there was another White House meeting at which a Guided Missile and Astronautic Intelligence Committee evaluation of U-2 missions and photographs taken on October 14 and 15 were considered.

Wednesday, 17 October

On the 17th, the Joint Chiefs notified CINCONAD to take action without delay for the augmentation of air defenses of the Southeast U.S., and CINCLANT alerted shore-based Navy and Marine Corps fighter squadrons in the area to assist CONAD forces. The Chief of Naval Operations sent a personal message to the Fleet Commanders advising them to be prepared to order as many ships as possible to sea on a 24-hour notice, provided their main propulsion plants were ready.

Project "BLUE MOON" a CINCLANTFLT operations order to obtain low-level photographic reconnaissance of Cuban military buildup areas, became operational at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla., utilizing F8U-1P aircraft.

During the day, there were several meetings of the executive policy group in Under Secretary of State Ball's conference room. All those at Tuesday's White House meetings except the President and the Vice President were there, with the addition of Dean Acheson, John McCone and Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson. They evaluated the evidence and discussed possible responses.

The reconnaissance flights ordered Tuesday took place. The read-out of aerial photographs produced more evidence of launching pads and signs of mobile launchers with missiles.

Thursday, 18 October

The next day (October 18) evaluation by GMAIC and other intelligence groups (The Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee and the Nation Photographic Interpretation Center) of the October 14 and 15 U-2 photographs, plus preliminary assessment of photos taken on the 17th, confirmed the previous findings and, in addition, identified medium-range ballistic-missile sites 1 and 2 at Saguna la Grande for the first time. These photographs were the ones later referred to by the President as the first "hard evidence" of Soviet offensive missile sites in Cuba.

Meanwhile, the prepositioning of forces to reduce reaction time in the event of action against Cuba continued. A reinforced infantry battalion from the Pacific Command's 5th MED was ordered transferred to the operational control of CINCLANT and a light antiaircraft-missile battalion (Hawk) was ordered to Guantanamo to augment forces there.

Throughout the day, there were several high-level policy meetings at the White House and the State Department. These meetings were attended by representatives of the White House and State and Defense Departments as well as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (NSC). During a White House meeting which convened at 2100Q a final consensus began to develop.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gilpatric requested the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to advise on the supplying of riot control equipment and other support which the U. 3. could give Latin American nations for internal security purposes; to determine which Latin American. nations could assist the U. S. in a blockade of Cuba; to prepare a list of offensive weapons to include in a blockade, and to consider the pro's and con's of blockading aircraft as well as ships.

Friday, 19 October

October 19 was a day of preparation for some form of military action. At 0830Q, a message went out from the Chief of Naval Personnel to District Commandants and the Chief of Naval Air Reserve Training alerting them to the possibility of recalling Reservists and advising them of policy in this regard.

CINCLANT dissolved Joint Task Force 122 and assumed the responsibilities of the blockade force commander. At the same time he established Cuban contingency communications requirements.

That morning, MATS airlift scheduled for a Marine Attack Squadron to be moved from MCAS Beaufort to Roosevelt Roads, P.R. CINCLANT recommended that the Tactical Air Command be relieved of some of its Pacific commitments in order to make available F-100's and crews to execute CINCLANT Operations Plan 312-62.

Fleet Air, Jacksonville deployed 10 of its VFP Blue Moon aircraft to Key West. Targets, routes, and flight schedules were implemented for conducting the low-level reconnaissance flights; the planes were on 4-hour standby.

During the afternoon, the Army was directed by JCS to expedite the readiness of a Hawk battalion at Fort Meade and CINCLANT was authorized to direct its movement to Key West at his discretion. The Commandant, Marine Corps, was ordered to designate another Hawk battalion for temporary deployment from the Pacific Command to LANTCOM. JCS also directed CINCONAD to appraise air defenses of the Southeast U. S. and then, the remainder of the nation.

That evening, CINCPAC commands began to assemble amphibious shipping in embarkation ports in preparation for possible orders to change the operation control of the 5th MEB sea echelon to CINCLANT.

From 1500-1900Q, there was a meeting In the office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense. The subject discussed was Mr. Gilpatric's memorandum to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that afternoon which evolved the night before during the White House meeting and proposed a less vigorous action than that espoused by the Chiefs. The JCS's reply dealt extensively on the capability to cope with Communist-inspired insurgency in Latin American countries. When this meeting broke up, Admiral Anderson, who had flown back from Patuxent River, and Admiral Ricketts returned to CNO's office with the Secretary of the Navy and the Assistant Judge Advocate General and discussed the blockade of Cuba.

All Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and squadrons not required for air defense, reconnaissance, or ASW surveillance were ordered relocated because of overcrowding at Florida bases. The aircraft status in regard to Caribbean area was:

U.S. Naval Air Station, Jacksonville
76 fighters
157 attack
10 patrol
Various replacement and administrative aircraft.
U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo
7 fighters
12 attack
5 patrol
Utility and administrative aircraft
U.S. Naval Air Station, Key West
26 fighters
5 ASW aircraft
Replacement and administrative aircraft.
U.S. Naval Air Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico
15 patrol
Utility and administrative aircraft.

Meetings of the NSC interdepartmental group were held all day at the State Department, primarily in the Under Secretary's conference room. As outlines of possible courses of action emerged, working groups were established within the main policy body. Before the President left on a scheduled campaign trip, he met with General Taylor, Mr. Rusk, and Mr. McNamara, delaying his departure half an hour. During this meeting it was decided that CNO, acting for the JCS, should prepare a plan for the limited blockade of Cuba.

Meanwhile, U. S. ambassadors to Latin American countries who were in the U. S. were ordered to return to their posts. Aerial reconnaissance continued throughout the day, and an order went out canceling a scheduled Tactical Air Command full-mobility exercise. The cancellation was announced by the Pentagon and attributed to poor weather in refueling areas caused by Hurricane Ella.

During the night the first draft of the President's October 22 speech was put together. It and succeeding drafts were sent to Admiral Anderson for comment. Some recommended revisions were incorporated, others were not.

In response to query, a Pentagon spokesman denied that any alert had been ordered or that any emergency measures had been set in motion against Cuba. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had no information indicating the presence of offensive weapons in Cuba.

Saturday, 20 October

On Saturday morning, October 20, Mr. McNamara directed Admiral Anderson to prepare the position and policy papers, scenario, and implementing instructions for the limited blockade. The Air Force Chief of Staff was ordered to handle the same details for an air strike against Cuban-based Soviet offensive weapons. CNO's responsibility also included the defense of Guantanamo Naval Base. Work began on these papers at 0930Q; they were to be completed by 1330Q for presentation to the President.

Admiral Anderson's paper stated the objective of the action was to stop a further build-up of an offensive capability in Cuba and ultimately to eliminate it. This initially was to involve a naval blockade against offensive weapons within the framework of the Organization of American States and the Rio Treaty. Such a blockade might be expanded to cover all types of goods and air transport. The action was to be backed up by surveillance of Cuba. CNO's scenario was followed closely in later implementing the quarantine.

The President had returned early to Washington from his campaign trip to hear reports concerning the Cuban situation. An official statement said that he had canceled the remainder of the trip because of a "cold."

The JCS position papers were ready at 1345Q and were sent to General Taylor at the White House, where a meeting was in progress with the President, the principals of the National Security Council, the Cuban planning group; and Ambassadors Stevenson, Thompson, and Lovett. A detailed intelligence briefing was given and Cuban aerial photographs exhibited These enlarged photographs showed the work at each missile site.

In the course of this conference, blockade papers were approved and the President's speech set for Monday night at 1900Q (October 22). Although the President at first wished to make the statement on the 21st, he was dissuaded from this to allow for adequate military preparations and to provide for time to notify our allies. The possibility remained, however, of acting sooner if a security breach developed.

That night, the State Department sent preposition messages to all Latin American posts to warn against Communist-inspired rioting and to indicate the course to be taken if violent actions transpired.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department prepared for the quarantine, and contingency military build-up continued at a rapid pace. During the morning, while the position and policy papers were in preparation, the Joint Chiefs notified CINCSTRIKE that should a decision be made to take military action against Cuba, operational control of Army and Air Force units included under Cuban contingency operations plans would be transferred to CINCLANT. They also advised cognizant commanders that the increased state of tension with respect to Cuba could lead to military action and to expect orders for a higher world-wide defense condition of readiness.

Earlier, Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific, reported to CINCPACFLT On the status of units of Amphibious Squadron Three and 5th MEB shipping which were standing by in West Coast ports of embarkation for change of operational control to CINCLANT. Before noon, the Third Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion at Marine Corps Air Station, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., comprising three Hawk batteries and equipment for a fourth, was ordered deployed to CINCLANT for the further operational control of the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. At about the same time, CINCLANT reported that 10 "BLUE MOON" low-level photographic-reconnaissance aircraft were in position at Key West, with seven more standing by. CINCLANT recommended cancellation of the PHIBRIGLEX 62 under the guise that Hurricane Ella had scattered ships and delayed the landing.

That afternoon, JCS received CINCLANT's recommendations for the air defense of Puerto Rico and the Canal Zone. CINCLANTFLT notified the base commander at Guantanamo to be prepared to evacuate all noncombatants Saturday night or at any time in the next two days. The base commander replied that he had prepared a plan for night evacuation to minimize the possibility of early intelligence to the Cubans. The JCS were recommending actions which would delay the evacuation until Monday night.

During the evening, CNO advised the Sea Frontier Commanders and coastal District Commandants of possible positive military action in response to the Cuban situation. The action, he said, may require any part of the "full spectrum" of military possibilities. He particularly called their attention to procedures related to disaster control, control of shipping and blockade in those areas within 1,000 miles of Cuba. Earlier that afternoon, he had sent a message to CINCUSNAVEUR concerning the readiness of our ballistic missile submarines. "I trust," he said, "that any Polaris subs alongside the tender at Holy Loch will be capable of getting underway with little or no notice in the event the JCS raise the defense condition of readiness or if you learn of any actions which would indicate such movements advisable." The Air Force recommended to the JCS what reserve forces it desired to have called up to improve air defense in the Southeast U.S., a Marine Air Group was deployed to NAS, Key West, and Military Air Transport Service airlift requirements were set up for the prepositioning of personnel and equipment.

JCS directed CINCSTRIKE to withdraw Army and Air Force units involved in Exercise "THREE PAIRS" which were needed for CINCLANT OpPlans 312, 314, and 316.

Sunday, 21 October

The quarantine proclamation had been completed and the OAS and UN resolutions were prepared. Mr. Pierre Salinger (White House), Mr. Robert Manning (State), and Mr. Arthur Sylvester (Defense) met to establish public-affairs coordination.

At 1430Q, the President met with the National Security Council, Mr. Don Wilson (USIA), and Admiral Anderson to discuss the third draft of the Presidential speech and progress reports on preparations. It was positively decided that our first objective would be to block further shipments of offensive military equipment to Cuba and that our aim was also to see that the Soviet missiles were removed from Cuba under UN supervision and inspection.

The philosophy that Cuba should be invaded was not completely rejected. It was placed to the right in the spectrum of action. First would come the limited blockade, then a complete blockade.~ these failed to achieve the removal of the offensive weapons, the next step would be selective air strikes, followed finally by the implementation of one of two invasion plans - 314, where time did not permit peak readiness of the invasion force, or 316, where amphibious and airborne assault could be accomplished from a full readiness posture. The last contingency was general war, which might result from extreme Soviet reaction.

During the day a list of Congressional leaders to be summoned to Washington was prepared by the White House, and it was determined where they could be picked up by jet aircraft in the morning. Once the list was formulated, the Congressmen were asked to attend the White House meeting on Monday at 1700R.

Before the day had ended, the State Department sent top-secret telegrams to our Ambassadors describing proposed actions. The text of the President's speech with covering letter to Mr. Khrushchev was sent to the Embassy in Moscow for delivery to the Soviet Foreign Office one hour before the President's public address. Presidential letters were sent to Prime Minister MacMillan, President de Gaulle, Chancellor Adenauer, Prime Ministers Nehru, Diefenbaker, and Fanfani, Berlin's Mayor Brandt, and others through our Embassies for delivery. The text of the President's speech was sent in code to all posts, and individual letters from the President were sent to 43 heads of government. (During the weekend, the State Department transmitted 45 separate Presidential letters or other documents to a total of 441 recipients.)

In the afternoon and evening, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the Commander in Chief, Atlantic to prepare to evacuate dependents from Guantanamo and to reinforce that base on Monday; to assume operational control of Army and Air Force units, included under Cuban plans; and to be prepared to furnish riot support control to Latin American countries as required. At 2200Q, Secretary McNamara approved the procedures and rules of the quarantine.

Up to this time, much had been done to place our forces in an increased readiness posture. Steps had been taken to improve defenses in the Southeast U.S. and to reinforce Guantanamo. Covertly, our forces worldwide had been alerted to meet any of the contingencies which might arise. Many more preparations were necessary, however, before the JCS considered the stage set, not so much for the imposition of the blockade but for the possibilities such action might precipitate. It was absolutely essential that our deterrent capability be at a peak when the President made his statement so our forces would respond to any aggressive action by Cuba, the Warsaw Pact nations, or the Soviet Union.

On the 21st the JCS further appraised the situation as follows: The Caribbean Command had transferred two LST's to the operational control of CINCLANT, CINCPAC was ready to transfer the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade to the Atlantic Command, and CINCLANT was now in overall operational control of forces committed to any Cuban action. To strengthen our defense posture in the Southeast U.S., a Hawk battalion at Fort Meade was being readied for movement to Key West. Additionally, CINCONAD had been authorized to deploy certain units to augment air defenses - 14 F-102's to Homestead AFB, raising the number of interceptors there to 18, and six RC-121 to McCoy AFB, to bring the total to 12. CONAD aircraft at Tyndall AFB were alerted as augmentation forces, and at Key West there was a detachment of all-weather Navy fighters and a squadron of 10 F4H's.

Increased reconnaissance of Cuba and worldwide was in effect, specific targets had been defined, pilots were being briefed on their assignments and training was underway to prepare for Cuban action. Military Sea Transport Service Upshur and U.S. Navy ships were standing by for the evacuation of Guantanamo dependents. Other MSTS ships and MATS aircraft were employed or being readied for prepositioning and Cuban support activity. SAC aircraft were alerted for possible dispersal, and CINCARIB and CINCLANT were taking action to provide for possible air attack against military installations in Puerto Rico and the Canal Zone. A Marine Hawk battalion was being sent to Guantanamo, and CINCPAC was assembling shipping for movement of the 5th MEB.

On the 21st, the Chief of Naval Operations deputized the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and Deputy CNO's VADM U.S.G. Sharp and VADM C.D. Griffin to act for him; one of these officers would be present at all times in CNO's office when CNO was absent. Legal decisions regarding the blockade became the responsibility of the Navy Judge Advocate General. Special procedures were established to insure a rapid and timely flow of information concerning the blockade to CNO, JCS, the White House, and other interested parties from the CNO Flag Plot.

CNO's responsibility not only included the execution of the blockade and defense of Guantanamo, but protection of U.S. shipping as well. At 2034Q on October 21, CINCLANT reported that Commander, Key West Forces was tasked for the protection of shipping in the Florida Straits and the Yucatan Channel with 1 DD, 2 DDE, 1 DER, 8 F8U, and 1 VP detachment. CINCARIB Sea Frontier was responsible for the Windward Passage and the evacuation of Guantanamo dependents with 1 DD, 1 AVP, 2 MSO, 2 DE, 1 VA squadron (AD's), 1 VU squadron (F8U's) and 1 VP detachment.

Published: Fri May 08 14:40:01 EDT 2020