112. Editorial Note

The landings of the Cuban Expeditionary Force on the southern coast of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs began as scheduled at 1 a.m. on April 17, 1961. At 1:44 the San Marcos completed the discharge of LCUs and withdrew to sea. (Chronology maintained in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) Air support for the landings was limited to two CEF B-26 bombers, but Admiral Clark reported that the two destroyers he had assigned as Early Warning vessels would be on station some 30 miles offshore by 3:30 a.m. (CTG 81.8 telegram 171418Z, April 17; ibid.) Paratroopers of the First Battalion were dropped at 7:30 and seized the road center of San Blas, 10 [Page 259] miles northeast of Blue Beach. They were reinforced soon thereafter by the Third Battalion and a heavy weapons detachment. (Memorandum No. 1 from the Cuban Study Group to the President, June 13; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Subjects, Taylor Report)

At 9:40 a.m. units of Admiral Clarkʼs Task Group reported that the CEF ships supporting the invasion were under heavy air attack and were putting out to sea. (CINCLANT telegram 171608Z to JCS, April 17; Naval Historical Center, Area Files, Bumpy Road Materials) By 10:17, the CIA reported to the JCS that the Rio Escondido and the Houston had been sunk, and the Blagar was under attack. (Chronology maintained in the Office of CNO; ibid.) Admiral Clark instructed the two destroyers providing early warning to withdraw if necessary, but not to become involved in action except for self defense. The Task Group would provide air CAP for the destroyers but not the CEF. (CINCLANT telegram 171608Z to JCS; ibid.) At 10:36 a.m. Admiral Dennison instructed Task Group 81.8, which had been retiring from the area according to plan, to reverse course and move north to a position which would allow closer support if authorized. (CINCLANTFLT telegram 171536Z to CTG 81.8, April 17; ibid.)