259. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Sharp)1

7680. This is a DeSoto Patrol message. Reference: A. CINCPACFLT DTG 021104Z (NOTAL). B. ADMINO CINCPAC DTG 021255Z (NOTAL).2

1. You are authorized to continue the DeSoto patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin area in conformance with routes and times specified in reference A, subject to the following:

Closest approach to the NVN mainland coastline will be 11 miles, repeat 11 miles.
Air patrol CAP will be provided during daylight hours, however, CAP will be maintained to the seaward of the two destroyers so as to preclude any possibility of overflight of NVN.
Be extremely watchful for any possible action including possible submarine activity either against the DeSoto patrol or the Ticonderoga task force.
Avoid close approaches to NVN coast during period when maritime activities related to OPLAN 34A are underway.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Maddox Incident. Secret; Immediate. Repeated to MACV, Saigon, the White House, CIA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, among others.
  2. Reference A stated that it was in the best interest of the United States to assert the freedom of the seas and resume Gulf of Tonkin patrols at the earliest. (Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 72 D 219, DeSoto Patrols, August; printed in Goulden, Truth, p. 137) Reference B concurred in these proposals. (Washington National Records Center. RG 219, HQDA Message Center, Reel 11885)