270. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

335. Please hand the following to the ICC with the request that this protest be passed to the Hanoi regime:

“The United States Government takes an extremely serious view of the unprovoked attack made by Communist North Vietnamese torpedo boats on an American naval vessel, the USS Maddox, operating on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2.

United States ships have traditionally operated freely on the high seas, in accordance with the rights guaranteed by international law to vessels of all nations. They will continue to do so and will take whatever measures are appropriate for their defense.

The United States Government expects that the authorities of the regime in North Viet-Nam will be under no misapprehension as to the grave consequences which would inevitably result from any further unprovoked offensive military action against United States forces.”

[Page 603]

Text will be released in Washington at noon press briefing August 4.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Limited Official Use; Flash. Drafted by Corcoran (S/VN); cleared with Green, Forrestal, Harriman, Trueheart, Blouin, McGeorge Bundy, Ball, and others; and initialed by Rusk. The text of the protest is printed in Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1964, p. 258.
  2. Department spokesman Robert McCloskey read the statement to news correspondents on August 4.