206. Telegram From the Commander of the Sixth Fleet (Martin) to the U.S.S. America and U.S.S. Saratoga 1

081339Z. USS Liberty Incident.

IAW CINCUSNAVEUR inst P03611#SB forces attacking Liberty are declared hostile.
You are authorized to use force including destruction as necessary to control the situation. Do not use more force than required, do not pursue any unit towards land for reprisal purposes. Purpose of counterattack is to protect Liberty only.2
Brief all pilots contents this msg.
In addition brief pilots that Egyptian territorial limit only 12 miles and Liberty right on edge. Do not fly between Liberty and shoreline except as required to carry out provisions para 2 above. Brief fighter cover that any attacks on attack aircraft, Liberty or they themselves is hostile act and para two above applies.
  1. Source: Naval Security Group Files, Box 896, USS Liberty Pre-76 Inactive Files, Box 1, U.S.S. Liberty, 5750/4, Chronological Message File. Confidential; Flash. The message was repeated at 1349Z from COMSIXTHFLT to CNO, CINCUSNAVEUR, and CTF 60. Received in the Navy Department at 1402Z. A handwritten note on the telegram states that the message was cancelled by COMSIXTHFLT 081609Z. Prior to that, however, telegram 081440Z from COMSIXTHFLT to the America and the Saratoga directed: “Recall all strikes.” (Naval Historical Center, Operational Archives Branch, U.S.S. Liberty Incident, Message File) Telegram 081645Z from COMSIXTHFLT to USCINCEUR reported that all aircraft from the America and the Saratoga had been recalled and were accounted for. (Ibid.)
  2. JCS telegram 7354 to UNCINCEUR, 081416Z Jun 67, reads as follows: “You are authorized to use whatever force required to defend USS Liberty from further attacks.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 7, Appendix H) JCS telegram 7369 to USCINCEUR, 081529Z Jun 67, confirmed a telephone conversation from Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Horacio Rivero to Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command General David A. Burchinal USAF, cancelling this authorization. (Ibid.)