23. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Hoopes) to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1



  • Possible Redeployment of 6th Fleet

Mr. McNaughton and I have just returned from a meeting in the State Department which was devoted to an assessment of the fluid situation in the Middle East. One action to emerge from the meeting was the decision to reconvene immediately the Contingency Coordinating Group2 to reexamine the major issues and options in light of the developing Arab-Israeli situation. There was also discussion of Sixth Fleet deployments.

Mr. McNaughton and I are aware that this latter subject may have been discussed and perhaps decided at your White House meeting later this afternoon. In any event, we recommend that the major fleet elements (the two carrier task forces and the Marine Battalion) which are currently off the west and southern coasts of Italy be ordered to move now toward the Eastern Mediterranean.3 We believe this can be done quietly and without publicity and will have the effect of reducing the reaction time should its presence be desired in the vicinity of Israel.

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Attached is a summary of present dispositions of the major fleet elements.4

Townsend Hoopes
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 72 A 2468, Middle East 092. Confidential. A copy was sent to Department of Defense General Counsel Paul C. Warnke on June 9.
  2. Three papers prepared by the Contingency Coordinating Committee over the weekend to update the contingency paper of May 1966 (see Document 22) were sent to the White House from the Department of State on May 22. They are filed with a covering memorandum of May 22 from Art McCafferty to Walt Rostow. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis)
  3. A note in McNamara’s handwriting connected to this sentence reads: “5/19. I will talk to Gen. Wheeler. RMcN.” In a telephone conversation that evening, McNamara and Rusk agreed that the Sixth Fleet should steam at normal speed until it reached a position approximately 1 day’s distance from the Eastern end of the Mediterranean. (Notes of telephone conversation at 7:20 p.m. on May 19 prepared by Rusk’s Special Assistant C. Arthur Borg; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls) JCS telegram 5893 to USCINCEUR, May 20, confirmed telephone instructions that elements of the Sixth Fleet should be moved to the Eastern Mediterranean, with the center of gravity of the area of operations within 2 days’ steaming of the Eastern shore, and the Eastern edge no more than 1 day’s time. (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 7, Appendix H)
  4. The attachment, entitled “Sixth Fleet-Position of Major Units, 19 May 1967” lists CTG 61.7 (Com PhibRon 6), with 1,431 Marines on the USS Cambria, in Naples; CTG 60.1, USS America and 3 DDs, with approximately 120 Marines on board, in Livorno and CTG 60.2, USS Saratoga and 6 DDs and 1 CLG, with approximately 100 Marines on board, en route to Palermo.