89. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Secure—TELECON/IN—From Dr. Kissinger—1751

HAK:—You going on Thanh Hoa thing tomorrow night.

CJCS:—My instructions are to do it the best time tomorrow night.2 I am talking Washington not later than Friday night.3

HAK:—We would prefer tomorrow night.

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CJCS:—Everybody knows it. I telephoned 2 or 3 hours ago to that effect.4

HAK:—What would be the effect of that?

CJCS:—Matter of getting all the operations coordinated I think probably they could as it really gives them 26 hours to get ready to target suitable for 52’s those 2 canceled the other night anyway late in the middle of the night briefed because problems coordinating I think do all right.

HAK:—If it has got to be Friday, it has got to be Friday.

CJCS:—I understand. We know what you want and we are trying to produce.

HAK:—The President is wondering if there is any way to block that channel into Haiphong. Can we tow concrete blocks in there or something like that?

CJCS:—We have looked at several plans, sinking old submarines in there, etc. Another scheme we have blowing up all the buoys and causing them to go adrift. Ships could not navigate in there. Another scheme we have one of the problems you have to look at as I see it silts up Red River comes down that channel so that it is a little, it would be difficult to do with concrete blocks actually.

HAK:—You get the idea something that can be done just to make shipping more difficult.

CJCS:—One of the things we can do may be remove all the buoys for them and try that. I will talk to the Fleet Commander on the things looked at other than mining, sinking some kind of ship in that channel.

HAK:—That is a possibility, sinking a ship in mouth of harbor busy for a month or so.

CJCS:—If it is in the right place or CIA could do it. Give me a minute or two to think on it.

HAK:—I don’t need it until next week.

CJCS:—I will have three plans by then.

HAK:—You know what is wanted on the other things.

CJCS:—I will take care of it.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Top Secret.
  2. Moorer met with his senior planners at 3:58 p.m. He recorded in his diary: “I told them to make an implementer for a strike in the Thanh Hoa area and I wanted to include Route 1A, route 7, Hanoi/Vinh railroad, if feasible desire the strike to be executed on 21 April, Saigon time, otherwise no later than 22 April, Saigon time. We should use laser weapons. Or Smart walleye bombs on the famous Thanh Hoa bridge. These should be the large 3,000 pounder weapons. We should plan 18 B–52s, split between the transshipment point and the POL. Tacair can go in on the railroad yards, the thermal power plan and we want to conduct an overall heavy strike on the Thanh Hoa area. Tacair should also hit Bai Thuong.” (Entry for 3:58 p.m.; ibid.)
  3. The night of April 21.
  4. At 4:28 p.m., Moorer called McCain. He told McCain that the Pacific Command would receive orders within the hour to conduct the attack on Thanh Hoa. Moorer gave him the gist of the message, including the 14 targets to be hit so that McCain’s staff could begin work on the strike. (Moorer Diary, April 19; National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman) In message 5651 to CINCPAC, April 19, Moorer sent the orders at 6:27 p.m. (Ibid., Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 68, JCS Out General Service Messages, 16–30 April 1972)