137. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

    • Black Sea and Baltic Sea Operations

This is in response to your question concerning planned or scheduled operations in the Black and Baltic Seas.2

I have directed the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to conduct an enlarged patrol in the Black Sea beginning in mid-April. During recent years this patrol has routinely consisted of two destroyers operating in the Black Sea for four days. The forthcoming patrol will be comprised of four destroyers operating for the same duration. No port calls or unusual activities are planned. The planned track is attached at Tab A.3

The aircraft carrier Intrepid and two escorts will be deployed to the Baltic Sea about 12 May for a period of approximately ten days. This will include a four to six day visit in Helsinki if diplomatic clearance is granted. This deployment will follow a scheduled NATO exercise and upon completion of operations in the Baltic these three ships will proceed to the Mediterranean for operations there. At Tab B4 is an illustrative track of the Baltic Sea operation.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 405, Subject Files, USSR US Ships in the Black Sea (Silver Fox). Secret. In an attached handwritten note, Richard Kennedy commented: “HAK has seen and OK’d. Please hold for Haig.” Haig initialed the memorandum, indicating that he had seen it.
  2. Laird and Kissinger discussed the proposal during a telephone conversation at 10:40 a.m. on March 11: “L: I understand there’s some feeling that the Black Sea thing should be cut back so I am cutting it back. K: Who wants it? L: You and Alex Johnson wanted it cut to 3 destroyers. K: And a little later because of the Party Congress but not destroyers, because of the tender. L: We have 4 programmed in there and if we pull them off then we will have 3. K: Why not another? L: We can’t keep them there that long. We will have to put in different ones because those have yet to be serviced. K: They shouldn’t go in right at the Party Congress but afterwards. It doesn’t have to be April 15 but the President wants something more than before. L: We have the Baltic visits going in. I will look at it again.” (Ibid., Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 8, Chronological File)
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Attached but not printed.
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates Laird signed the original.