50. Memorandum for the Record1

    • Minutes of the Meeting of the 40 Committee, 19 November 1970
    • Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Packard, Mr. Johnson, Admiral Moorer, and General Cushman.
    • Messrs. John Irwin, Charles A. Meyer, William Broe, Arnold Nachmanoff, and Wymberley Coerr were present for Item 1.
    • Colonel Richard T. Kennedy and Mr. Thomas Karamessines were present for the entire meeting.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the U.S. Black Sea operation.]

2. Black Sea Freedom of the Seas Patrol

Mr. Kissinger said he wished to brief the Committee members on the thinking of higher authority with regard to the proposed periodic Black Sea patrol by two U.S. destroyers contained in the JRC monthly forecast for the month of November. He stated that when the Soviet activity in Cuba first began to look substantially as though the Soviets might be establishing a nuclear submarine support facility there, higher authority considered sending a U.S. naval patrol into the Black Sea as a signal of disapproval to the Soviets. This was not done at the time, but higher authority has now approved in principle expanding the proposed JRC Black Sea destroyer operation in two respects:
adding one more destroyer to the proposed two-destroyer mission, and
extending the northernmost leg of the proposed track to make a closer approach to the USSR than have previous destroyer missions in the Black Sea, although the closest point of approach to Soviet territory would still be 39 miles.
Mr. Johnson pointed out that the most recent intelligence showed that the Soviet submarine tender had just left Cienfuegos, Cuba, that morning. He also stated that the Turks might object to the addition of a third destroyer to the scheduled two-destroyer patrol.
Admiral Moorer commented that a problem of timing existed under the notification requirements of the Montreux Convention. He pointed out that under this restriction an advance notice of at least eight, and preferably fifteen, days is required prior to entry of a ship into the Black Sea. Since the two-destroyer patrol is scheduled for entry on 27 November, the time available probably did not permit proper notification under the terms of the Montreux Convention. Admiral Moorer stated that changing the mission track itself was no problem, as this can be radioed any time. However, it appeared that addition of another destroyer to the patrol would necessitate some delay in its dispatch.
Mr. Kissinger stated that perhaps changing the mission track would be enough considering the departure of the Soviet submarine tender from Cienfuegos. But, he pointed out, the latter happened before—an announcement had been made to the press and the tender had returned to Cienfuegos. Since the tender had not yet traveled far enough to provide an indication of whether or not it is leaving Cuban waters, he asked if it would be possible to say nothing to the press for the time being about its departure.
Mr. Packard commented that in the normal course of events, if the question were asked at the next day’s Department of Defense press briefing, the response would be that the tender had departed Cienfuegos. He stated that he would see if he could arrange for such queries to be answered merely by saying that no new information was available.
Mr. Kissinger stated that after Admiral Moorer had double-checked on the timing problem under the Montreux Convention he would circulate to the Committee members for concurrence and/or comment the mission composition, timing, and track proposed.
On 24 November 1970 a memorandum was circulated and concurred in by each member,2 reflecting that the Black Sea patrol would proceed with two destroyers as scheduled on 27 November following the above-described expanded track, a copy of which was attached for the examination of each Committee member. Subsequently, the mission proceeded and was completed as scheduled without untoward incident.

3. Soviet Reaction [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Packard said he would like to invite to the attention of the members the circumstances surrounding the incident [2 lines not declassified] and subsequently alleged an intrusion of USSR airspace.3 He pointed out that there was clearly no intrusion of Soviet airspace [6 lines not declassified]
Mr. Packard conceded that he had not focused on and been aware of the more provocative nature of this new track and that he planned to establish a firmer control over the introduction of such changes in the JRC Monthly Schedule in the future.
Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Johnson agreed that they, too, had missed the possible provocative significance of this new track.
Mr. Kissinger asked that in future monthly schedules any track changes, and the reasons for such changes, be clearly pointed out and highlighted for the attention of the members.

3. Admiral Moorer undertook to flag for the members all such new proposed mission tracks in future JRC Monthly Reconnaissance Schedules. This procedure was initiated by incorporation of a “New Track” section in the JRC Schedule for December 1970.4

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the U.S. Black Sea operation.]

  1. Source: National Security Council, Intelligence Files, 40 Committee Minutes. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Chapin on December 10. Copies were sent to Mitchell, Packard, Johnson, Moorer, and Helms. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the meeting was held from 5:35 to 6:15 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76)
  2. Not found.
  3. See Document 48.
  4. Not found.