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USS Liberty Incident

Comments



  • Stop the Americans from listening in on Israeli internal communications and gaining knowledge of any specific Israeli electronic equipment that they may have.

    NTM




  • I've always found that incident fascinating, at a time of such pressure and how everything was on tenter hooks that this wasn't more of an explosive event. Planning to dive on it one of these days!




  • I remember reading an website article put together by a survivor who maintained that the israeli aircraft were in egyptian markings. Can't seem to find the link now however it is repeated here :

    http://www.amconmag.com/blog/the-uss-libertys-final-chapter/
    Could the USS Liberty have been an intended victim of a false flag simulated Egyptian attack, leading to American involvement on behalf of Israel in the fighting? Though that line of inquiry might appear implausible, the White House ordered the return of US warplanes sent to assist the Liberty, suggesting that Johnson knew who the attackers were in spite of the fact that the Israelis had covered over their aircraft markings in an apparent attempt to blame the Egyptians. One might also recall the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

    There is also an interesting site here :

    http://www.gtr5.com/

    and article here

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/eedition/chi-liberty_tuesoct02,0,43090.story?page=1

    I would have no doubts whatsoever it was intentional despite the israeli military investigation report and despite the wiki page article on this. As far as motives go blaming egypt and therefore drawing the USA into full conflict on the israeli side appear to be the most likely in my view.




  • I've always wondered how it was possible to tell an Israeli Mirage III from an Egyptian MiG-21 at 500' and 300kts...

    NTM




  • Stop the Americans from listening in on Israeli internal communications and gaining knowledge of any specific Israeli electronic equipment that they may have.

    NTM


    What the Israeli army may or may not have being doing onshore that afternoon ir very pertinent


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  • I've always wondered how it was possible to tell an Israeli Mirage III from an Egyptian MiG-21 at 500' and 300kts...

    NTM

    Might also depend on if their Israeli airforce markings have been painted over/disguised.




  • In my view this was deliberate. This seems borne out by the survivors, accounts, evidence and multiple sources who record seeing transcripts where the pilots clearly acknowledge it's an american vessel.

    I doubt the israelis would go to these lengths to prevent electronic eavesdropping.

    If you read through some of the links above :

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/eedition/chi-liberty_tuesoct02,0,43090.story?page=1
    http://www.gtr5.com/
    http://www.amconmag.com/blog/the-uss-libertys-final-chapter/

    &
    http://ussliberty.org/report/report.htm
    At approximately 0600 hours (all times local) on the morning of June 8, 1967 an Israeli maritime reconnaissance aircraft observer reported seeing "a US Navy cargo type ship," just outside the coverage of the Israeli coastal radar defense net, bearing the hull markings "GTR-5".[11] This report, made to Israeli naval HQ, was also forwarded immediately to the Israeli navy intelligence directorate.[12]

    Throughout the remainder of the day prior to the attack, Israeli reconnaissance aircraft regularly flew out to USS Liberty’s position and orbited the ship before returning to their bases in Israel. A total of no fewer than eight (8) such flights were made.[13]

    At approximately 1050 hours, the naval observer from the early morning reconnaissance flight arrived at Israeli air force HQ and sat down with the air-naval liaison officer there. The two officers consulted Janes’ Fighting Ships and learned that the ship reported earlier in the day was USS Liberty, a United States Navy technical research ship.[14]

    From 0900 hours on June 8, 1967, until the time of the attack five hours later, USS Liberty maintained a speed of approximately five knots and a generally westerly-northwesterly course.[15]

    At 1400 hours, while approximately 17 miles off the Gaza coast, USS Liberty’s crew observed three surface radar contacts closing with their position at high speed. A few moments later, the bridge radar crew observed high speed aircraft passing over the surface returns on the same heading.[16]

    Within a few short moments, and without any warning, Israeli fighter aircraft launched a rocket attack on USS Liberty. The aircraft made repeated firing passes, attacking USS Liberty with rockets and their internal cannons. After the first flight of fighter aircraft had exhausted their ordnance, subsequent flights of Israeli fighter aircraft continued to prosecute the attack with rockets, cannon fire, and napalm. [17]

    During the air attack, USS Liberty’s crew had difficulty contacting Sixth Fleet to request assistance due to intense communications jamming

    The initial targets on the ship were the command bridge, communications antennas, and the four .50 caliber machine guns, placed on the ship to repel boarders.[19]

    After the Israeli fighter aircraft completed their attacks, three Israeli torpedo boats arrived and began a surface attack about 35 minutes after the start of the air attack. The torpedo boats launched a total of five torpedoes, one of which struck the side of USS Liberty, opposite the ship’s research spaces. [20] Twenty-six Americans in addition to the eight who had been killed in the earlier air attacks, were killed as a result of this explosion.

    Following their torpedo attack, the torpedo boats moved up and down the length of the ship (both the port and starboard sides), continuing their attack, raking the ship with cannon and machine gun fire.[21] In Malta, crewmen were later assigned the task of counting all of the holes in the ship that were the size of a man’s hand or larger. They found a total of 861 such holes, in addition to "thousands" of .50 caliber machine gun holes.

    Survivors report that the torpedo boat crews swept the decks of USS Liberty with continuous machine gun fire, targeting communications equipment and any crewmembers who ventured above decks.[22]

    Damage control firefighters, who had already risked their lives merely by appearing on deck, had to abandon their efforts because their fire hoses had been shredded by machine gun fire.[23]

    Survivors also report that the torpedo boat crews fired on the inflated life boats launched by the crew after the captain gave the order "prepare to abandon ship."[24] This order had to be rescinded because the crew was unable to stand on the main deck without being fired upon and the life rafts were destroyed as they were launched.


    repeated surveillance and reconnaisance, multiple repeated straffing/bombing runs, torpedo vessels launched to sink the Liberty while spraying the decks preventing the abandon ship (also shooting inflatable liferafts etc). Launching helicopters full of armed israeli commandos to board the vessel (averted at the last moment). I can't see them going to these lengths (of what is an act of war) . . .all that to prevent some electronic surveillance from an ally ?




  • Israel and the US weren't exactly allies at that point. Its only around that time (President Johnson) that US-Israel relations moved much closer.

    Notice that they didnt have much US military equipment? France had been their closest ally in the 1950s, and supplied a lot, including the Mirages, and early nuclear technology. France lost interest in Israel at this time. They couldn't afford to alienate the Arab (and oil producing world). The Eastern Bloc, with Stalin's permission, even provided more direct aid to Israel than the US in the immediate post-Independence period (1947). Aside from the Jewish lobby in the US government in 1947 was not very enthusiastic about the new state of Israel. The alienation of the Arab world would always be a major factor, plus the socialist leanings of the Israeli state pre-1977.

    Would it be fair to say that they had only been proper allies, after Nixon agreed to air lift supplies to them at a critical time in the 1974 Yom Kippur War?

    I think its plausible that Israel did attack the USS Liberty. Another of the reasons given for this is that they did not want them to hear news of a massacre of Egyption POWs in the Sinai.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6419471.stm

    Even recently, with the US and Israel very close allies, there have been many example of Israel going against the wishes of the US, e.g. spying on them behind their back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Pollard




  • There are a couple of problems with that (to keep a P.O.W. massacre quiet) scenario in my view.

    I believe that this particular massacre (of Egyptian pow's) was on the same day as the attempted sinking of the Liberty.

    Yet the above timeline outlines prolonged israeli surveillance and reconnaisance aircraft activity throughout the day before the massacre of Egyptian pow's and attempted sinking of the USS Liberty.

    This 'P.O.W.' scenario also works on the assumption that the israelis are reckless to the point of taking a decision as monumental as to attack an ally and global superpower . . . . at almost no advance notice whatsoever ? Massacre on that day means attack the USA that very day to prevent the news of the massacre getting out ?

    This scenario works on the assumption that sinking the liberty would somehow prevent news of the egyptian massacre from being uncovered through some other means.

    It seems unlikely to me that the israelis would try to kill a few hundred american servicemen in order to cover up the executions of several hundred Egyptians, when, in all likelihood not too much of a fuss would be made of the dead egyptians in any event (as turned out to be the case).

    To me the more logical (and more worrying) probability is that the Israeli's carried out this operation in a way designed to prevent surviving eyewitnesses (not merely to disrupt electronic eavesdropping) and in a way that would in all likelihood lead to Egypt being blamed. Therefore drawing the USA into the conflict on the israeli side. The risks of this scenario match the potential benefits (unlike the P.O.W. one). This scenario (blame Egypt for the attack on USS Liberty - scenario) does not require 'that day' logistical planning (of lining up reconnaisance aircraft, attack aircraft, attack choppers and torpedo boats etc) not to mention senior government level decision making on the fly.




  • It was also deeply ironic that quite a few of the dead Americans were Jewish. Clearly, they knew who they were attacking and carried out the attack with a ferocity that belied any simple intent to just drive it off or cause it to surrender.
    regards
    Stovepipe


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  • In my view, it was a deliberate act.

    The fact that the Americans made, and have continued to make, relatively little noise about it is down to them basically being caught spying on an ally and passing information to their, supposedly mutual, enemy.

    A lot of Syrian formations in the war had considerable numbers of Soviet personnel attached as advisers, in the case of certain air defence installations they were effectively Soviet manned.

    Information was reaching these "red" formations of Israeli targets.

    Whether Liberty was directly involved or not is open to debate but the message was clear enough. Back off!

    Some sources in fact assert that Liberty's mission was to ascertain the location of field deployed Israeli surface to surface missile batteries and pass them to a Polaris (nuclear) armed submarine which would interdict the Israeli weapons should it seem likely that Israel would target cities or formations with sufficient Soviet manpower to draw the USSR into the conflict directly, thus potentially starting a catalytic global nuclear war.




  • Survivors were able to testify that the attacking aircraft were Mysteres and Skyhawks, used only by the Israelis.

    regards
    Stovepipe




  • Stovepipe wrote: »
    Survivors were able to testify that the attacking aircraft were Mysteres and Skyhawks, used only by the Israelis.

    regards
    Stovepipe


    The Israelis never denied it. They just claimed it was an error.




  • Some commentary on the incident by historian John Keegan:

    "[Israel] attacked an American communications ship during the Six-Day War because it objected to America listening in to its most secret signals."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3633843/Why-Israel-will-go-to-war-again-soon.html

    Keegan is an excellent historian - read The Face of Battle if you have not done so - with the highest professional connections so I'd certainly respect his considered opinion.




  • Stovepipe wrote: »
    Survivors were able to testify that the attacking aircraft were Mysteres and Skyhawks, used only by the Israelis.

    regards
    Stovepipe

    Israel never had Skyhawks in 1967


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