Blockades do work 16

One of my earliest memories as a kid was the story about the Cuban Missile Crisis. While there were many parts to this story, the one that I remember most was the Naval Blockade.

October 22, 1962 – President John F. Kennedy orders a surface blockade of Cuba to prevent Soviet offensive weapons from reaching Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. By forcefully employing U.S. naval forces, President John F. Kennedy is able to achieve his strategic objectives and deal with a dangerous and well-armed Soviet Union without war.

I would be interested to hear from those who served during that time about their experiences.

Mister Mac

16 comments

  1. I was in San Diego at the ASW base just finished sonar school and was waiting on orders to sub. school. I remember the harbor cleared completely out overnight

  2. Hello Mister Mac,
    I was in the US NAVY SEABEES during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I pulled this from part of my documentation I have prepared for my only 2 grandchildren so they will have a record of what was going on in my life even before their parents were born.

    “President John F. Kennedy was on TV announcing the “BLOCKADE” of Russian ships heading for Cuba on October 22nd 1962, I was in the Seabee Club just outside the Main Gate at Davisville, RI (HOME OF THE SEABEES). Before the President finished his announcement, over the Club intercom it was announced that my unit of MCB-1 was to “Report to Personnel IMMEDIATELY”. There I was told to “ Pack my bags that I was While heading out”. I asked, “Where am I going ?”. I was told, “We don’t know and couldn’t tell you if we did. Be at Quonset Point Naval Air Station at 0500 tomorrow. When you get airborne, they will tell you where you will land.” After takeoff, it was announced, “Next stop, New River, NC.” Since I was from Fayetteville, NC, I knew we were going to CAMP LEJEUNE. We were assigned to the Marines 8th Engineer Division. Our mission if activated was to deploy with them and construct an airfield for aircraft to land with supplies and troops. After a few days of refresher training on the M-14 rifle and the BAR-60 I was assigned to be a DI (Drill Instructor) for a group of reserve marines. It was my duty to march them to & from the base training sites which lasted about 6 weeks.”

    And as usual, here’s a plug for my article on your blog for the “AFDB-7 LOS ALAMOS – In the Beginning”, about the floating dry-dock in Holy Loch Scotland, erected by the SEABEES in 1961.

    Norman Rachels
    Steelworker Erector E-5

  3. I was on the Carp(SS338) at the time on our way back to Norfolk from a 4 month Med cruise.We were diverted to Cuba to challenge ships many times our size. I remember how dumb it seamed with me standing on deck with a BAR in my hand with the captain telling this big ship to stop. We were finally released to return to home port where we were greeting by a lot of angry wife’s and girl friends.They never believed it wasn’t our fault for being late. You just can’t win sometimes.
    Lou Simmons

    • Hey Lou…Just catching-up on my email/reading…Gosh, in ’62 I was just starting my sophomore year at BPI…Take Care…SEEYA…

  4. I was on the Minesweeper USS SALUTE MSO 470, our job was to patrol a place called Windward passage, we were to challenge every ship coming through there with our 40mm gun fwd and some M-1’s we had aboard, might I also mention flank was 14 Knts. We would spend 5 days there and than return to Gitmo to refuel and take on fresh water and provisions, spend 2 days there than patrol the area outside the entrance to Gitmo for the next 5 days. After that we went back to Gitmo loaded up and returned to Windward passage. When it was over I went to Submarine School, smartest thing I ever did!

    D.W. Jenkins HMCS(SS) USN RET

  5. I was aboard my first submarine assignment, USS Halibut SS(G)N 587. Although we were in the north pacific operation was even more tense than normal. We knew if things didn’t work out all s**t could brake loose. And we may have to do what we were designed for.

    Hal Egbert MM1(SS), USS Halibut, USS Gudgeon, USS Sargo, and USS Gato.1961 – 1969.

  6. Stationed on my first submarine, and when the crew came back from weekend liberty in New London, a lot of work was being done topside on the boat. We were told we were getting underway later the same day. I was for the blockade. Very interesting times.

  7. I was on the TROUT SS566 operating out or Key West and got orders to report back where we took on a full compliment of torpedos, fuel, water, and food and pulled out the same day with orders to intercept the ship bringing the missles into Cuba. we got within 400 miles from it and it turned around and went home

  8. The morning before the Cuban Missile Crisis broke, I was standing topside mid-watch—midnight to 4 a.m. at the brow (gangplank)—when I noticed lights coming on at various buildings along the waterfront at the Key West Submarine Base. Then cars and trucks were seen whizzing about, going to each submarine tied alongside a pier. Presently a car came alongside the USS Chopper, and a hassled-looking officer asked for Chopper’s duty officer, who was then instructed to recall all our officers and crew, to stand by to take on 30 days of patrol supplies and be ready to depart by 8 a.m. All submarines were apparently given the same instructions. Not long afterwards, a large truck roared up to Chopper, and all hands on board commenced loading boxes of food, foul weather gear, weapons, spare parts, and fuel.

    At approximately 8 a.m., most of the submarines had their engines roaring, and the smoke hung heavy over the waterfront as the first of SUBRON 12’s submarines got underway. [SUBRON stands for SUBmarine squadRON.] One submarine had been in minor overhaul alongside the pier, with her propellers removed, and in the haste to make ready, the propellers were re-installed backwards. As they tried to get underway, the “all back 1/3” became “all back 2/3,” “all back FULL,” as the submarine drove ahead and slowly plowed into the seawall. They rejoined the squadron at sea later.

    By 10 a.m., the entire squadron was in formation on the high seas. From my vantage point as port lookout, the sight of each submarine doing a “trim dive,” one after another, was quite a sight to see. The Chopper then turned northward, and the Captain then informed the crew about the impending Cuban Missile Crisis blockade. The Chopper steamed at top speed to Mayport, Florida Navy base, where we took on fuel and an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) before returning south again.

    While we refueled at Mayport, some crewmembers, including myself, took the opportunity to use the phones on the pier to call our families to urge them to leave their homes and head for the countryside, as many were convinced nuclear war was in the offing. As soon as we were spotted on the phone, however, one of our officers ran up and made us leave the phones “for security reasons.”

    The “special team” was kept relatively isolated in the forward torpedo room, but Chopper’s mission, as rumor had it, was to deliver the UDT to a place near Havana harbor, where they would “lock out” of the forward escape trunk and swim into and sabotage ships and facilities in the harbor, should we receive orders to do so.

    After a week or so, Russia withdrew her missiles, and the Chopper returned to Key West. Later that year, President Kennedy made a visit to Key West Naval Station and boarded the Chopper. He spoke to the Captain and officers, thanking them for doing their duty, and departed.

  9. On patrol on the USS George Washington (SSBN 598) Gold, just completed the patrol and were transiting back to Holy Loch less than a day from the Loch we received orders to turn around and head back out to the North Atlantic and pick up original targets. Boomers provision for the length of the patrol and very little more. So food and cigarettes were scares. (Searching plastic trash bags for the longer butts) Since we had no idea how long we would be at sea meals became Vienna wieners (they were green) and peanut butter from the can,(cans were 1/2 oil and 1/2 almost petrified peanut butter) yum!
    While we were extended we received a WSRT or Weapons System Readiness Test, where the missiles are spun up and prepared for launch, the only people who know if it real or a test are the radioman and the CO. Needless to say, for the 16 minutes it took to ready the missiles we all wondered what home looked like, had a war started, was there anything to go home to … were we going to actually launch nuclear missiles and start the destruction of the world as we knew it. Thank GOD we came back to the Loch with all 16 missiles. Riding a FBM can be very boring, this was not on of those times.

    • Thanks Dennis. I rode the GW from 73-75 and we had a few very interesting alerts as well during the Israeli conflicts of that time. As I recall, none of my four patrols on the Georgefish were very boring at all
      Mac

    • Dennis, I was in Holy Loch with the Blue Crew and relieved you. I believe my good friend, Ken Szblewski was your cook!!

  10. I was stationed in USS Cubera SS-347. We had a problem with the main induction not closing properly and could not get underway. I think every boat in Squadron 6 took some item off Cubera to sea with them as we sat tied up outboard the Orion with a hole where the main induction valve was supposed to be.

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