In ‘Hot Pursuit’ of the Pueblo
Captain Stephen P. O’Brien, U.S. Navy (Retired)
In regards to “The Pueblo Scapegoat” (October, pp. 50–57), in 1968 most communist countries claimed a 12-mile limit for territorial waters. Since that would close off bodies of water that the United States wished to enter, we refused to recognize the claims. Instead we conducted “freedom of navigation” exercises in such waters.
The shoreline where the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) incident took place consists of extremely low, flat sandy beaches and tidelands. Depending on the height of the tide, the internationally recognized boundary can differ from the shoreline shown on radar by significant distances. In 1968 GPS did not exist, satellite navigation was poor, and in that area long-range navigation could not fix a position with ten miles.
During the incident, the Pueblo was attempting to ascertain the position of a North Korean radar site. Commander Lloyd M. Bucher stated that he had engine problems and was adrift for several hours. But if one plots his initial position and then takes into account the prevailing winds and currents, one can conclude that the ship most likely entered Korea’s claimed territorial waters. In any event, the Koreans believed their territorial waters were violated and initiated a military response. Bucher then got under way for international waters. During that time the Koreans did not fire on him, and Bucher stopped his ship once he hit international waters.
If a violator goes out of the jurisdiction of the pursuing agency during a pursuit, that agency can continue the chase regardless of the jurisdiction entered as long as the pursuit is continuous. This is commonly referred to as “hot pursuit.” If the violator stops, the pursuit is deemed to have ended in an arrest. If the violator then attempts to again flee, the additional crime of “resisting arrest” is committed.
The pursuit by North Korean forces was continuous, thus they believed they had the right to stop the Pueblo after she reached international waters. When Bucher stopped his ship, the Koreans reported he had surrendered. When he again got under way, his act not only constituted “resisting arrest” but a huge insult. Then and only then did they open fire.
In the end an agreement was reached between North Korea and the United States that can best be summed up as “We still don’t recognize their 12-mile limit; it’s just that we have agreed not to challenge it in the future.”
One of the Ohio Ghost Ship’s Previous Lives
Joseph V. Bruzek
The “Naval History News” item, “Ohio Ghost Ship’s Naval Past” (October, pp. 12–13) brought back fond memories of long ago when I knew the “Ghost Ship” in her incarnation as the Sachem (SP-192). She was part of the fishing fleet under Captain Jake Martin out of Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay and certainly was the queen of the fleet in size and beauty. Captain Martin inaugurated several unique “night trips” out of the bay. The Sachem would leave around 2330 and sail down the New Jersey coast to the fishing grounds off the lower Jersey shore, arriving by sunrise. After a few hours of fishing, she would return to Sheepshead Bay in the afternoon.
My father took me on one of those trips. As a wide-eyed kid, it was the thrill of a lifetime: the passage at night, the heave of the sea, the receding lights of New York City—and to top it off, Captain Martin allowed me in the wheelhouse to help “stand watch.” Although this was more than 75 years ago, I still vividly remember the experience.
The Sachem was a beautiful yacht; I remember she proudly bore a gold chevron on her stack to mark her World War I service. It is a pity that she came to such an ignoble end.
Second Tonkin Gulf Attack?
Rear Admiral L. R. “Joe” Vasey, U.S. Navy (Retired), former Chief of Staff for Commander, 7th Fleet
In “Grand Delusion: U.S. Strategy and the Tonkin Gulf Incident” (August, pp. 24–31), Edward Marolda says, “It is now well established, however, that North Vietnam did not carry out an attack on the two ships on 4 August.” He offers no further comment or justification for this statement and completely ignores the evidence presented by 18 professional witnesses from the two ships. He also ignores the immediate post-action on-scene investigation conducted by unit commander Captain John J. Herrick with the commanding officers of the two ships involved, the USS Turner Joy (DD-951) and Maddox (DD-731). And he ignores the follow-on investigation conducted by 7th Fleet staff professionals and concurred in by the 7th Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Roy Johnson. And he ignores the investigation and interrogations of the 18 witnesses conducted a few days later at the Subic Bay base by a deputy assistant secretary of Defense sent from Washington for this purpose. All concluded that an attack on the two U.S. ships by North Vietnamese forces had taken place.
Dr. Marolda responds:
In his critique, Rear Admiral Vasey disputes my conclusion that “North Vietnam did not carry out an attack [on the Maddox and Turner Joy] on 4 August .” He contends that I ignored evidence to the contrary developed during the Navy’s various post-attack investigations.
This assertion is simply not true. If he had done his homework, he would have known that I coauthored the “official” Navy history of the incident in 1986 that made exhaustive use of the information in question. The weight of the evidence helped persuade me then that the North Vietnamese navy had attacked our destroyers on the night of 4 August.
The pendulum has now swung the other way. Comprehensive studies of the information gathered by the Navy have revealed inconsistencies and contradictions in the action reports, post-incident investigations, and testimony. But the information provided by the Navy formed only part of the evidence needed to support or refute the case for the attack. Then and now, those evaluating the incident consider the National Security Agency’s intercepts of North Vietnamese communications to be the essential “smoking gun.” Recent analysis of that information by the agency has made it clear there was no attack that night. The government in Hanoi has consistently admitted carrying out the 2 August attack on the Maddox but just as consistently denied involvement in the 4 August affair. What motive would Vietnam have to admit one and not the other, even after 50 years?
Nonetheless, I appreciate Rear Admiral Vasey’s views on the controversial episode, since we need to better understand this pivotal event in the history of the Vietnam War.
Commander Tyrone G. Martin U.S. Navy (Retired)
Here’s some information that could perhaps add context to Charles Brodine’s October article, “War Visits the Chesapeake” (pp. 16–25). The majority of Joshua Barney’s galleys were built to a design created by Naval Constructor William Doughty at the Washington Navy Yard in response to Barney’s 4 July 1813 letter to Secretary of the Navy William Jones. In mid-July, Doughty went to Baltimore, purchased three suitable galleys that had been built by local subscription, and contracted for eight more of his design. These were termed “2nd class,” were 50 feet long with a beam of 10 feet, and mounted a single long gun. Just how many actually were built is not known, but Barney would scuttle 13 and more are known to have been at Baltimore at war’s end.
The Doughty designs also were built on Lakes Champlain and Ontario, with 15 units authorized in each case. Eleven, all named, were present at the battle off Valcour Island in September 1814. Fifteen units, numbered 1 through 15, were present on Lake Ontario, at least some of which were of the larger 75-foot, 2-gun type.
William Doughty had begun his career as clerk of the yard for Joshua Humphreys, who designed the Navy’s first frigates. Indeed, it was Doughty who prepared the builders’ plans for five of them. He himself was appointed naval constructor in February 1813, and had drawn up the plans for most of the ships of the line, frigates, and sloops-of-war built during and after the war. Like Barney, he, too, was present at the Battle of Bladensburg, commanding a rifle company on the far left side of the American line. As the British thrust was directed at the right center of the American positions and the cavalry unit protecting his position retreated, he had no alternative but to do likewise. Because the Army had equipped the company only with muskets, they never fired a shot. Doughty retired in the late 1830s and joined his son in fulfilling Navy contracts for live oak. He died in 1859.
Another Quotable Hero
Rolfe L. Hillman III
I enjoyed the August issue, particularly Robert M. Browning’s well-written and thoroughly researched article, “‘Damn the Torpedos’” (pp. 38–42), on Admiral David Farragut’s famous quotation at the Battle of Mobile Bay. I do however take exception to the sentence, “There has certainly never been a greater U.S. naval hero.” I would suggest or counterpropose an equally famous and inspiring naval leader and his quotation: Commodore George Dewey’s “You may fire when ready, Gridley,” at the 1 May 1898 Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands. The U.S. Navy’s victory at Manila Bay marked the beginning of its status as a competitive world naval power and the initiation of the United States’ foreign acquisitions during the “Empire Age.”
James G. Marshall’s Heroic Command of the Doyle
Mary Lee Sprague
A friend just sent me a copy of the June issue of Naval History because he noticed that a picture on page 26 of Craig Symonds’ article “‘The Navy Saved Our Hides’” (pp. 24–29) also hangs over my fireplace. The picture depicts the USS Doyle (DD-494) shelling German gun emplacements near Omaha Beach on D-Day. Contrary to the citation in Symonds’ article, my father, Commander James G. Marshall, was the commanding officer of the Doyle at the time, and he was awarded the Silver Star for this action. He had taken over command of the Doyle from Lieutenant Commander Clarence Boyd in March 1944, more than two months before D-Day. Several years after the war, in 1951, my father was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when he was killed in an explosion and fire on base.
I grew up knowing about my father’s achievements on D-Day. A copy of the picture in question, painted by Coast Guard combat artist H. B. Vestal, hung in my home, as did my father’s Silver Star citation for the Doyle’s actions on D-Day. In fact, during my childhood we were given a private premiere of the movie The Caine Mutiny because the Doyle had been used for part of the filming.