On 8 June 1967 the electronic intelligence ship USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was on station in international waters 13 miles off the Sinai Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean. The Arab-Israeli War had wound down, the air was clear, and the seas were light. What happened early that Thursday afternoon is well known.
Without warning, a furious attack on the ship commenced from Israeli Mirage and Mystere jets, followed by Ayah-class motor torpedo boats (MTBs). Employed were rockets, napalm, quick-firing 30-mm and 40-mm cannon, .50-caliber machine guns, and torpedoes. Four unshielded .50-caliber machine guns were the Liberty's only defense. The one Israeli torpedo hit of five launched left a yawning 40-foot hole in the hull, devastating the cryptological spaces below decks and killing 25 U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) technicians instantly.
By David C. Walsh