The USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG-17) had been cruising off the coast of Algeria for many days. Jokes were circulating that the next issue of nautical charts for the region would include the ship. All alone she steamed slowly back and forth in a small square assigned to her by the commander of the Sixth Fleet, and many in the Yarnell's crew complained about the monotony.
But under the blue lights in the ship's combat information center, serious business was under way. Air traffic controllers were guiding a continuous stream of aircraft across the Mediterranean skies, while operations specialists peered into cathode ray tubes, watching for airborne intruders and scanning the nearby Algerian coast for hostile activity. A yellow teletype message attached to a clipboard at the CIC watch officer's station read: "Strong Indications That Some Arab Nations May Retaliate Against Sixth Fleet Units. . . . "