Memorandum of Telephone Conversations/1/
Washington, June 8, 1967, 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m.
/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret. Drafted by Kohler's Special Assistant Stephen Low and approved in S/S on June 9.
Mr. Yuri N. Tcherniakov, Soviet Chargé d'Affaires a.i.
Mr. Foy D. Kohler, Deputy Under Secretary
Mr. Kohler informed the Chargés that he had an urgent message for the Soviet Government. An American ship, the USS Liberty, was torpedoed a few hours ago off Port Said. We are not sure of the exact location where the incident took place. It is an auxilliary ship. We are sending eight aircraft from the Carrier Saratoga to investigate. We wanted the Soviet Government to know that this was the purpose and the only purpose of those aircraft approaching in that direction. The Chargé said he assumed these would be military aircraft since they came from the Saratoga, and he repeated his understanding that their purpose was solely to investigate.
Mr. Kohler called the Chargé again at 11:00 a.m. to inform him that we have just received the information that it was the Israelis who attacked the vessel. He emphasized, however, that this did not change the import of the message he had given the Chargé earlier to the effect that our planes are going to the scene of the incident in connection with the vessel and not for any other purpose./2/
/2/Telegram 209218 to Moscow, June 8, sent at 11:36 a.m., informed the Embassy that the U.S.S. Liberty, an "auxiliary ship," had been torpedoed about 14 miles north of the UAR coast, that the Saratoga had been instructed to dispatch eight aircraft to the scene, and that the Soviet Chargé had been informed. It instructed the Embassy to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Israelis had acknowledged hitting the ship in error and had apologized, the Soviet Chargé had been informed, and as of 11:25 a.m., the planes had been recalled to the carrier. (Ibid.)