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Peacetime Attacks on US Naval Vessels Not New With AM-Ship Attack Bjt

May 20, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Peacetime attacks on U.S. naval vessels like the USS Stark have occurred through American history, including two cases that helped provoke wars.

Still burned into the memory of many Americans is the ″Day of Infamy,″ Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese aircraft struck the U.S. Pacific fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

More than 2,000 Americans died in the attack, which sunk or severely damaged eight battleships, three cruisers and three destroyers. Congress declared war on Japan the following day.

The apparent sabotage sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana, Cuba, on Feb. 15, 1898 killed 260 sailors and led to the Spanish-American War.

The slogan ″Remember the Maine″ aroused patriotic sentiment for conflict, even though the actual cause of the sinking remains shrouded in dispute.

Blame at the time was placed on a Spanish mine.

From early in the nation’s history to the present day, peacetime attacks have occurred, according to historical records.

The Navy historical office said a complete list of the vessels attacked in peacetime was not immediately available.

But among the more prominent incidents are:

-Between 1798 and 1800 the United States and France engaged in a quasi-war that resulted in several naval engagements.

-The USS Philadelphia, sent to the Mediterranean to protect American shipping from pirates, went aground on Oct. 31, 1803 and its crew was taken prisoner and held for ransom. Eventually, U.S. forces under the command of Commodores Stephen Decatur and William Bainbridge brought the Barbary piracy to a halt.

-The USS Chesapeake was fired upon and halted by HMS Leopard on June 22, 1807. The British, searching for deserters from the Royal Navy, took four men off the American ship. The incident provoked a violent protest from the American public and President Jefferson ordered all British vessels out of U.S. ports for a time.

-In 1868, the crew of the gunboat Wateree fought off an attack by local Indians after the vessel was carried ashore in Peru by a giant wave.

-Rear Adm. John Rogers took a U.S. fleet into Korean waters in 1871 in hopes of learning the fate of missing American merchant ships and perhaps negotiating a treaty to open trade with Korea. His squadron was attacked near Seoul. The U.S. struck back with a shore party of Marines, then left.

-On March 16, 1888, U.S. and German warships faced each other at Apia, Samoa, after a dispute over ownership of the islands had led to the shelling of a native village and the Germans pulling down an American flag.

A hurricane overwhelmed the fleets before they could do battle, however, and seamen from both nations assisted one another in the disaster that cost 150 lives. Ownership of the islands was later settled by treaty.

-The USS Panay, an American gunboat on patrol in the Yangtse River in China, was attacked and sunk by Japanese planes in 1938.

-The USS Greer, a destroyer on convoy escort duty, was attacked and damaged by a German U-boat on Sept. 4, 1941. The incident caused President Roosevelt to order American vessels on this so-called neutrality patrol to ″shoot on sight″ any hostile craft attacking ships under their escort.

Subsequently, the U.S. destroyer Kearney was attacked by a U-boat after the American ship began dropping depth charges. And the USS Reuben James was sunk by a submarine.

-The destroyers USS Maddox and USS C. Turner Joy, on patrol off the coast of Vietnam, were attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on Aug. 2 and 4, 1964. The incident led to U.S. bombing, and Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizing increased U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia.

-The USS Liberty was attacked by Israeli warplanes on June 8, 1967 while on patrol in the Mediterranean. The attack on the intelligence-gathering vessel killed 34 sailors and injured 171 others.

-USS Pueblo, an intelligence-gathering ship operating off the coast of Korea, was captured by North Korean forces in 1968. The officers and crew were imprisoned for nearly a year before being released.

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