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U.S. Naval Quarantine Line During the Cuban Missile Crisis: October 24

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The surface quarantine line was established at 2PM GMT on October 24, 1962, as an arc 500 miles from Cape Maysi, Cuba. That range was chosen to be out of range of the Soviet IL-28 bombers based in Cuba.

The initial line was to be kept by 12 destroyers from the Second Fleet’s Task Force 136, a task force established specifically to implement the quarantine. In addition, the aircraft carrier USS Essex formed the foundation of an anti-submarine warfare carrier group, supplemented by aerial anti-submarine warfare squadrons based in Bermuda and Puerto Rico. By the time the quarantine was finally lifted, the quarantine line had involved an aircraft carrier, two cruisers, 22 destroyers, and two guided missile frigates on two quarantine lines known as “Walnut” and “Chestnut.” (The Department of the Navy has a list of the ships and units which received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Participating in the Cuban Missile, 1962.)

Data Sources: Chief of Naval Operations, “The Naval Quarantine of Cuba, 1963,” in CNO, box 10, Post 1946 Report File, Naval Historical Center; and Curtis A. Utz, Cordon of Steel: The U.S. Navy and the Cuban Missile Crisis (Washington DC: Naval Historical Center, 1993).