Cuban Missle Crisis
Memorandum From the Chairman of the Planning Subcommittee of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (Rostow) to President Kennedy


Washington, October 24, 1962.

Representatives of State and Defense, the Attorney General, and Mr. Lovett, met to consider the course of action to be followed with respect to the Soviet vessels which have altered course (Group A), and those vessels still proceeding towards Cuba (Group B). With respect to Group A, it is recommended:

1. That the Department of Defense intercept, trail, and photograph, but not interfere with, such vessels. The object is to record the fact of their turnaround and, to the extent possible, the character of their cargo.

With respect to Group B, it is recommended that:

1. They be stopped and searched in accordance with the Proclamation;

2. That the order to search be determined by the order of their operational availability to our forces;

3. Should a vessel refuse to comply with orders to stop, we should proceed to execute the terms of the Proclamation with special attention to the minimum use of force, given the likelihood that their cargoes will prove innocent.

It is recommended that a Department of Defense spokesman announce that:

1. Some of the Bloc vessels proceeding towards Cuba appear to have altered course;

2. No intercepts have yet been necessary;

3. Other vessels are proceeding towards Cuba and will be intercepted in accordance with the Proclamation.

On a background basis, it will be explained that those vessels which altered course were those we had reason to believe contained offensive weapons; but that inspection of other vessels is required, now and in the future, until offensive weapons and installations are removed from Cuba, because such vessels could contain essential components for offensive weapons.

W. W. R.(1)

1 Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials. Back

Source: Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, WWRostow. Top Secret; Sensitive.

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.