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This article deals with only the undisputed facts regarding USS Liberty. It does not attempt to describe the events of 8 June 1967, when it was attacked by the Israel Defense Forces. See the USS Liberty incident.
USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
USS Liberty (GTR-5)
Career (USA)
Laid down: 23 February 1945
Acquired: 4 May 1945
Commissioned: 1 December 1964
Decommissioned: 1 June 1968
Struck: 1 June 1970
Homeport: Norfolk, Virginia
Fate: Damaged beyond economical repair by Israeli attack
Badge: Insignia of USS Liberty (AGTR-5), in use in 1967
General characteristics
Displacement: 7725 tons (light displacement)
Length: 139 m (456 ft)
Beam: 18.9 m (62 ft)
Draft: 7 m (23 ft)
Propulsion: Westinghouse steam turbines, single shaft, 8500 horsepower (6.3 MW)
Speed: 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h) maximum sustained, 21 knots emergency
Range: 12,500 nm at 12 knots
Complement: 358 officers and men
Armament: four M2 .50-caliber (~12.7 mm) machine guns

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was a Belmont-class technical research ship that was attacked by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1967 Six-Day War.

History[edit | edit source]

A Victory Ship, her keel was laid down on 23 February 1945, as Simmons Victory, a Maritime Commission-type (VC2-S-AP3) hull, under a Maritime Commission contract at Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation of Portland, Oregon. She was delivered to the Maritime Commission on 4 May 1945, and chartered to the Pacific Far East Line of San Francisco. She operated in commercial trade until 1958, Simmons Victory was returned to the Maritime Administration for layup in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Olympia, Washington.

In February 1963, the Navy acquired Simmons Victory and converted her to a "Miscellaneous Auxiliary" ship at Willamette Iron and Steel of Portland. On 8 June she was renamed the Liberty and given hull classification symbol AG-168. On 1 April 1964, she was reclassified a Technical Research Ship (AGTR-5). She was commissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, in December.

National Security Agency missions[edit | edit source]

In February 1965, Liberty steamed from the west coast to Norfolk, Virginia, where she was further outfitted (cost: US$20 million) to suit her for a mission of supporting the National Security Agency by collecting and processing foreign communications and other electronic emissions of possible national defense interests.

In June Liberty began her first deployment, to waters off the west coast of Africa. She carried out several more operations during the next two years, and went to the Mediterranean Sea in 1967. During the Six-Day War between Israel and several Arab nations, she was sent to collect electronic intelligence in the eastern Mediterranean.

Israeli attack[edit | edit source]

National Cryptologic Memorial. Many of the names are from 8 June 1967

On the afternoon of 8 June 1967, while in international waters off the northern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, Liberty was attacked and damaged by the Israel Defense Forces; 34 crewmen were killed and 173 wounded. Although severely damaged with a 39-foot-wide (12 m) by 24-foot-high (7.3 m) hole amidships and a twisted keel, Liberty’s crew kept her afloat, and she was able to leave the area under her own power. The incident has become a subject of controversy and debate, with many books written on the topic.[1]

After the attack[edit | edit source]

She was escorted to Valletta, Malta, by units of the Sixth Fleet and was given temporary repairs. After the repairs were completed, Liberty returned to the United States on 27 July 1967. She was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 28 June 1968. She was laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet of Norfolk until December 1970, when she was transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. In 1973, she was sold for scrapping to the Boston Metals Company of Baltimore, Maryland.

The USS Liberty is listed in the online Naval Vehicle Register, where more details about the ship can be found.[2]

Crew awards[edit | edit source]

USS Liberty was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and Commander (later Captain) William McGonagle, Liberty’s commanding officer, received the Medal of Honor.

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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