The Liberty Incident

US Navy Court of Inquiry

US Navy regulations require an investigation of all incidents involving any death or injury or loss of, or damage to, Navy property. The Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Admiral John S. McCain Jr., ordered a Court of Inquiry to be convened on the Liberty attack. Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd Jr., who was then serving as Assistant Chief of Staff, Logistics, for the Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Southern Europe, was named president of the court. Captain Bert M. Atkinson Jr., USN, a Naval Academy graduate, and Captain Bernard J. Lauff, USN, a highly respected veteran of Wake Island in World War II, were designated members.

The court convened in London at forty-six minutes before midnight on June 10, 1967, two days and a few hours after the attack. Testimony was taken in London from Captain Leonard Robert Raish, the Assistant Chief of Staff for the Commander in Chief U.S. Naval Forces Europe. The court remained in session until 0250 June 11. Rear Admiral Kidd then traveled to Souda Bay, Crete, and boarded the Liberty at sea on June 12 while she was en route to Valletta, Malta. The other members of the court met the ship on June 14, 1967, at the port of Valletta, Malta, and at 0730 the court went into session aboard the Liberty.

The inquiry took testimony from nineteen witnesses; transcribed testimony ran 158 pages; forty-nine exhibits, consisting of hundreds of documents and pictures, were received into evidence.

The court completed taking evidence in Malta on June 15 and returned to London, where it took additional evidence. The court was closed at 1645 London time on June 16. The court concluded its deliberations two days later and presented its fifty-two findings together with the record of its proceedings to Admiral McCain.

The entire record of proceedings, including endorsements, follows. The Judge Advocate General numbered the pages. Those numbers end with 727. There is a mistake in the numbering and this author renumbered the pages in large black numbers. The pages number 730. Page 55 apparently does not exist.

The pictures in the record are scanned in black and white and many are not clear. The Judge Advocate General provided 139 images on a CD which are available on the page "Photographs taken during and after the attack".

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