The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas on January 31, 1969 · Page 7
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The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas · Page 7

Baytown, Texas
Issue Date:
Friday, January 31, 1969
Page 7
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13 "iLl 9 O« r^ll Fr^«y. January 31, 1969 *> togtmm 1 "f 8 ter Shi P Ski PP er Believes In Intelligence Craft Arms kipper of a sister Ate tn H?!? ?JL b L?Z lB !: " Y °" m ° re ™ e to P™* 6 ».»*nin«5"t «to- tot There was no help available time of an incident. The 6th Air communications. .. with CINC- headauart^ th.» ^ j. MMM h«« «,».„»»...•.«• » r,,... now k «, CORONADO, Calif. The skipper of a aster ship to the USS Pueblo says he still believes in the concept of lightly armed intelligence craft but he wouldn't again want to take one near Red China or North Korea. Cmdr. Charles R. Clark, who commanded the Banner, outlined to a Navy court of inquiry this week a story that in some ways paratled the experience of Cmdr. Lloyd Bucher and the Pueblo—except the Banner was not seized by North Koreans and its crew held captive for 11 months. He did not disagree when Butcher's attorney prefaced a question by saying: "You more than any other man can say, There but for the grace of God go I' when you look at Pete Bucher." Clark took the stand in open session-the first in four days- after Rear Adm. Frank. L. Johnson, who supervised the Pueblo, said he had no forces under his direct command to provide emergency help when North Korean gunboats surrounded her a year ago and that planes and ships from other commands were unavailable or too far away. Johnson said the Pueblo's two .50-caliber machine guns "did not appear to me to provide a significant defense capability." The court goes into closed session today id hear classified information. Johnson, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces—Japan at the time, said planes could not operate out of Japan because of an agreement with that country forbid ing use of Japan-based aircraft in engagements with unfriendly forces. After Johnson described the forces available to him, Rear Adm. Marshall White of the five-admiral court said: "Then we really had a contingency plan to use forces that didn't ex- ist. There was no help available for her?" Answer: "No forces were available to me." Q. "Then there were no forces readily available to come to the assistance of the Pueblo as 1 understand your on-call arrangement with the 5th Air Force and the 7th Fleet?" A. "They (the forces) were instructed to go into action any time they received word from any source that assistance was needed. But each command had to go back as far as CINC-PAC (Commander In Chief For the Pacific) to get final authorization to use these forces at the time of an incident. The 5th Air Force was the only military organization which had available within a reasonable distance any aircraft—not from Japan but primarily from Okinawa and possibly from South Korea, although it was somewhat difficult at least at my level to determine what availability there might be in South Korea." Q. "Okinawa was so far it would not have been too feasible?" A. "As you are aware, the distance is 500 miles from Okinawa. Q. Rear Adm. Edward Grimm: "Were there any communications. .. with CINC- PAC during the incident?" A. "The telephone was used. I believe the first call was about 2:20 p.m. to CINC-PAC, and I was advised that the 5th Air Force reported delay of possibly about three hours before they could have aircraft in the area." Johnson said he was not in favor of arming intelligence vessels because "we had successfully carried out 16 missions in unarmed status.. .and I did consider they (the guns) might well be provocative." He agreed with Bucher, regarding communications with headquarters, that the Japanese mountains made it hard to link frequencies. He said he did not consider this critical: "There was no instance that at any time this created a critical problem in operations." The Banner was the first of its type of intelligence ships; the Pueblo the second. E. Miles Harvey, civilian attorney for Bucher, asked Clark: "Do you have any recommendations or thoughts or anything else that might bear on this investigation by this board?" "Armament and weapons and how they are used have possibly been overemphasized," Clark said. "In my personal opinion, these ships should not have been armed. "When you're going down the street in your home town, what size of a pocket knife should you carry against a robber who has think protective I guns?. "I don't forces would do any good, don't think they could have got ten there in time to be of any appreciable help." Clark said he felt future intelligence ships should be faster and have compartmented construction so the ship would float in case of a ramming. Clark now is range-safety officer at the Pacific missile range at Point Mugu, Calif. Clark said he had been harassed by Chinese and Russian vessels. The longest over-water bridge jn Europe is the Storstrominen bridge in Denmark, which is 10,567 feet long. 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