Gulf Of Tonkin Incident Essay Research Paper

Gulf Of Tonkin Incident Essay, Research Paper

In the early morning hours of of July 31, 1964 the US Navy Destroyer, called

Maddox (DD-731) began a patrol, called a DESOTO patrol, along the coast of

North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. The main goal of the mission was to gather

information about the coastal defense forces. It was thought that the North

Viatnamese coastal defenses would be active, so it would be a perfect opportunity

to observe, because a number of covert operations were being carried out against

the North Vietnamese coast around this time. These operations, were carried out

by moderate-sized vessels based at Danang.

Around midnight on the night of July 30-31, raiders from Danang bombed

two of North Vietnam’s islands off shore, Hon Me and Hon Ngu. On the

afternoon of August 2, when the Maddox was not far from Hon Me, the North

Viatnamese retaliated by attacking the Maddox with three torpedo boats on August

2 1964. The attack was unsuccessful, though one bullet from a heavy machinegun

on one of the torpedo boats did hit the destroyer. This is sometimes referred to as

the “first attack.” On August 4th, the Maddox and another destroyer, the U.S.S.

Turner Joy, believed they were under attack and radioed two nearby U.S. Airrcraft

Carriers, the Ticonderoga and the Constellation, for reataliatory strikes that were

to be carried out. There were more raids on the night of August 3-4, this time

shelling two points on the North Vietnamese mainland. The destroyers did not

participate; the raids were carried out by the boats from Danang.

Late on the afternoon of August 4, the two destroyers headed away from the

North Vietnamese coast toward the middle of the Gulf of Tonkin. That night, they

began picking up what appeared to be high-speed vessels on their radar. They

believed they were being attacked, and opened fire. Most of the supposed

attacking vessels, however, appeared only on the radar of the TURNER JOY, not

the radar of the MADDOX. Some men on the destroyers decided later that what

had appeared on the radar had just been ghost images; others think the radar

images were genuine torpedo boats attacking them. This is referred to as the

“second attack.”

The following afternoon, aircraft from two US aircraft carriers, the

Ticonderoga and the Constellation, carried out retalliation airstrikes. The targets

for the most part were vessels patrolling the coastof the North Vietnamese Navy,

but a major petroleum storage facility at the town of Vinh was also hit, and in fact

the destruction of this facility was the most important accomplishment of the


The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was overwhelmingly passed on August 7th,

which basically gave President Johnson to use all the neccessary measures

possible to deal with the on going problems in Vietnam.The Johnson

administration had been wanting to get such a resolution from the Congress, and

the Tonkin Gulf incidents made a good excuse to do just that; the Tonkin Gulf

incidents made a good excuse. It does not appear, however, that the incidents had

been deliberately concocted in order to provide the excuse.


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