Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-three years ago today, the 11th day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 26, 1962, Marucia, a Lebanese freighter chartered by the Soviet Union, became the first ship to be stopped and searched at the blockade line by the United States Navy.
Although having declared only a cargo of paper, sulfur and spare truck parts, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., a destroyer named for President John F. Kennedy's brother who was killed in World War II, stopped and searched the Soviet leased vessel which was manned primarily by a Greek crew.
White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger issued a statement saying the Soviets were "rapidly continuing their construction of missile support and launch facilities."
Michael Dobbs writes that JFK said on October 25...
"We've got to prove sooner or later that the blockade works" and added that the selection of the Marucla as the first ship to stop was because it was almost certain not to contain missiles.
"The stage was set for...'the worst day' of the crisis known as 'Black Saturday.' Events were about to accelerate dramatically. The world was hurtling toward a nuclear conflict."
"'Let Us Begin Anew', An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency, " by Gerald S. and Deborah H. Strober, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1993.
"One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War," Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008.
USAF Photo (1962)