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Cuban Naval Battles

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Post 05 Jan 2018, 20:52
Since the Cuban Revolution, the new communist government faced a long-lasting series of direct confrontations on sea. Such actions of sabotage, seizures and landing attempts were at first directed by the American CIA but after the failure at Playa Giròn the American government progressively abandoned the number of armed organizations that turned more desperate toward the ’70s (targeting mostly civilian fishing boats). While the Cuban Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria) and the naval component of the Guardafronteras often engaged the enemy (with some successes and some losses), the Cuban intelligence (DGI) effectively infiltrated and disabled the armed groups from inside, quelling their activity.
The fall of Soviet Union and the economic difficulties saw a resurgence of attacks, but many of these focused on bombing blasts and random strafing of touristic places: combined with local terrorist actions in Florida further alienated the support from US Governments. The last attempted raids in late ‘90s were swiftly dealt once again with effective use of intelligence and coordination with ground troops and patrol vessels.

NOTE: This work focus on the actions of the Cuban Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria) and naval units of the Border Guard (Tropas Guardafronteras).
While there are a number of pro-Cuban sources detailing incidents and attacks, sources are often contradictory over dates: this include also the sources of Miami-based groups.
Many unofficial or semi-official Cuban sources mix-up or switch months or even the exact year of some incidents!

DISCLAIMER: the Miami-based groups are often described by Cuban sources as “counter-revolutionaries” (early phase) or “pirates” (later phase) or terrorists (modern times). Description of their naval as “piracy” is technically incorrect (no aim to rob or seize boats for monetary purpose) and considering how such attacks primarily aimed against civilian targets, they can rather be fully defined as acts of terrorism. Interestingly, one of the most notorious groups (“Alpha-66”) currently designed also by western sources as a terrorist organization despite being backed by CIA at least until 1971.

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4 March 1960
French merchant La Coubre (4310tons) exploded inside Havana’s harbor while unloading 76tons of ammunitions for the Cuban Army.
The explosion caused 101 killed (including 6 French sailors) and more than 200 wounded: the Cuban government suspected an act of sabotage by CIA, in connection with the former revolutionary commander William Alexander Morgan (originally American citizen) and who was later executed as consequence of this and other operations (he was a staunch anti-communist).
The worldwide-famous photo of Comandante Ernesto Chè Guevara was took during the funeral of victims: he was present during the blast and provided medical help to some wounded.
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The sinking achieved little, and the large number of victims and the subsequent Cuban reaction rather consolidated the support for the Revolution.


9 January 1961
The motor-schooner El Pensativo intercepted and sunk on sea by unidentified armed boat. 4 men died (apparently machine-gunned on sea). Modern Cuban sources reveals they were Cuban intelligence agents ready infiltrate the counter-revolutionaries in Miami. Likely, a CIA-controlled boat attacked El Pensativo.
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Photo of the boat, from Cuban site EcuRed


19 January 1961
Cuban ground forces prevented an infiltration landing in the province of Pinar del Rio. No details about this action.


13 March 1961
First attack from a speedboat: a strafing attack close Santiago de Cuba damaged the Hermanos Dìaz oil refinery and killing one Cuban Navy sailor (apparently the first Cuban Navy casualty).


17 – 20 April 1961
Battle of Playa Giron
The Cuban Navy did not played a role during the failed CIA-led attempted invasion of Cuba.
The invasion force (Brigade 2506) ferried by five former cargo ships that has been converted as troop and supply transports: Atlantico, Caribe, Houston, Riò Escondido and Lake Charles.
Additionally there were also two American-crewed landing ship LCI class, Blagar and Barbara J. The US Navy provided distant escort from aircraft carrier USS Essex and a group of destroyers.
During the early stage of the landing, the Cuban auxiliary patrol boat SV-3 sunk by ground fire: the four crewmembers disembarked from the wrecked boat and retreated firing with a machinegun.
A previous air raid by CIA-directed B-26 bombers inflicted only partial losses to the Cuban Air Force, and the invading force paid the price: a Sea Fury and a T-33 fighter damaged Houston with bombs and rockets. The ship beached and was lost, with most of the medical supplies of the invading force. Barbara J. recovered some survivors from Houston but when the ship distanced, the panicked men on the wreck opened fire on their comrades aboard the LCI. A couple of CIA B-26 bombers targeted and sunk the Cuban submarine chaser El Baire on Isle of Pines (2 KIA, 11 WIA).
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Photo of the ship before the Revolution. Ex- American PC-790.
Cuban Sea Furies and T-33s achieved a second successful strike sinking Rio Escondido: the ship was carrying ammunition and aviation fuel, in addition to acting as a radio station.
Survivors of the Rio Escondido onboard LCI Blagar briefly mutinied against the CIA members when they were ordered to land.
A Cuban B-26 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire coming from the LCI Blagar.
Toward the end of the first day of Invasion, the Cuban Air Force won air-superiority and definitely crippled the enemy naval ability to resupply their invading force: both Atlantico and Caribe attempted to sail away from the battle, US Navy intercepted the Atlantico and forced the ship to sail back to continue the invasion plan, but Caribe successfully fled.
On the second day of battle (18 April) only Blagar and Barbara J continued resupply missions but their action was clearly not enough and the ground battle evolved quickly to the inevitable conclusion. On the third day of battle (19 April) Blagar and Barbara J operated only by night to avoid air attacks, by 20 April the battle was over with the crushing defeat of the invading force and the victory for the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces.
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A significant photo of the battle: Fidel Castro was personally engaged in combat on this T-34 tank and fired a shot against the wreck of Houston because some armed men were still present on it. The photo was took on the moment Fidel Castro left the tank to take command of a SU-100 with greater fire range that successfully hit the wreck. This is the only confirmed instance of a communist country's leader directly engaged in a warfare related to naval fighting (anti-ship shelling from ground), preceded only from the direct involvement of the Red Army commander Lev Trockij during the Russian Civil War in Volga River operations link = viewtopic.php?f=149&t=53513 ).


7 May 1961
The Cuban navy auxiliary patrol boat R-43 (former Vosper-type motor torpedo boat) went missing in action north of Mariel. All 17 crewmember lost (including commander Andrés González Lines).
It is suspected an armed attack; however there is no clear claim by the different groups. A Cuban investigation even raised a possibility of a submarine attack by a US Navy unit: the day before, the patrol boat SV-15 claimed to have observed a submarine). The claim is interesting from a military point of view, because if it will be ever confirmed could be one of the few post-WW2 successful actions by submarine. However so far the most likely reason of the loss (without a claim by Miami-based group) could be some kind of incident.


13 February 1962
First reported attack on Cuban fishing boats by speedboats: Sigma-1 and Sigma-4 attacked but no casualties.


30 April 1962
Cuban merchant Bahia de Nepe attacked and sunk by Guatemalan Air Force. The Guatemalan regime claimed the ship was carrying a shipload of weapons for the guerrilla. Currently there are no information from Cuba, concerning a denial or a confirmation of the Guatemalan’s version of events.


12 May 1962
The MRR (Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria) speedboat Susan Ann (armed with 2 – 12.7mm) directly engaged in combat and damaged the Cuban auxiliary patrol boat SV-28 (3 KIA, 5 WIA). Cuban sailors had little chance to fire back at enemy due speed of the enemy attack (most crew wounded in the first stage and later worked to suppress a fire onboard). “Susan Ann” retreated without taking the chance to finish the damaged vessel. It was a rare enemy surface engagement committed directly against a properly rated boat of the Cuban Navy.


24 June 1962
American soldiers from the US Guantanamo base opened ground fire against a Cuban fishing boat, killing one sailor.


10 September 1962
A “Comandos-L” speedboat strafed the grounded Cuban ship San Pasqual (used as a molasses storage) and the British merchant Newlane (7012 GRT) that was loading a cargo of sugar in Caibairen harbor. Both vessels received only machineguns hits.


5 October 1962
An infiltration attempt prevented, close Baracoa. No details about this action.


8 October 1962
Attempted attack at Isabela de Sagua by 20 men landed from boats. Unclear details.


13 October 1962
The Cuban auxiliary patrol boat (former pleasure boat with armed men) Cima-8 attacked and sunk into Cardenas Bay by speedboat armed with 22mm. 2 sailors swam away from the sinking point, while other 2 members of the Militia were captured (and released 30 days later).
There are conflicting reports, because according an alternate account (by Miami counter-revolutionaries), they boarded the vessel after their own boat was mortally hit and sunk, sailing back away with the seized boat. However, this account mistakenly give the date as “August 1962” and seems less accurate.
Cuban sources describe the boat just as a pleasure craft, but appears reasonable that (due the high-conflict situation) the Militia carried onboard weapons.


13 February 1963
Cuban fishing boats Sigma-2 and Sigma-15 attacked by speedboats. Both fishing boats seized, crew not kidnapped (two sailors wounded). These are effectively the first losses of Cuban fishing boats, and the attackers seized them for future use (later attacks would ends in scuttling of vessels).


21 February 1963
Unidentified Cuban Navy patrol boat re-seized the boats Sigma-2 and Sigma-15 when used by their captors to ferry a load of weapons on Cuba. 2 killed and 8 prisoners. Details are uncertain: these are effectively the first naval successes of the Cuban Navy. Most likely, motor torpedo boats of project123K or project183 involved (Cuba received batches of both classes in 1962).


19 March 1963
“Alpha-66” and “Second Front” made a coordinated attack with two speedboats (armed with 20mm and machineguns, 12-15 crewmembers) attacking the Soviet merchant Lvov in Isabela de Sagua harbor. Soviet merchant suffered minor damages and guards on the ship wounded two terrorists. Other 6 Soviets wounded in a nearby camp on shore after the enemy strafed it.


27 March 1963
“Comandos-L” speedboat Phoenix (20mm and machineguns) attacked Soviet merchant Baku (cargo: 10.000tons of sugar), inflicting minor damage with an explosive charge attacked on the hull.
Many sources claim the ship sunk, but damage was small. Soviet Union demanded compensation from the United States.


1 May 1963
Cuban cabotage schooner Joven Amelia (cargo of food) attacked close Guantanamo base by American destroyer USS Harold J.Ellison: a deliberate ramming accident resulted despite the Cuban attempt to avoid it. Apparently, it was the only hostile collision/incident ever occurred to a Cuban vessel with the US Navy.
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USS Harold J.Ellison was a Gearing-class destroyer


25 June 1963
Unidentified Cuban Navy patrol boat briefly engaged with an enemy speedboat, suffering 1 WIA.
The actual battle lasted for 2 hours, with unknown effect on the speedboat. The following day, other Cuban Navy vessels dispatched to hunt the enemy (one carrying onboard 65 armed police officers) but found no target.


8 - 14 August 1963
Action off Cayo Anguila
Unidentified units of the Cuban Navy intercepted and seized back the two fishing boat off Cayo Anguila on 14 August. Four members of Miami-based group captured, while 15 sailors liberated.
There is some confusion with Cuban sources: but apparently, these fishing boats (a third one escaped) originally seized on 8 August. Differently from the similar action in February, the enemy apparently had no time to press in service the two boats as done for Sigma-2 and Sigma-15.


21 October 1963
Action off Cape San Antonio
A significant battle occurred when the CIA mothership “Rex” ( a former submarine chaser) attempted to land a team of 12 selected raiders (“Commandos Mambises”) on Cuban coast near cape San Antonio (Pinar de Rìo Province). Cuban intelligence knew about the raid in advance due infiltration.
The Cuban armed forces ambushed the team with a coordinated attack.
Raiders attempted landing with two 6-meters fiberglass motorboats (both armed with machine-gun): each of them landed an inflated raft, but Cuban troops on shore initiated the fight shredding one raft (killing the raiders on it) and capturing the other men disembarked on shore.
Cuban Navy group (Commander Rolando Días Astaraín) rushed to attack the enemy with four submarine chasers (project122bis) and three motor torpedo boats (project 183).
One speedboat suffered damage on rudder, slowed down and captured by a Cuban motor torpedo boat.
Occupants of the second speedboat blocked on sea the Liberian-flagged merchant G.Louis (32500 tons), sailing from Jamaica to Texas with a cargo of bauxite and embarked on it, abandoning their speedboat on sea (later seized by Cuban vessels). Cuban Air Force believed the merchant to be a mother-ship and MiG-15bis fighters (with backing of Il-4R armed with 250kg bombs and 2 Mi-4 helicopters) damaged the enemy-controlled ship. Soviet advisor involved in air operation’s direction from ground.
US Navy F-4 Phantos-II flew to help the merchant but did not directly engaged the Cuban fighters. After realizing the mistake, Cuban fighters properly identified motership Rex and chased her away from Cuban waters.
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Photo of the "Rex", a 110ft class submarine chaser. Apart “Rex” a sister-ship was operative too named “Leda”. Both officially owned by a CIA-led dummy company. Weapons included 2 40mm guns, a recoilless rifle, 2 20mm guns and machine guns.


23 December 1963
Cuban motor-torpedo boat LT-85 (project183) sunk in Siguanea harbor by limpet-mine (3 KIA, 18 WIA).
Attack claimed by “Comandos Mambises” as revenge for the Action off Cape San Antonio
The boat was indeed the only modern proper modern military warship fully confirmed as lost due enemy action, after submarine chaser El Baire sunk in 1961.
Some Cuban sources wrongly say the attack occurred 27 December also wrongly identify the ship as “LT-385”. Also there is great confusion about her class: many source say project123K, but she was actually project183.
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Photo of sister-ship LT-88, a Cuban project183 Soviet-made motor torpedo boat, successor of project 123K.


28 March 1964
The Cuban Navy was instrumental for the capture of the counter-revolutionary leader Emilio Carretero, of the “Escambray guerrilla” operating into Cuba. An unidentified Cuban vessel (in cooperation with the Intelligence) organized a trap, posing as US vessel on the purposed mission to bring him away from Cuba to safety in Miami. To deceive the enemy, a couple of English-speaking men spoke in English “offering whiskey” and showing-off stereotypical American behavior but the trick almost discovered when a sailor accidentally fell overboard and spoke Spanish, in the end the leader and his escort party was successfully captured.
Emilio Carretero subsequently executed.


8 June 1964
Cuban fishing boat (still unidentified) attacked by speedboats. Three crewmembers wounded.


10 June 1964
A ground patrol of Cuban Navy members attacked on shore (1 KIA, 2 POW) by disembarked men from a speedboat. The terrorists departed and seized on sea the fishing boat Elvira.


13 June 1964
Cuban fishing boat Armando-II sunk by speedboat. Two crewmembers wounded.


1 August 1964
A sabotage on Cuban merchant ship Manuel Ascunce Domenech killed 1 sailor.
Unclear details.


9 August 1964
An explosion by bomb placed on the hull of the Cuba merchant María Teresa (1000tons) in Montreal (Canada).
The ship was carrying a cargo of food for children, the attack (claimed by the “Movimiento Nacionalista Cubano“) caused no real damage to the vessel. Terrorists asserted they “stole documents” from the ship, but no actual boarding.


31 August 1964
An observation point of the Cuban Navy strafed by speedboat. No casualties.


8 October 1964
Cuban fishing boat Carlos Reitor attacked by speedboat. 1 sailor wounded.


9 October 1964
Cuban fishing boat Hecta-I sunk by speedboat. Crew abandoned on sea.


13 September 1964
Spanish merchant Sierra Aranzazu (2984 tons) (cargo of food and toys for kids) shelled by two armed boats Monty and Gitana (Swift class, both directly supplied by CIA, 40mm and 20mm weapons) of the MRR (Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria). 3 Spanish sailors killed and 17 wounded.
Survived crewmembers saved by Dutch merchant P.G. Thulin, the following day Cuban motor torpedo boats detected the burning ship and on 15 September, the tugs Ten de Octubre and Macabì extinguished the fire and towed her, under cover by MiG-15 fighters.
Interestingly, at the time Spain was under the American-backed fascist rule of Dictator Francisco Franco. Because of political closeness, Spanish authorities made only a mild complain to Americans but secretly demanded monetary compensation from CIA. Anti-fascist opposition exploited the attack to protest against the regime. As direct consequence, the American administration suspended and eventually stopped support to the MRR (Interestingly, the patrol boats were airlifted to Congo in a failed attempt to kill or capture Che Guevara in Lake Tanganyika).


?? January 1965
MRR patrol boats Monty and Gitana engaged two Cuban vessels at La Coloma. They attempted to communicate with a group of infiltrators previously landed to recover them, but the message was clearly a set-up trap. A reconnaissance Cuban plane followed the boats and attempted attacking but patrol boats successfully escaped to Nicaragua. Apparently it was the last significant naval action in Cuban waters committed by MRR.


17 May 1965
A speedboat (model V-2) seized during a failed infiltration attempt at Santa Cruz del Norte.
Unclear number of prisoners, scarce details about possible participation of naval forces.


13 November 1965
Cuban ground troops opened fire from the shore (near Havana) on speedboat during infiltration or strafing attack.


12 March 1966
Cuban fishing boats Lambda-2 and Lambda-17 attacked and sunk by speedboats (one named Santa Marina). Fate of sailors left undescribed by sources (either kidnapped or left the boats).


29 May 1966
Action of Monte Barreto
“Comandos-L” infiltrated two assassins to attempt murdering leader Fidel Castro but they were discovered close Havana and killed (interestingly, the CIA-linked assassin Hermino Diaz Garcia, currently suspected of involvement with the killing of American president J.F. Kennedy).
Cuban motor torpedo LT-128 and LT-141 (both project 123K) intercepted the speedboat (identified as a “Type V-20”, 23-feet long): a violent gunfire battle begun.
Flotilla commander Lt. José Téllez-Girón led the operation onboard LT-141.
LT-128 and LT-141 suffered minor damages due enemy fire (each of them had 1 WIA), and crew opened fire with light weapons at close range, until LT-128 scored mortal hits and sunk the speedboat.
“Comandos-L” commander Tony Cuesta lost his hand and his sight when attempting to launch a hand-grenade (he claimed it was during an attempt to scuttle the vessel, but this is likely wrong).
He was captured (eventually released, likely with a secret deal) alongside a second man, while two others died in the battle.
Two Cuban submarine chasers (project201M) and other motor torpedo boats on sea did not joined the battle in time. An Il-14 plane provided support and cover to LT-128 and LT-141 during the battle.
The action was the only Cuban naval success with direct sinking (rather than seizure) of the enemy target during a proper naval fight.
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Sister-ship LT-98, Cuba received twelve boats of this class. Project 123K motor torpedo boat carried a WW2-era design and sucessfully engaged enemy warships during their service in the Chinese Navy = viewtopic.php?f=149&t=50411


16 April 1966
Mutiny onboard Cuban missile-boat LC-274 (project183R) to attempt defection. Another mutineer onboard sister-ship LC-271 damaged the radar to prevent help to LC-271. The mutineers murdered the commander, but the second-in-command (died of wounds after the incident) took a M-52 rifle and wrestled control of the ship. One of the mutineer jumped in water and went missing (died on sea). In the end, the defection plot failed and three mutineers executed.
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Photo of ship LC-271: both were project183R


27 June 1966
Cuban fishing boat Alberto boarded by speedboat and one sailor killed.


21 April 1968
Cuban fishing boats Lambda-72 and Lambda-100 attacked and sunk by speedboats. Unclear if sailors kidnapped or allowed to return to coast, no casualties reported.


Unclear day (first week) January 1970
“Alpha-66” attempted to land men using two boats but hit by tropical storm and one boat capsized (other boat was rescued by Americans from Guantanamo bay).
One man died: “Alpha-66” was unaware about his identity (he was an agent of the Cuban intelligence).


10 May 1970
Cuban fishing boats Plataforma-1 and Plataforma-4 sunk (each 37tons of size) by “Alpha-66”.
11 sailors brought to a small island of Bahamas and later recovered after a week.
Some months later, Plataforma-1 and Plataforma-4 lifted, repaired and returned to service.


10 October 1970
Cuban fishing boats Aguja and Plataforma-4 attacked by speedboats and sunk. 11 sailors abandoned on sea (one survived despite being stabbed at throat) and rescued by Cuban helicopters three days later.


12 October 1971
Attack of Boca de Samá
Speedboats used to strafe and attack coastal military and civilian targets on Cuba, but the raid against Boca de Samá village (close Banes) reached a peak of brutality with heavy consequences. Two “Alpha-66” speedboats strafed the village, killing two men (a member of State Department and a guard, both disarmed) and wounding 4 civilians (including 2 children). The attack provoked a strong political and social response and the Cuba Navy initiated an operation to hunt the “Alpha-66” mother ships.


5 December 1971
The Cuban Navy achieved one of two subsequent significant coups to defeat the seaborne capabilities of “Alpha-66”.
Four Cuban submarine chasers (project201M) intercepted the mother ship “Layla Express” close Bahamas water (100 miles from Cuba): CS-309 boarded and seized the ship. 14 crewmembers captured. The ship privately owned and carried a Panama’s flag.
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Photo of sister-ship CS-649. The Soviet-made class provided decisive in the double seizures of December. Interestingly, the North Korean Navy appreciated this class while China and Vietnam opted for smaller vessels.


15 December 1971
A second important success against “Alpha-66” small naval fleet.
Once again, project201M submarine chasers in action: CS-307 strafed, rammed and finally boarded the mother ship “Johnny Express”. (11 crewmembers captured; three of them wounded including the captain). Onboard “Johnny Express” Cuban sailors also discovered a speedboat.
The double seizures in December 1971 was a serious blow to the naval capabilities of “Alpha-66”.
Obviously, many sources of the time denied the connection of ships with the terrorist organization. Later revelations however give fully confirmation, suggesting also the ships were manned by CIA (this explains the quick release of all the crewmembers). Interestingly the secret deal for the release mediated by Manuel Noriega (the Panamanian CIA asset, essential for the South American drug-traffics of the American intelligence office, later placed as ruthless dictator of the small nation and eventually toppled by the same Americans when his usefulness come to an end).
Both “Layla Express” and “Johnny Express” ultimately released and went to Panama. Their fate is unknown, but Cuban Navy intentionally made no maintenance or repairs and both vessels were prone to sinking (likely sold for scrapping). Anyhow, neither of them returned to her terrorist “career”.


8 October 1972
A speedboat (model FV-28) with two men attempting to infiltrate into the Oriente Province captured. It is unclear if action involved Cuban naval forces or only ground patrols.


28 January 1973
Cuban fishing boat Plataforma-1 attacked on sea by armed speedboat. Some damages inflicted, one sailor wounded.


11 September 1973
During the CIA-backed coup in Chile, against the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende, the Chilean destroyer Blanco Encalada opened fire against the Cuban fishing ship Playa Larga chasing it away from Chilean waters.
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Photo of destroyer Cochrane (sister-ship of Blanco Encalada) both ex-US Navy Fletcher-class


4 October 1973
Two armed boats of the FLNC (“Frente de Liberación Nacional Cubano”) sunk the fishing boats Cayo Largo-17 and Cayo Largo-34. One man killed (member of the national militia) and the others abandoned on sea without water or food, but successfully recovered by Cuban helicopters.


1 August 1974
Unidentified units of the Cuban Navy intercepted and seized the speedboat “Malù” (Thunderboat design) close Boca Ciega, capturing three members of the FNCA (“Fundación Nacional Cubano Americana”), with weapons and explosives onboard. It is unclear the identity of the Cuban boats involved: possibly motor torpedo boats of project183, due their high speed.


2 November 1975
Soviet cruise-ship S.S. Maksim Gorkiy while at anchor in Puerto Rico with cruise passengers onboard suffered two explosions on the hull, with light damages. No group officially claimed the attack.


28 December 1975
Another attack in Puerto Rico, on the Soviet cruise-ship S.S. Maksim Gorkiy while at anchor in San Juan. A hand grenade launched on the ship, wounding a sailor and causing little damage. This time the attack openly claimed by Miami-based terrorists.


12 February 1976
Soviet tanker Dhzordano Bruno (31294 GRT) attacked by speedboat while anchored in Bahamas.
No casualties and no damage.


6 April 1976
Cuban fishing boats Ferro-119 and Ferro-123 sunk by FLNC speedboat: one sailor killed and three wounded (one later died of wounds). Survivors on rafts saved by a Norwegian merchant (brought to Miami and then returned to Cuba) and by fishing boat Ferro-23. This was the last naval attack by Miami-based terrorists against Cuban fishing boats.


22 July 1977
The large Cuban fishing-vessel Rio Jobabo (2579 GRT) sunk in the Peruvian harbor of El Callao.
The ship sunk likely by explosive device planted into the ship or limpet mine. From 1968 to 1977 a socialist-oriented military junta governed Perù (a peculiarity in the South American Cold War scenario) remarked by a bloodless initial coup and subsequent social reform and opposition to the brutal US-backed Chilean dictatorship.


10 October 1977
The large Cuban fishing-vessel Rio Damuji (2579 GRT) damaged in the Peruvian harbor of El Callao. Damage done by explosive device into the ship or limpet mine. Interestingly, the ship is currently (2018) in service as converted patrol vessel in the Cuban Navy.
The real attackers of Rio Jobabo and Rio Damuji are unknown: with the weakening of Miami-based groups and the dwindling interest of CIA for such actions, the Chilean regime of general Pinochet is a likely culprit.


12 July 1979
Close Western Sahara, the Cuban tankers Morobobo and Gilberto Pico strafed by two Moroccan aircrafts, killing the captains of both vessels and wounding two other sailors of Gilberto Pico. At the time, Morocco engaged into a bloody war against the Polisario front, the Socialist-aligned resistance movement fighting for against the western-backed occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.


10 May 1980
Sinking of the Flamingo
The patrol ship HMBS Flamingo of the Royal Bahamas Defense Forces seized the two Cuban fishing boats Ferro-54 and Ferro-165 for supposedly fishing on their national waters. A couple of MiG-21 strafed the HMBS Flamingo sinking her (4 KIA, 3 WIA). The survivors, alongside the 8 Cuban fishermen reached the coast with the fishing boats: the next day MiG-21 made further distracting fly-by over the Bahamans Ragged Island’s only settlement (Duncan Town) while helicopters Mi-8 landed troops to recover the fishermen.
From a military point of view, the attack was a success but the Cuban Government admitted mistake and paid a compensation for political reasons claiming to have mistakenly identified the ship as “hijackers” (referring to the seizures of the past years).
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Photo of Flamingo before sinking, she was built by Vosper Thorneycroft.


17 September 1991
Two terrorists from a minor Miami-based group captured alongside their boat. It is unclear if ground troops or naval boats seized the boat. They revealed how drug-traffickers owned and operated the mother ship hired for supporting their own landing attempt.


4 July 1992
An armed boat tried to strafe location nearby Havana but chased away by Cuban patrol boats nearby Varadero until rescued by the US Coast Guard (after suffering technical problems). FBI released the men despite weapons and sensible material onboard.


2 April 1993
The Maltese flagged tanker Mykonos (mixed Cypriot and Cuban crew) (cargo of oil) machine-gunned by armed boat of by the “EAS” group, north of Matanzas. No casualties


11 November 1993
Three members of the “PUND” (Partido Unido Nacional Democratico) captured close Varadero. Cuban sources claim they intentionally surrendered, defecting from the group. Weapons, ammunition and the boat used for the landing captured. It is unclear if ground troops or naval boats seized the boat. Some pro-Cuban sources incorrectly describe the incident as happened in 1994.


8 August 1994
A Navy lieutenant assassinated while attempting to prevent the hijacking of the small auxiliary boat La Habana (he was unarmed). The murderer fled to Florida where he received no punishment for the crime.


15 October 1994
Seven members of the “PUND” captured at Cayo Santa Maria. After it disembarked, the group assassinated a civilian to attempt stealing his car.
It is unclear if Cuban boats seized the boat that carried the terrorists, or it was action by ground troops. Cayo Santa Maria is a small island connected with a road to the mainland: it is likely Cuban vessels attacked the terrorists from sea and disembarked troops. Possible Cuban boats involved are project1400E patrol boats or smaller crafts.


11 February 1996
An armed boat of the “PUND” opened fire from sea against a Hotel, but blocked and seized by the Cuban Border Guard naval units (3 captured). Terrorists threw off board their weapons (two assault rifles and a gun) before the capture. Possible Cuban boats involved are project1400E patrol boats or smaller crafts.


16 May 1996
Two men captured (one part of the “MRR”, the other part of the “Third Front”) close Santa Lucia.
Cuban ground or naval forces seized their boat (Boston type), alongside a rubber boat and a number of weapons (two assault rifles, 4 rifles, 2 guns, 1 crossbow), communication devices, ammunition and supplies.


16 September 1996
A single man landed from a boat at Punta Alegre, carrying weapons, ammunition and other military equipment. He was captured (unclear if by ground or naval action), alongside the boat (Boston Whealer type) he used. It seems he planned to hide the weapons for future operations on the island.


26 April 2001
The last (so far) action against Cuba: three men from “Alpha-66” and the “Commandos F-4” group tried to land in Villa Clara Province, but coast guard troops on ground opened fire on their boat and took them prisoners. Seized four AKM rifles, one M-3 rifle with silencer, 3 handguns, other material including night visors.
Cuban sources describe a firefight with the boat and a “naval unit” of the Border Guard (“Tropas Guardafronteras”) forcing the enemy to attempt hiding into a small bay leading to the eventual destruction of the terrorist boat. It is likely the Border Guard vessel was a project1400E small patrol boat or a smaller Cuban-made fast boat.
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Photo of GC-555 (project 1400E) of the Guardafronteras. With the cuts of military expenses during '90s, the project 1400E become a priority for maintenance efforts, considering their small size and fast speed effectively replacing the motor torpedo boats (project123K and project183) employed as patrols in '60s and '70s). It is likely the Border Guard vessel was a project1400E small patrol boat or a smaller Cuban-made fast boat.
Post 18 Oct 2018, 17:57
LARGE UPDATE, CORRECTIONS and ADDITIONS
• Extra Cuban Navy loss during the Battle of Playa Giron
• Corrected the limpet-mine attack on December 1963: despite controversial Cuban sources, the name of the ship was LT-85 of project183
• Extra losses for Cuban fishing boats, four (seizures, but subsequently re-seized) in 1963 three (two sinking, 1 seizure), in 1964 two (sinking) in 1966, two (sinking) in 1968 and two (sinking) in 1970.
• “Havan Raid” in 1966 renamed as “Action off Monte Barreto” (official Cuban name), inserted details of the Cuban Navy units engaged.
• Extra important victories (seizures) of enemy “mother ships” in December 1971. Extra victory (seizure of speedboats) in 1974 and 2001.

REMOVED one entry related to the Angolan Civil War (Cuban and sub-equatorial African actions will be covered on a separate work).



((January 2019)) EXTRA minor updates
1) Added loss of "Bahia de Nepe" merchant on 30/April/62 (no clear events)
2) Added very minor skirmish on 25/June/63
3) Refined events of August 1963 (contraddiction in Cuban sources concerning dates)
4) Added brief Soviet POV of Action off Cape San Antonio, little details apart adding contraddictions over classes of Cuban units involved.
5) Added extra info of Action of Monte Barreto (not much useful: two extra Cuban ship in area but did not partecipated)
6) Inserted loss (hijacking) of a very small Cuban navy auxiliary boat on 8/Aug/1994.
Post 03 Mar 2019, 20:56
UPDATES:
1) Widespread fixes in text (without chance of content).
2) Refined details of Action off Cape San Antonio: confirmed identity of project183 motor torpedo boats
3) I should stress the correction of loss of LT-85: contrary to widespread claims, she was also project183 (not 123K)
4) extra possible victory: 17/September/1991: speedboat seized. Unclear if by naval or ground forces
5) extra possible victory: 15/October/1994: speedboat seized. Very likely by naval boats due location (but still scarce details)
6) confirmed detail of 11/February/1996 incident. Speedboat seized on sea (but unclear class/type of Cuban boats)
7) extra possible victory: 16/May/1996: speedboat seized. Unclear of by naval or ground forces
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