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Cuban Naval Battles

Soviet cogitations: 262
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 05 Jan 2018, 20:52
Since the Cuban Revolution, the new communist government faced a long-lasting series of direct confrontation 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 organization 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 in confrontation (with some successes and some losses), the bulk of the successful operation was achieved by the Cuban intelligence (DGI) effectively infiltrating and disabling the armed groups from inside.
The fall of Soviet Union and the economic difficulties saw a resurgence of attacks, but many of them focused on bombing blast 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.

DISCLAIMER: the activity of Miami-based groups are often described by Cuban sources as “counter-revolutionaries” (early phase) or “pirates” (later phase) or terrorists (modern times). Technically describe such actions as “piracy” is incorrect (attacks did not aimed to rob or seize boats for monetary purpose) and considering how such attacks were primarily aimed against civilian targets, they can rather be fully defined as act of terrorism. By instance, one of the most notorious groups, “Alpha-66”, currently designed also by western sources as a terrorist organization, was also backed by CIA at least until 1971.

Sources include: Cuban governative sites and press (c)Ecured (c)Granma

4 March 1960
Inside Havana’s harbor, the French merchant La Coubre (4310tons) exploded while unloading 79tons 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 personally present during the blast and provided medical help to some wounded.
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 an armed boat. 4 men died (apparently machine-gunned on sea). It was later revealed how they were Cuban intelligence agents ready to be landed in Miami to infiltrate the counter-revolutionaries: one of the killed was indeed an already established agent. While CIA-directed agents performed the attack, it is it is unknown if it was a planned ambush.

19 January 1961
Cuban ground forces prevented an infiltration landing in the province of Pinar del Rio.

13 March 1961
First reported attack from a speedboat: a strafing attack close Santiago de Cuba damaging 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) was centered in 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 with bombs and rockets Houston: 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 killed, 11 wounded). .
Photo of the ship before the Revolution. Ex- American PC-790.
Cuban Sea Furies and T-33s achieved a second successful strike when hit and sunk the 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 told 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 has 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) it was only Blagar and Barbara J that 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 started operating only by night to avoid being attacked from air, by 20 April the battle was over with the crushing defeat of the invading force and the victory for the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces.
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 istance 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 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.
She was a “Vosper-type” ex- American Motor torpedo boat.

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
A naval attack from speedboat named “Susan Ann” (armed with 2 – 12.7mm) of the MRR (Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria) against the Cuban auxiliary patrol boat SV-28, in Havana province (3 KIA, 5 WIA). The attack was fast, and the Cuban crewmember had little chance to reply to fire due wounds and struggling against a fire but the speedboat pulled back without taking the chance to finish the damaged vessel. Interestingly, it appears to be a rare surface-engagement attack committed directly against a properly armed boat of the Cuban Navy.

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

10 September 1962
One “Comandos-L” boat opened fire in Caibairen harbor at the grounded Cuban ship San Pasqual (used as a molasses storage), the British merchant Newlane (7012 GRT) that was loading a cargo of sugar: both received machineguns hits (respectively 18 and 13).

5 October 1962
An infiltration attempt was prevented, close Baracoa.

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 was attacked and sunk into Cardenas Bay by a boat armed with 22mm. 2 members of the Militia swam away from the sinking point, while other 2 were captured (and released 30 days later). There are conflicting reports, because according an alternate account (by counter-revolutionaries), they actually 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 state the boat was indeed a pleasure craft, but appears reasonable that (due the high-conflict situation) weapons were carried onboard.

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).

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.
USS Harold J.Ellison was a Gearing-class destroyer

19 March 1963
Soviet merchant “Lvov” was attacked by gunfire from a boat in Isabela de Sagua harbor, suffering damage. The action coordinated by “Alpha-66” and “Second Front” using two boats armed with 20mm and machine-guns: each operated by 12-15 men. At first the attacking boats strafed a Soviet camp on the shore, wounding 6 men but causing slight damage: guards from the “Lvov” returned fire and wounded two terrorists on a boat.

27 March 1963
A raid by the “Comandos-L” against the Soviet merchant Baku (cargo of 10000 tons of sugar) that suffered 20mm/machine-guns hit and then a 4-metres hole caused by explosion from a charge attached to the hull. The attack occurred in the harbor of Caibarien, and the terrorists used a speedboat named “Phoenix”.
The Soviet ship claimed as sunk, but apparently, she was only damaged. Soviet Union demanded compensation from the United States.

25 June 1963
Cuban Navy patrol boat (unidentified) briefly engaged with a 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 nothing.

8 - 14 August 1963
Action off Cayo Anguila
Three Cuban fishing boats attacked by speedboats likely, this occurred on 8 August and two fishing boats seized. Unidentified units of the Cuban Navy intercepted and seized back the two fishing boat off Cayo Anguila on 14 August. On the boats were captured four members of Miami-based group, while 15 sailors liberated. Cuban sources adds some confusion to the events, because tends to not report the exact day of original speedboats attack, and wrongly place the liberation on 8 August.

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 one was suddenly shredded by gunfire from the shore (killing the raiders on it) and the other raiders had no time to flee on the second raft (it was likely captured or destroyed). The two motorboats attempted to flee, but “Rex” escaped without waiting them, one motorboat had suffered damage on the rudder and slowed down, until was captured by a project-123K class motor torpedo boat.
The second motorboat found on sea the Liberian-flagged merchant “G.Louis” (32.500 tons, sailing from Jamaica to Texas with a cargo of bauxite), opened fire against the ship and forced them to recover the motorboat passengers. Having witnessed the scene, the Cuban Air Force believed the merchant was the mother-ship and attacked with five MiG-15bis fighter jets, four Il-14R (armed with 250kg bombs) and two Mi-4 helicopters, causing damage and fire but no casualty.
The second motorboat was likely abandoned drifted on sea, because was later seized by the Cubans boats.
Alerted by the merchant, US Navy F-5 Phantos-II flew to help but they returned to avoid a direct confrontation with MiGs and prevent a further escalation.
Once realized the mistake MiG-15bis found again the “Rex” (the ship was sailing to Mexico) and Cubans claim to have inflicted damages (not confirmed) but were forced back due lack of fuel, two Cuban Navy units continued to pursue the “Rex” until she reached American waters.
The US Government protested for the attack on the merchant ship (ignoring the fact the ship has been literally seized by raiders with armed weapons), but it was surpassed by an announcement from Castro revealing the capture of 4 prisoners and details of the accidents (including the seizure of both motorboats). The prisoners confessed details about the CIA operations: further details later leaked by American press and President Kennedy closed the specific training camp of the commandos and criticized the whole action and the CIA conduct. 3 of the captured raiders later executed, while the fourth one (underage 15 years old) received a prison sentence).
Some Cuban sources mistakenly report the date of February 1963.
Soviet sources adds some confusion to the battle scenario, stating there were 3 Cuban motor torpedo boats of project183 (rather than project123K) alongside four submarine chasers (apparently project122 bis): direct Cuban naval commander was Rolando Días Astaraín, a Soviet advisor involved in the Air operations.
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 sunk in action by enemy: she sunk in harbor at Siguanea, by limpet-mine (3 KIA, 18 WIA). The ship was a project-183 class motor torpedo boat and the attack was a revenge for the engagement in October, even if with less strategically importance. Attack claimed by “Comandos Mambises” as clear 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 (submarine chaser El Baire sunk in 1961 had little battle value).
(NOTE: some Cuban sources wrongly report 27 December also wrongly identify the ship as “LT-385”).
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 later depart and seize 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, resulted in the killing of 1 sailor.
Unclear details.

9 August 1964
An explosion by bomb placed on hull of the Cuba merchant María Teresa (1000tons) occurred 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 reported.

31 August 1964
An observation point of the Cuban Navy strafed by speedboat (also attacked on the same attack a cooperative and a lighthouse). 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 (including use of 40mm and 20mm), 3 sailors killed and 17 wounded. The attack made by the MRR (Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria) with use of two US-delivered Swiftclass patrol boats: Monty and Gitana (both directly supplied by CIA). The crew left the ship and was then recovered by Dutch merchant P.G. Thulin with help of a US coast-guard aircraft. Spanish authorities, at the time led by the fascist Franco regime, made only a mildly complain to Americans (still demanded a monetary compensation from CIA), while the attack turned an occasion for the anti-fascist opposition to protest against the regime.
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 recovered the ship with further cover by MiG-15 fighters. As consequence of the attack, the American administration decided to suspend and eventually stop all support for MRR (and the two patrol boats would be diverted in Congo to chase Che Guevara).

?? 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 bombing them (miss) before they escaped to Nicaragua.

17 May 1965
A speedboat (model V-2) attempting to infiltrate at Santa Cruz del Norte seized (infiltrators captured). Unclear if the action occurred by ground forces and/or naval forces.

13 November 1965
Cuban ground troops opened fire from the shore (near Havana) on armed boat (possibly attempting to land).

12 March 1966
Cuban boats Lambda-2 and Lambda-17 attacked and sunk by speedboats. Unclear if sailors kidnapped or allowed to return to coast, no casualties reported. One attacking boat reportedly named “Santa Marina”.

29 May 1966
Action of Monte Barreto
“Comandos-L” attempted a bold attack to directly murder the leader Fidel Castro: two assassins landed close Havan but they were successfully discovered and killed. One of them was Hermino Diaz Garcia, a CIA-linked assassin suspected to have been involved in the JFK murder and confirmed to have been involved in other political killings. Tony Cuesta, the leader of “Comandos-L”, led the 23-feet boat that landed them: the boat tried to leave but was intercepted by two Cuban patrol boats and stopped.
Cuban motor torpedo boat LT-128 (project 123K) engaged first and opened fire, suffering 1 wounded on return. The second Cuban unit involved was LT-141 (of same class) with onboard the flotilla commander Lt. José Téllez-Girón. During the fight, crewmember of LT-141 also opened fire with Uzi submachine-guns and both units scored hits on the enemy boat. Another man onboard LT-141 was also wounded. Once surrounded, Cuesta claimed to have personally detonated a grenade to scuttle the boat, killing two of his own men: he was wounded and captured alongside a fourth terrorist. Realistically, the speedboat (identified as a “type V-20” by Cubans) sunk due combined gunfire from LT-128 and LT-141. Cuban sources report a small fire on LT-128 after hit, while the sinking fully credited to LT-141 gunfire: interestingly there were also two project201M submarine chasers on sea (and other motor torpedo boats) but they did not engage the enemy.
Cuban account actually describe how Cuesta just wounded himself (lost sight and one hand) while attempting to launch the grenade (this is reasonable with his wound, due self-detonation of the hand-grenade). The action resulted in the only communist Cuban naval success with direct sinking of the enemy target into a proper naval fight.
During the operation, a Cuban Il-14 patrol plane provided air cover and observed the battle throwing bombs to cut the escape route to the speedboat.
Interestingly, Tony Cuesta himself has claimed involvement in JFK murder before his death (1992): his effective removal from action for a number of years, was a significant blow to the naval capabilities of the armed groups Curiously, Cuesta was not executed and appears likely he was freed as part of secret exchange of prisoners.
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 missile-boat LC-274: The mutineers murdered the commander. But the second-in-command, despite wounded took a M-52 rifle and managed to take control of the ship (he reportedly died for wounds). Another missile boat, LC-271 was supposed to sail alongside LC-274, but the collaboration of a single traitor on the ship (who sabotaged the radar) prevented the sister-ship to help. As aftermath, three traitors were executed.
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 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 were hit by tropical storm and one boat capsized (other boat was rescued by Americans from Guantanamo bay). The militant group was unaware how the only human loss of the operation was actually an infiltrated agent.

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
While previously speedboats made strafing attacks against military and civilian targets, often causing material damages and fires, and sporadically few casualties, the attack at Boca de Samá village (close Banes), turned especially bloody resulting in 2 killed (a member of the State Department and a unarmed border guard) and 4 civilian wounded (including two children) by random strafing. The attack was carried by the notorious “Alpha-66” from one of two mother-ships operated by the group and prompted a heavy search from the Cuban Navy against the ships .

5 December 1971
The Cuban Navy achieved one of two subsequent significant coups to defeat the seaborne capabilities of “Alpha-66”. The mother-ship “Layla Express” intercepted in open sea (close Bahamas water, 100 miles from Cuba) by four Cuban submarine chasers (project201M) until it was boarded and seized by CS-309.
It is unclear if the bloody attack in Boca de Samá was carried from “Layla Express” or the second mother-ship. The ship was a privately owned former freighter (bearing a Panamanian flag as façade).
Photo of sister-ship CS-649. The Soviet-made class provided decisive in the double seizures of December. Interestingly, the North Korean Navy appreciated much this class while China and Vietnam opted for smaller vessels.

15 December 1971
The Cuban Navy scored a second important success, intercepting in open sea (again close Bahamas) the “Alpha-66” mother-ship “Johnny Express”. Once again the victory was scored by a project201M submarine chaser: CS-307 chased the ship for four hour until strafing, ramming, boarding and capturing her (14 captured).
Of the crew of 11, two sailors and the captain received wounds (treated in Cuban hospitals).
In the upper deck of “Johnny Express” also found a speedboat.
The double seizures in December 1971 heavily slowed down the pace and the number of coastal raids of the terrorists.
Obviously, at the time the connections with “Alpha-66” negated by Miami-based sources but later confirmed and even detailed with still deep involvement of CIA. Some sources even fully claim both ships were CIA-operated (this would easily explain while crewmembers were released, likely with some secret accord, than convicted). The Cuban government temporarily detained only the commander of “Johnny Express” but he was too release by mediation of 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).
Additionally, both “Layla Express” and “Johnny Express” ultimately released and sent to Panama, their fate is unknown, but they were prone to sink during the voyage (Cuba did not repair the damages and made no maintenance, worsening their conditions) so they were likely sold for scrapping.

8 October 1972
A speedboat (model FV-28) with two men attempting to infiltrate into the Oriente Province captured. Unclear if the action occurred by ground forces and/or naval forces.

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.
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”) attacked the fishing boats Cayo Largo-17 and Cayo Largo-34: both sunk, 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 units involved: it is possible motor torpedo boats of project183, due their high speed.

2 November 1975
In Puerto Rico, the Soviet cruise-ship S.S. Maksim Gorkiy while at anchor with cruise passengers onboard suffered two explosions on the hull, causing light damages. No claim done, but likely responsible was a Miami-based group.

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 motivating the general Cuban-Soviet relationships.

12 February 1976
Soviet tanker Dhzordano Bruno (31294 GRT) attacked by a speedboat while anchored in Bahamas.
No casualties and no report of damage, likely responsible was a Miami-based group.

6 April 1976
Cuban fishing boats Ferro-119 and Ferro-123 attacked by FLNC speedboat and sunk on sea: 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 reported 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. Between 1968 and 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 reduced 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 having supposedly fished on their national waters. Ten years ago (on 18 May) a similar event resulted in MiG-21 being dispatched to scare the authority resulting in the release despite the presence of American F-4 Phantoms.
However this time the seizure resulted in a bloody consequences, because a couple of MiG-21 strafed the HMBS Flamingo sinking her, killing 4 sailors and wounding 3 others. The survivors, alongside the 8 Cuban fishermen reached the coast with the fishing boats: the following 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.
While from a military point of view, the attack was a success 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).
Photo of Flamingo before sinking, she was built by Vosper Thorneycroft.

4 July 1992
An armed boat tried to strafe location nearby Havana but chased by Cuban patrol boats nearby Varadero until (after suffering technical problems) it was rescued by the US Coast Guard; 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 north of Matranzas manned by the “EAS” group. No casualties.

11 November 1993
Four members of the “PUND” (Partido Unido Nacional Democratico) captured close Varadero: weapons, ammunition and the boat used for the landing captured. It is unclear if the seizure was achieved by ground troops or naval boats involved.

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.

11 February 1996
An armed boat manned by “PUND” members opened fire from sea against a Hotel, but was then seized by the Cuban border guards. It is unclear if the vessel was seized by ground troops or by Cuban boats. 3 prisoners.

16 February 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 he used, and 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. Also seized four AKM rifles, one M-3 rifle with silencer, 3 hand guns, other material including night visors. Cuban sources describe a firefight occurred between the boat and a “naval unit” of the Border Guard (“Tropas Guardafronteras”) forcing the enemy to attempt hiding into a small bay and in the eventual destruction of the terrorist boat.
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.
Soviet cogitations: 262
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 18 Oct 2018, 17:57
• 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 Soviet ship in area but did not partecipated)
6) Inserted loss (hijacking) of a very small Cuban navy auxiliary boat on 8/Aug/1994.
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