On June 8, 1967, while conducting SIGINT operations off the Egyptian coast, USS Liberty (AGTR 5) (featured image), was attacked by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats and received severe damage from a torpedo and gunfire.
The USS Liberty proceeded to Valletta, Malta for immediate repairs. The ship, however, was so extensively damaged that it was not completely repaired and never operated again in its assigned role.
After the USS Liberty incident, it became a practice of Commander Sixth Fleet to station a destroyer over the horizon in the vicinity of the SIGINT ship. The Vice Chief of Naval Operations also directed that the SIGINT ships be armed in the future. On December 14, 1967, the CNO directed that USS Banner, USS Pueblo, and USS Atakapa be armed with a minimum of two .50-caliber machine guns prior to their next mission.
USS Atakapa conducted SIGINT operations in the Mediterranean from June into October 1967. The USS Pueblo, a converted 25-year-old army FS (small coastal freighter), which had been inactive for several years following ten years of service in the Philippines, was refitted by the Navy as a surface SIGINT ship in 1967. USS Oxford and USS Jamestown continued their SIGINT collection operations in the Western Pacific area throughout 1967.
As of 1967, Black Sea operations were being carried out on at least an annual basis. Electronic intelligence (ELINT) riders and combat cameraman were assigned during such operations to expand the intelligence collections resources of the Black Sea-deployed U.S. navy ships. In the succeeding years, two such operations were conducted during 1968, three in 1969, and four in 1970.
USNS Private Jose F. Valdez conducted collection operations along the African coast with visits to Mombasa, Lourenco Marques, Luanda, Dakar, and Monrovia during the period 17 January to August 28, 1968.
USS Georgetown and USNS Sgt. Joseph E. Muller (T-AG 171), an unarmed ship with a civilian crew, conducted intelligence collection operations of Cuba from July to October 1968.
The AGTRs USS Oxford and USS Jamestown continued their collection operations in the Western Pacific throughout 1968. The modified fleet tug USS Atakapa operated in the Mediterranean from June into October 1968.
Source: A Century of U.S. Naval Intelligence
Edited by Mario Vulcano