Page last updated: 30 May, 2017

U.S.S. Little Rock CLG4
at the
Re-Opening of the Suez Canal 05-06 June 1975
Port Side View

The Suez Canal as seen from the Little Rock
Suez Palace

Two of the ship's crew check the sights.
Stbd View

Little Rock passes an Egyptian military post.
Port Said

Port Said as seen from the decks of the USS Little Rock

Photo by John Meyers,  ETN2, 73-75
Royal Yacht el Horria

El Horria (or Al Horrya) - the Royal Yacht of Egypt
(2nd vessel through the Suez Canal)

Wanted!

We would like to post a broadside view photo
of the Egyptian navy destroyer
"October 6".
If you have one, or know where we
can find one, please contact the
Webmaster


In April 1974, the United States and Egypt agreed that the US would provide assistance in clearing the Suez Canal of explosives and sunken ships.  These projects were referred to as:

          *  Nimbus Star (mine and ordnance clearance)
          *  Nimbus Moon (land and sub-surface naval ordnance clearance), and
          *  Nimrod Spar

Nimbus Star and Nimbus Moon were carried out primarily by the US, where as a private salvage contractor cleared the canal of the sunken ships.

The project fell under the supervision of the Sixth Fleet's Task Force 65.

Captain J. Huntly Boyd, the Navy's Supervisor of Salvage acted as Commander, Salvage Task Group (CTG 65.7) supervising the  salvage clearing operation which was carried out by the Murphy Pacific Marine Salvage Company of New York.

Working from May to December 1974 the Task Group allowed the canal to be reopened on 5 June 1975, with the Sixth Fleet flagship Little Rock in attendance

The celebration...

On June 5, 1975, amid the echoes of a 21-gun salute, a seven-ship flotilla eased through ceremonial gates in mid-Canal waters off Port Said and steamed south through the Sues Canal to Ismailia in a five-hour voyage marking the official reopening of the Canal exactly eight years after its closure during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

For the maritime nations of the world, for the Middle East and, above all, for Egypt, it was an event of historic proportions. And if the ceremonies were less spectacular than those marking the original opening of the Canal they were, nonetheless, impressive.

The ceremonies began on a symbolically decorated platform in the Canal just in front of Port Said's ornate Canal Authority building overlooking a waterway again alive with ships in the sparkling sunshine. There, Egypt's President Anwar Sadat, impeccable in a white admiral's uniform, surrounded by some 600 dignitaries, opened the "Day of Joy" by signing a document transferring the Canal from military to civilian control. Then, amid a din of horns, whistles and martial music uncomfortably mixed with the recorded tones of Um Kalthum, the late, revered Egyptian singer, he boarded the destroyer that would carry him to Ismailia. Minutes later, as the last salvo of the destroyer's 21-gun salute echoed across the Canal's blue water, the stately 10-knots-per-hour voyage began and one of the world's greatest man-made waterways was again open.

The above is a lead-in to an article entitled "Suez - The Reopening"
printed in the Sept-Oct 1975 issue of Saudi Aramco World magazine
and written by Robert Arndt. Read the full article here.

Suez Canal Map
From U.S.S. Little Rock's "Tiger Rag"
13 June 1975 Edition

ROCK ATTENDS SUEZ 'REOPENING'

LITTLE ROCK made history recently as it participated in the re-opening of the Suez Canal, which had been closed since the 1967 six-day Arab-Israeli War. The SIXTH FLEET flagship was the only non-Egyptian vessel to take part in the opening day ceremonies.

After being greeted in Port Said, at the gateway of the Suez, by small groups of fishing boats carrying what seemed to be impromptu welcoming committees, LITTLE ROCK joined a procession of ships down the canal.

Headed by an Egyptian Navy Destroyer, carrying President Anwar Sadat, his guests and dignitaries, the procession made its way down the canal to the port of Ismailia. Here, LITTLE ROCK anchored for the night and observed from her mooring the festivities on shore.

U.S. Navy ships and (SIXTH FLEET/TASK FORCE SIXTY FIVE) personnel participated in clearing the canal, which took more than a year before it was reopened.

The joint service task force trained more than 1,500 Egyptian military personnel in explosive ordinance clearing.

During the year-long operation more than 200 tons of unexploded ordinance and 686,000 land and anti-personnel mines were removed from the canal and its banks. Ten sunken ships were also raised from the canal bottom with the help of Navy salvage teams.

On 5 June 1975, after having been closed since the June 1967 war between Egypt and Israel, the Suez Canal was formally reopened for business. USS Little Rock, flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, represented the United States at the ceremonies, which were held at Port Said. According the the 1976 "Naval Review", she was the "only foreign warship in the official flotilla that sailed down the canal to Ismailia" on this occasion.

Much damaged by direct military action in 1967, and especially in another war in October 1973, as well as by the neglect inherent in its long inactivity, the canal had required considerable effort to remove sunken wrecks, clear explosives and return its banks and channels to navigable condition. Its closure had produced serious disruptions in international commerce, as eastbound shipping from the Indian Ocean area and the Far East had to make a long passage around Africa instead of taking the relatively short route via Suez and the Mediterranean. Some of the expedients adopted at that time to improve the economics of a non-Suez Canal environment, among them enormous supertankers for transporting Persian Gulf oil to Europe and the Americas, survive to this day.

Additional Historical Information

(Provided by John Meyers on 17 Aug 2009)


On April 10, 1974, a special Sixth Fleet Task Force, CTF 65, was established under COMSIXTHFLT OPLAN 4371 to assist the Egyptians in clearing the Suez Canal of mines and other operational hazards. At the time, USS Little Rock (CLG 4) was Flagship of the Commander United States Sixth Fleet and the COMSIXTHFLT staff worked from the ship to assist CTF 65 with operational issues. Little Rock's crew and equipment provided day-to-day support of COMSIXTHFLT that contributed to the successful reopening of the Suez Canal.


The task force used operational code names Nimbus Star, Nimbus Moon Land, Nimbus Moon Water, and Nimrod Spar.  Nimbus Star included controlled minesweeping of the canal and approach channels. It was carried out by RH 53D Sea Stallion helicopters using the Mark 105 magnetic minesweeping sled. The plan for Nimbus Moon Land was to train and advise Egyptian Army personnel to find and remove unexploded ordnance from the banks of the canal. Moon Water combined minesweeping craft and divers from the United States, Egypt, Britain and France to find and dispose of ordnance not found otherwise. Nimrod Spar included the salvage and removal of ten sunken wrecks and other waterway hazards.


Ships from the Sixth Fleet that were part of CTF 65 included USS Iwo Jima (LPH 2), USS Inchon (LPH 12), USS Barnstable County (LST 1197), and USS Boulder (LST 1190).


Over the course of CTF 65 operations, more than 8500 contacts allowed for the disposal of 60-plus tons of ordnance. Additionally, 200-plus tons of ordnance was pulled from boats, barges, trucks, tanks, and other vehicles removed the canal.


On June 5, 1975, Little Rock joined the ceremonial convoy for the reopening of the Suez Canal. All participating crewmembers received a Suez Canal Reopening certificate.


Vice Admiral Frederick C. Turner wrote a short note to commemorate the reopening of the Suez Canal as follows:


Today marks a milestone in world history in which the U.S. Navy has a proud and significant part.  The reopening of the Suez Canal to world commerce is, in large measure, a product of the efforts of the men of CTF Sixty-Five who have labored for more than a year to make this day possible.

This effort demonstrates again the great versatility and capability of the U.S. Navy.  In this instance this expertise was applied for the benefit of all nations of the world who rely on ocean commerce.  The Suez Canal clearance effort brought together, under a U.S. Naval command, members of all United States armed services, and military forces of Egypt, Great Britain, and France, working as a team toward a common goal for the advantage of mankind.


With the opening of this great waterway to the use and for the benefit of the world's people, it is our earnest hope that the diligent work of our shipmates, American, Egyptian, British and French, will bring the world closer to the peace and stability which we all seek.

                                                                                                         

FREDERICK C. TURNER

Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy



Note: A 115 page CTF 65 summary document is available here. It can be downloaded as a PDF file.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Task Force 65 Patch Members of Task Force 65 had their own patch to show their involvement with the Suez Canal mine clearing efforts. A copy of the patch, provided by shipmate John Meyers is shown to the left.


Also from John Meyers:


". . . . . . In the book Negotiating for Peace in the Middle East by Ismail Fahmy (Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time of the Suez Canal reopening) the following quoted material is in reference to Anwar Sadat requesting two U.S. Navy ships for the reopening of the Suez Canal as follows:


"I told Sadat in all frankness that it was a bad idea:  the presence of American warships was not only completely unnecessary but could be adversely interpreted in many ways.  Sadat was unconvinced and explained his fears:  'No, impossible.  Without the American ships, I cannot cross.  The Israelis would fire at me.'  I laughed and told him that this was not only impossible, but unimaginable.  Sadat was very angry and kept repeating, 'No, they will fire at me.  You don't know the Israelis, Ismail.'  Realizing that Sadat was genuinely worried about the Israelis, I tried to minimize the damage: 'O.K. But why two American ships?  One is enough.  It will serve the same purpose.'  Sadat agreed and I called the US ambassador to convey Sadat's wish.  Hermann Eilts also stared laughing, but naturally sent Sadat's request to Washington.  The US government consented and the cruiser Little Rock, flagship of the Sixth Fleet, took part in the convoy which crossed the Suez Canal on 5 June 1975."

 

"This is the real story behind the appearance of the Little Rock; it was not a gesture of recognition for the American Navy's help in clearing the Suez Canal, as some writers argued.  The participation of the Little Rock did not escape the sharp eyes of the foreign reporters covering the ceremony.  While the convoy was going through the Canal, I suddenly found myself surrounded by a large group of correspondents who bombarded me with questions about the presence of the Little Rock in a convoy composed solely of commercial ships.  I was forced to limit myself to some evasive answers which left everybody unconvinced.  The reporters' imagination took off from there."


Certificate
Commemorating the
Reopening of the
Suez Canal



The certificate shown at the right is one of those issued to crew members of the U.S.S. Little Rock who were on board during the historic Suez Canal transit on 05 July 1973.



(Certificate furnished by John Meyers)
Suez Certificate

What did the U.S. media have to say
about the U.S.S. Little Rock
at the reopening of the Suez Canal ?



Galveston Daily News
Friday, June 6, 1975


(UPI) In pomp and pageantry befitting the pharaohs, Egypt ceremonially reopened the Suez Canal Thursday as "a gift to the world" and the cause of peace in the Middle East. While white doves flew overhead and cheering crowds chanted his name, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat officially declared the canal open to international traffic for the first time in eight years. Then he boarded an Egyptian Navy destroyer which snapped a thin metal chain at this port on the Mediterranean and sailed into the canal on the six- hour voyage to Ismailia mid way along the 102 mile water- way. The ships of more than half a dozen nations followed, including the flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet......

The U.S. cruiser Little Rock, based with other 6th Fleet units in the Mediterranean, was in the first convoy to enter the reopened canal. They followed Sadat's vessel, the destroyer "October 6", named for the opening date of the 1973 Middle East war which led to the return of the canal to Egyptian control. American diplomatic sources said the Little Rock came at the invitation of the Egyptian government. The invitation was understood to have been a gesture of gratitude to the United States for the key role it played helping to clear mines and other debris from the canal during the last 13 months, they said.


Frederick (MD) Post
Friday, June 6, 1975


(AP) Leading a convoy of Egyptian ships dwarfed by a big American cruiser, President Anwar Sadat reopened the Suez Canal Thursday after eight years of war and uneasy peace. Dressed in the white uniform of an admiral, Sadat led the ceremonial convoy on the bridge of the Egyptian destroyer "October 6", named for the date on which Egyptian troops stormed across the Suez Canal in 1973 to recapture part of the east bank. Sailors, teenagers and aging boatmen in white turbans jammed small boats to follow the convoy. Many hung from the rigging or perched on top of masts chanting "Sadat! Crowds lining the canal banks clapped and danced to the rhythm of reed flutes and leather drums. "I have been feeling very happy since the moment I arrived in Port" Sadat told a reporter aboard his destroyer. "It has been one of the happiest moments of my life when we started transiting the canal again after eight years." The guided missile cruiser Little Rock, a flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet, became the first foreign warship to sail the strategic waterway since it was closed by Arab-Israeli hostilities in 1967. The reopening was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the June 1967 six-day- war, which brought Israeli troops to the east bank of Suez Canal and forced Egypt to close it..............Steaming down the Suez, the USS Little Rock towered over the two lead destroyers, both Soviet built. "The sight of the Little Rock in canal waters will make insurance carriers very (happy) said one American admiral looking on. "But it's not making those guys very (happy) he pointed to two gloomy Soviet admirals, silently witnessing yet another symbol of the Egyptian-American friendship that has undercut Russian influence in this part of the volatile Middle East. Sadat opened the canal at Port Said, its Mediterranean gateway, before boarding the October 6 for the 45 mile cruise to Ismailia, the halfway point.


TIME Magazine
Monday, Jun. 16, 1975


".........As Sadat and his guests moved by launch to the October Six, a gaggle of tugs, pilot boats and harbor runabouts sounded horns and whistled furiously. Egyptian MIG fighters and a pride of helicopters circled overhead. The amplified recorded voice of the late beloved Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum mixed with the martial music.

"This is one of the happiest moments of my life," Sadat told Correspondent Wynn on the bridge of the destroyer. Girls blew kisses to the Egyptian President from small boats. Men clung to the tops of masts, beating the air with their fists and chanting, "Ya Sadat, ya Sadat!" He beamed and waved in response. At intervals the ship passed remnants of the old Israeli Bar-Lev Line, now manned by Egyptian troops. Sadat climbed to the destroyer's signal station to return their salutes.........

The biggest warship in the convoy, as it turned out, was not Egypt's. It was instead the 14,600-ton guided missile cruiser Little Rock, flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The Little Rock was trimmed with flags, including the Stars and Stripes, which flapped visibly in the hot summer wind. Two Soviet admirals among the guests in the flotilla - Moscow's sole representation at the ceremonies - glowered and gloomed."


Wisconsin State Journal
Friday, June 6, 1975

U.S. Ship Joins Pageant
as Egypt Reopens Canal


   PORT SAID, Egypt (UPI) - In pomp and pageantry befitting the pharoahs, Egypt ceremonially reopened the Suez Canal on Thursday as "a gift to the world" and the cause of peace in the Middle East.
   While white doves flew overhead and cheering crowds chanted his name, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat officially declared the canal open to international traffic for the first time in eight years.

   He then boarded an Egyptian navy destroyer which snapped a thin metal chain at this port on the Mediterranean and sailed into the canal on the six-hour voyage to Ismailia, midway along the 102-mile waterway.
   The ships of more than a half dozen nations followed, including the Flagship of the United States Sixth Fleet.

   A Liberian tanker carrying cargo for Israel was reported ready to test whether Egypt would allow it to pass as well within the next few days.
   In a four-minute speech from a rostrum shaped like the pharoahs' ancient Nile barges, Sadat pledged that the Arab world would continue its efforts to reclaim land conquered by Israel and do its "holy duty" to the homeless of Palestine.

   Church bells rang. Ship's whistles screamed. Egyptian naval artillery thundered in salute. Military jets swept overhead.
   While making this initiative as a contribution to peace, Egypt reminds friendly nations that parts of its dear soil are still under foreign occupation and that an entire people are still suffering the consequences of suppression and homelessness," Sadat said.
   "Egypt reiterates its determination to do its holy duty toward its own and other Arab lands- in the Golan Heights, Sinai, and Palestine - and toward usurped Arab rights."

   The U.S. cruiser Little Rock, based with other Sixth Fleet units in the Mediterranean, was in the first convoy to enter the reopened canal.

   They followed Sadat's vessel the destroyer "October 6" named for the opening date of the 1973 Middle East war which led to the return of the canal to Egyptian control.

  American diplomatic sources said the Little Rock came at the invitation of the Egyptian govern- ment.
   The invitation was understood to have been a gesture of gratitude to the U.S. for the key role it played helping clear mines and other debris from the canal during the last 13 months.

   Two hours later, the first toll-paying convoy, five ships flying the flags of Kuwait, Greece, China, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia, entered the canal.

   The reopening of the canal came exactly eight years after the canal was blocked at the outbreak of the 1967 war in which Israel seized the entire Sinai peninsula, including the east bank of the canal.

   In the 1973 war, Egyptian forces crossed the canal, smashed the Israeli Bar Lev defense  line and  advanced up to 12 miles into the Sinai.

   The U.S., Britain, and France joined Egypt in a $120-million salvage operation to clear the mines, sunken vessels, and other war debris from the canal. It began in April, 1974, and ended last month.
   Reactivation of the canal, Cairo hopes, will help Egypt increase its meager hard currency earnings. In 1966 - the last fUll year of operation before the waterway was blocked - revenues totaled about $240-million.
    The canal authority, which announced 90 to 100 per cent increases in tolls last month, says it now expects an annual revenue of about $450-million.


The Stars & Stripes
Saturday, June 7, 1975

Egypt Reopens the Suez

PORT SAID (UPI) --- Egypt reopened the Suez Canal Thursday, and the flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet was among the first ships to travel its waters.

The AmerIcan cruiser Little Rock, which is based along with other 6th Fleet units in the Mediterranean, was among the vessels making up the first convoy to go through the reopened waterway. The convoy was led by the Egyptian navy destroyer October 6, carrying President Anwar Sadat.

American diplomatic sources said the Little Rock came at the invitation of the Egyptian government.
 
The invitation was understood to have been a gesture of gratitude to the U.S. for the key role it played in helping to clear mines and other debris from the Suez Canal during the last 13 months, they said.

The sources dismissed reports circulating here that the Little Rock had made a sudden appearance at the canal entrance and may have caused embarrassment to the Egyptian government.

The presidential convoy was followed into the canal by the first toll-paying ships to use the waterway in eight years.

Sadat described the reopening as "a contribution to peace" in the Middle East but indicated this would not hinder Egypt from fighting Israel again, if necessary, to obtain an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab lands and resolve the problem of the Palestinians.

The reactivation of the canal came amid reports from Israel about an impending test of passage for Israeli goods.

In Tel Aviv, Israeli Transport Minister Gad Yaacobi said Egypt has pledged in writing to permit Israeli cargoes through the canal. He said a Liberian ship headed for the canal with sugar for Israel would be "a test case."

Yaacobi told Radio Israel that Egypt agreed to let Israeli cargoes through the canal in the disengagement pact with Israel signed last January, "Without any doubt this is a part of the disengagement of forces agreement," he said. "It was a commitment given by Egypt to the United States. in writing."

In two days of celebrations, Sadat will travel the length of the waterway linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
 
Standing on the bridge of the OCTOBER 6 as it nosed southward in the canal, Sadat said it was "one of the happiest days of my life."

In a four-minute speech from a quayside rostrum shaped like a vessel of the pharaohs, Sadat said, "While making this initiative as a contribution to peace, Egypt reminds friendly nations that parts of its dear soil are still under foreign (Israeli) occupation and that "an entire people (Palestinians) are still suffering the consequences of suppression and homelessness."

As he spoke, ships blew their whistles, military jets zoomed overhead and church bells pealed across this city at the northern end of the canal, where it links up with the Mediterranean.

After the speech, Sadat boarded the October 6 - named after the opening day of the latest Arab-Israeli war in 1973 - which broke a thin chain 120 yards across the mouth of the canal and nosed southward for a six-hour trip to the city of Ismailia.

Sadat stood on the destroyer's bridge and waved to cheering crowds ashore. At his side was Iranian Crown prince Ali Reza, delegated to represent his father, the Shah, at the reopening ceremonies.

The reopening was exactly eight years to the day the canal was blocked by the outbreak of the June 5, 1967, Arab-Israeli war in which Israeli forces thrust across the Sinai Peninsula all the way, to the east bank of the canal.

Egyptian forces stormed across the canal at the start of the 1973 war, destroyed Israel's Bar Lev defense line and pushed the Israelis back up to 12 miles.



October 6 Destroyer

Anwar Sadat's destroyer "October 6"
passes between channel buoys as it
moves to cut a small chain stretched
across the canal to symbolically open
the Suez Canal.

Photo is from John Meyers ETN2 '73-'75











Bow View

Looking from the 04 level, LITTLE ROCK
proceeds up the Suez Canal on 05 Jul 73.

Official US Navy photo.










Fore Deck

Looking aft from the bow of LITTLE
ROCK as she proceeds transits the
Suez Canal on 05 Jul 73.

Official US Navy photo.











Helo

Looking aft from above the Missile House,
 LITTLE ROCK transits
the Suez Canal
during its reopening on 05 Jul 1973.

Official US Navy photo.

Homage to Anwar Sadat

Clearly President Anwar Sadat was the hero of the day!

The June 13, 1975 issue of "Tiger Rag" stated: "Posters and banners bearing President Sadat's name and picture were seen all along the canal route as LITTLE ROCK made her passage.  The "6 October" on the banner is  in reference to the name of the Egyptian destroyer "October 6" on which President Sadat was embarked for the parade. The destroyer was named for the date on which Egyptian troops stormed across the Suez Canal in 1973 to recapture part of the east bank.

Note: Ironically, it was on October 6, 1981, about three years after making peace with Israel,  that President Sadat was assassinated by Muslim extremists during an annual military parade celebrating the "successful" campaigns of the 1973 Egypt-Israeli conflict. President Sadat was saluting the troops when a small group of them ran from a vehicle in the parade firing machine guns and throwing grenades in the stands.
Egyptian Revelers Wave

Revelers on an obviously overladen Egyptian boat wave to the LITTLE ROCK crew.

The above photo, and the photo to its left were run in the June 13, 1975 copy of the ship's pub- lication "Tiger Rag". 
Official US Navy photo taken by PH2 Harry Deffenbaugh.

Suez Cartoon













The cartoon on the left
was published by the
Indianapolis Star, and
was sent to us by our
Ship's Photographer
Bruce Stewart JO3
1965 - 1967.
( Thanks Bruce !! )
Egyptian Gunboat

Egyptian Gunboat
The two photos on the left we furnished by shipmate John Meyers,  ETN2, 73-75. They provide a starboard view and a bow-on view of an Egyptian "gunboat", obviously equipped with Soviet missiles (Note the four launchers.)



The picture on the right, also from John Meyers, provides a nice view from atop USS Little Rock's missile house, looking aft as Little Rock transits Suez Canal.
Looking aft
Band

Sixth Fleet Band
From Signal Bridge

A Little Rock shipmate survey's the Suez Canal.
Were you there?

Then we'd like your input.


Your photos and comments are welcome.

Contact Art Tilley or
Woody Donaldson

Except as noted, the above black & white photos are Official Navy Photos from Dep't. of the Navy's Naval Historic Center.
Except as noted the full color photos were contributed by USS Little Rock shipmate
Dave Sciarretta RM2 1973-76

COMSIXTHFLT's take on this Historic Event...

In a message to the Sixth Fleet VADM Turner sent the following message:

05 JUL 75
FM  COMSIXTHFLT
TO  ALSIXTHFLT
SUEZ CANAL REOPENING - 5 JUNE 1975

1.  TODAY MARKS A MILESTONE IN WORLD HISTORY IN WHICH THE U.S.
NAVY HAS A PROUD AND SIGNIFICANT PART. THE REOPENING OF THE SUEZ
CANAL TO WORLD COMMERCE IS, IN LARGE MEASURE, A PRODUCT OF THE
EFFORTS OF MEN OF CTF SIXTY-FIVE WHO LABORED FOR MORE THAN A
YEAR TO MAKE THIS DAY POSSIBLE.

2.  THIS EFFORTS DEMONSTRATES AGAIN THE GREAT VERSATILITY AND
CAPABILITY OF THE U.S. NAVY. IN THIS INSTANCE THE EXPERTISE WAS
APPLIED FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL NATIONS OF THE WORLD WHO RELY ON OC-
EAN COMMERCE. THE SUEZ CANAL CLEARANCE EFFORT BROUGHT TOGETHER UNDER A U.S. NAVAL COMMAND MEMBERS OF ALL UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES,
AND MILITARY FORCES OF EGYPT, GREAT BRITAIN AND FRANCE, WORKING AS
A TEAM TOWARD A COMMON GOAL FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF MANKIND.

3.  WITH THE OPENING OF THIS GREAT WATERWAY TO THE USE AND FOR THE
BENEFIT OF THE WORLD'S PEOPLES, IT IS OUR EARNEST HOPE THAT THE
DILIGENT WORK OF OUR SHIPMATES, AMERICAN, EGYPTIAN, BRITISH AND
FRENCH, WILL BRING THE WORLD CLOSER TO THE PEACE AND STABILITY
WHICH WE ALL SEEK. FREDRICK C. TURNER, VICE ADMIRAL, U.S. NAVY,
COMMANDER SIXTH FLEET.

And to the "Gaeta Community" he sent the following:

05 JUL 75
FM  COMSIXTHFLT
TO  NAVSUPPACT NAPLES DET. GAETA IT

1.  REQUEST REPRODUCE AND DISSEMINATE THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE
FROM COMSIXTHFLT THROUGHOUT THE GAETA COMMUNITY.

2.  QUOTE: TO THE MEMBERS OF THE GAETA NAVY COMMUNITY. PARA.
I WISH TO SHARE WITH EACH OF YOU THE HONOR AND PRIDE WHICH
ARE OURS AS WE PARTICIPATE TODAY, 5 JUNE, IN THE REOPENING
CEREMONIES OF THE SUEZ CANAL AS REPRESENTATIVES OF OUR
COUNTRY. USS LITTLE ROCK IS IN THE GROUP OF SHIPS WHICH ARE
MAKING THE FIRST TRANSIT OF THE CANAL. I KNOW YOU ARE ALSO
PROUD THAT YOUR HUSBANDS AND FATHERS ARE PART OF THIS HISTORIC
EVENT IN WHICH OUR NAVY HAD SUCH A LARGE PART.

3.  AS YOU MAY KNOW, TASK FORCE SIXTY-FIVE  OF THE SIXTH FLEET
HAS BEEN WORKING FOR MORE THAN A YEAR TO CLEAR THE UNEXPLODED
ORDNANCE, AND SUNKEN SHIPS, AND OTHER WRECKAGE FROM THE CANAL.
THIS OPENING OF THE CANAL AFTER EIGHT YEARS IS A BENEFIT NOT
ONLY TO THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT, BUT (TO) THE ENTIRE WORLD. WE
ARE MOST PROUD BOTH AS AMERICANS AND NAVYMEN THAT OUR SERVICE
AND OUR PEOPLE ARE LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MASSIVE AND
SUCCESSFUL EFFORT. BEST WISHES TO EACH OF YOU FROM EACH OF
US IN THE USS LITTLE ROCK AS WE SAIL IN THE SUEZ CANAL. (RETURN
TRANSIT TOMORROW). F.C. TURNER, VADM, USN, COMMANDER SIXTH FLEET.

And to the rest of the world CNO sent:

RUENAAA5926 UNCLAS
R 071237Z/79 JUN 75 ZEO
FRM CNO WASHINGTON DC
TO NAVOP
BT
UNCLAS // N05700 // SECTION 01 OF 03
WEEKLY NEWSGRAM FROM CHINFO (NAVY INTERNAL RELATIONS ACTIVITY
(23-75)

1. THIS NEWSGRAM CONTAINS NAYY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAST WEEK. THE INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR DISSEMINATION TO ALL HANDS

A. U.S. FLAGSHIP IN REOPENING OF SUEZ CANAL. THE GUIDED MISSILE CRUISER USS LITTLE ROCK (CLG-4), SIXTH FLEET FLAGSHIP, WAS THE ONLY FOREIGN WARSHIP IN AN OFFICIAL CONVOY WHlCH TRANSITED THE SUEZ CANAL DURING REOPENING EVENTS LAST WEEK. THE CANAL WHICH HAD BEEN CLOSED SINCE THE 1967 SlX-DAY ARAB-ISRAELI WAR WAS FORMALLY REOPENED BY EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT ANWAR EL SADAT IN A CEREMONY AT PORT SAID. IT WAS ATTENDED BY VICE ADMIRAL FREDERICK C. TURNER, SIXTH FLEET COMMANDER; PRESENT AND FORMER COMMANDERS OF TASK FORCE 65, A JOINT SERVICE ORGANIZATION COMMANDED BY SIXTH FLEET, WHICH ASSISTED WITH CANAL CLEARANCE OPERATIONS, AND REPRESENTATIVES OF FOREIGN NATIONS. THE CONVOY, HEADED BY AN EGYPTIAN DESTROYER CARRYING

PAGE 2  RUENAAA5926 UNCLAS
PRESIDENT SADAT STEAMED FROM PORT SAID TO LAKE TIMSAH, LOCATED AT THE MID-WAY POINT OF THE 101 MILE-LONG WATERWAY. FOLLOWING TRANSIT OF THE CANAL, USS LlTTLE ROCK, HOMEPORED IN GAETA, ITALY WILL MAKE A PORT VISIT AT ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT. U. S. NAVY SHIPS AND PERSONNEL PARTICIPATED IN CANAL CLEARANCE OPERATIONS FOR MORE THAN A YEAR. THE TASK FORCE TRAINED MORE THAN 1,500 EGYPTIAN MILITARY PERSONNEL TO CLEAR EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE. DURING THE YEAR LONG OPERATION, AT LEAST 200 TONS OF UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE WERE REMOVED FROM THE CANAL AND 686,000 LAND AND ANTI-PERSONNEL MINES WERE REMOVED FROM THE CANAL AND ITS BANKS. TEN SUNKEN SHIPS WERE RAISED FROM THE CANAL BOTTOM WITH THE AID OF U.S. NAVY SALVAGE ASSETS.

(END OF PORTION PERTAINING TO SUEZ CANAL OPENING)


....and CDR Kent Siegal, XO recalled the transit with the following ...

SIDE TRIP TO SUEZ
 

A Recollection by Kent Siegel

     Our flagship assignments took us into many important historical events. Remember the occasions when you were damned proud to be a LITTLE ROCK sailor, a U.S. Navyman, and an American. For me the apex was the ceremony for the reopening of the Suez Canal in June 1975. The skipper at this time was Captain Bill Martin, COMSIXTHFLT was Vice Admiral Fred "Fox" Turner, and I was XO.

     As you' II recall, the Suez Canal was closed by the "Six Day War" between the Arabs and Israel in June of 1967. Numerous ships were sunk and canal infrastructure destroyed with further damage occurring during the "Yom Kipper War" of 1973. Through a mighty effort by an international team of mine and harbor clearance personnel, mostly American, the canal was declared passable for shipping in early June of 1975. COMSIXTHFLT's and LITTLE ROCK's planned participation in the ceremony was a well kept secret, so much so that even the Egyptian seaward missile boat defense barrier commander was not aware of our invitation, which made for some tense moments during the nighttime hours as we approached Port Said.

The sight as we entered port on the morning of 5 June was unforgettable. Merchant ships numbering over one hundred were anchored in the outer harbor awaiting canal transit. As we got closer, every manner of boat came out to meet us, sped round about us -- close aboard -- overloaded with men cheering, singing, beating on drums, blowing kisses and tossing flowers. It was clear they were pretty darn happy and so were we when we heard them shouting "USA, USA - WE LOVE YOU!"  (See Tiger Rag photo's above.)

As we made our mooring just offshore in the city , it became apparent that the city was prepared for a spectacle -- literally swarming with people, right down to the water's edge. Spontaneous cheers moved through the crowd like the roar of oncoming surf. I don' t know how many folks were gathered in the center of town - maybe a million -- lots . Upon mooring, COMSIXTHFLT departed by barge to join the official party at the city' s central piazza. On completion of the formal speeches, President Sadat embarked in his flagship, an Egyptian Navy Soviet-built destroyer. He then ordered the hugh golden gates (specially constructed for this occasion and floated on barges) towed aside. The Suez Canal was officially OPEN -- More thunderous cheers. The ceremonial convoy of some dozen or so ships were underway and moving into their positions in a column. We were third, astern of Sadat's flagship and a floating antique--an ornate, steam-powered ship, formerly the royal yacht of Egypt .

We embarked COMSIXTHFLT and headed toward the canal entrance. As we passed the ceremonial gates at the city's main piazza, it was a tumultuous scene right out of a Cecil B. DeMille movie -- bands were blaring, cannons boomed, all ships present saluted with their whistles, and the crowd roared. Seemingly, every aircraft in the Egyptian armed forces that could fly was in the air over Port Said. Again, the harbor churned with boats full of wildly happy celebrants. It was tough to concentrate on safe ship-driving, but we made it into the canal without incident. Now the vast desert stretched ahead, south of the city, beyond the levees on either bank.

We would transit to Lake Timsah, the canal midpoint, remaining overnight at anchor. As we steamed through the canal, Egyptian military units lined the levee, manning ramparts on both sides. These units ranged from heavy armored, with their tanks in formation, to Bedouins on camels waving their rifles overhead. I don' t know how many times we returned honors, but on the bridge, we were running from port to starboard and back and forth with great regularity. All along the big ditch were signs praising SADAT and EGYPT, and FORD and the USA. It's great to feel loved and this was one helluva big love-in. The transit, however, was not without its grim reminders of the violent warfare which had taken place several years earlier with the relatively large city of Quantara, on the canal' s east bank, lying in near-total ruin.

Upon arrival at the city of Ismailia on Lake Timsah, we crowded into an anchorage in close company with the other ships of the ceremonial convoy. That evening, there was a magnificent fireworks display over the waterfront offices of the Suez Canal Company headquarters. We weighed anchor early the next morning and with our canal pilot embarked, reversed our track, heading northward to exit the canal at Port Said -- back into the blue Mediterranean. Here we spent the rest of the day sprucing the ship up for our next event. The following morning, we entered port at historic Alexandria for a memorable three-day visit for both official and recreational purposes.

All in all, it was another fantastic travel and adventure package from the Great Gray Cruise Lines !
Your comments are welcomed!
Here's what your shipmates recall about the Little Rock's transit of the Suez Canal on 05 June 75...

*   Received via email from Bill Peterson,  MSSN, 73-75:   "Yes I do remember that day 6-5-75. It was hot and our LPO said the media will be on board the ship and act your age and not your IQ.  I was in the S-5 div standing on the rails in our dress whites while we went through the canal at parade rest. Yes those were the days!"

The following related article was on Page 1 of the June 13th "Tiger Rag"


"UP AND OVER" FOR FIVE

Two enlisted crewmembers and three officers from the LITTLE ROCK were made an indelible part of the historic Suez Canal reopening recently as they participated in re-enlistment and promotion ceremonies.

BM3 Charles Finiak and SH3 Raymond Brown Jr. re-enlisted for six years during the ceremonies held on the Signal Bridge as LITTLE ROCK made her return trip up the Suez. Finiak assigned to the ship's Deck Division since 1972 will be leaving in July for assignment with the USS FLINT (AE 32) homeported in Concord, Calif.

Brown, a member of the LITTLE ROCK's Supply Department, has worked in the ship's laundry since his arrival in 1973. He will leave in July for Pearl Harbor Hawaii and the USS DAVIDSON (DE 1045).

The second ceremony advanced three LITTLE ROCK division officers to the rank of LTjg.  Alexander Murray, Disbursing Officer; Daniel Musmanno (#367), Second Division Officer and Nicholas Smilari, Legal Officer strapped on their new rank insignias with the help of Commanding Officer Captain William R. Martin (#330) and their Department Heads.


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