By Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera, 09 June 2015
Richard Brooks still remembers when the alert came. With klaxons sounding and people yelling, the tannoy system warned everyone "Standby to receive torpedo hit". "I thought I’ll never get out of this mess alive. Weird things were running through your minds, because I’d chalked myself off."
He felt the torpedoes hit and the ship pitch to one side but realised he was still alive. And then the priority became survival. As chief engineer, he could tell the engines were still working. “My machinery was still intact and I was still making headway. I yelled through the voice tube ‘Give me all the steam pressure you’ve got, let’s get the hell out of this area’".
Eventually his ship, The USS Liberty made its way to safer waters and managed to take stock of the sustained attack. Thirty-four were lying dead, more than 171 were injured.
The victims of the day Israel attacked America. The Liberty had been sitting in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula. A spy ship, it had been gathering information as the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War raged on land.
'Mistaken identiaty' During the course of the day, the ship had been buzzed by Israeli aircraft. But flying the American flag, there was no cause for panic, no need for alarm.
“People were sunbathing, enjoying the June sunshine,” said Brooks, who was more concerned with keeping the engines running. The demands of the job perhaps saved his life. Al Jazeera investigates the truth behind the attack on USS Liberty.
Israel insisted it was a case of mistaken identity. It alleged that pilots were exhausted having fought so hard over the previous days. The US naval vessel was thought to be an Egyptian warship.
And that’s why it was attacked with rockets and cannons and missiles and torpedoes.