The Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

Between October 15 and November 1, the time period during which the Cuban Missile Crisis took place, six nuclear tests took place in the Johnston Island area of the Pacific Ocean. These tests were either Airdrops from B-52's or shot into space by a solid fueled XM-33 Strypi rocket.

NOT included are the three underground nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site or the twelve Atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by the Russians at Novaya Zemlya or Semipalatinsk during the same period.

Timeline of events (American Nuclear tests in blue Italics)
  • Day 1: Tuesday, October 16
    Crisis begins President Kennedy convenes his Executive Committee to consider America's options.
  • DAY 2: Wednesday, October 17
    President Kennedy meets with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrie Gromyko and advises him that America will not tolerate Soviet missiles in Cuba. Gromyko denies the presence of any Soviet weaponry in Cuba.
  • DAY 3: Thursday, October 18
    CHAMA Dominic Airdrop test over Johnston Island area. 1.59 Megaton yield Hydrogen bomb test.
  • DAY 4: Friday, October 19
    JFK meets with the secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They discuss military options.
  • DAY 5: Saturday, October 20
    President Kennedy returns to Washington to discuss the discovery of additional Soviet missiles in Cuba.
    CHECKMATE Dominic High Altitude test on Missile test over Johnston Island Area. Low Kiloton yield.
  • DAY 6: Sunday, October 21
    President Kennedy decides on a naval blockade of Cuba.
  • DAY 7: Monday, October 22
    President Kennedy addresses the American public and announces his plan to implement a naval blockade of Cuba. U.S. military alert is set at DEFCON 3 and Castro mobilizes all of Cuba's military forces.
    High Altitude Russian Nuclear Test at Kapustin Yar Hydrogen Bomb on Rocket. Yield Approx. 300 Kilotons.
  • DAY 8: Tuesday, October 23
    The OAS (Organization of American States) supports the decision to quarantine Cuba. Reconnaissance photos reveal that Soviet missiles are ready for launch.
    - McNamara, Kennedy review and discuss options of confrontation.
    - Discussion of diplomatic efforts at the UN and the vote by the Organization of American States.
  • DAY 9: Wednesday, October 24
    Soviet ships reach the quarantine line, but receive radio orders from Moscow to hold their positions.
    - Consideration of civil defense options and planning for possible Soviet responses in Berlin. - JFK concludes that if we invade in the next ten days, the missile base crews in Cuba will likely fire at least some of the missiles at US targets.
    - Detailed briefing on new reconnaissance photos from Cuba and discussion of the need to disperse planes at Florida bases in the event of attacks by MIGs based in Cuba.
    - McNamara talks of a very dangerous situation since ships approaching the quarantine line are being shadowed by a Soviet submarine.
  • DAY 10: Thursday, October 25
    U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson confronts the Soviets at the U.N. but they refuse to answer. American military forces are instructed to set DEFCON 2 - the highest ever in U.S. history.
    - Review of the movement of ships toward the quarantine line and potential US responses.
  • DAY 11: Friday, October 26
    EX-COMM receives a letter from Khrushchev stating that the Soviets would remove their missiles if President Kennedy publicly guarantees the U.S. will not invade Cuba.
    - The CIA reports that the construction of the missile sites is continuing and accelerating. RFK meets secretly with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin and agrees after a phone call to the president that the removal of US missiles from Turkey is negotiable as part of a comprehensive settlement. - Khrushchev receives a cable from Castro urging a nuclear first strike against the US in the event of an invasion of Cuba.
    BLUEGILL TRIPLE PRIME Dominic test High altitude on Thor IRBM over Johnston Island area. Low Kiloton yield.
  • DAY 12: Saturday, October 27
    While one U-2 spy plane accidentally flies into Russia, another is shot down over Cuba. EX-COMM receives a second letter from Khrushchev stating that, in addition to a public promise not to invade Cuba, the U.S. remove its missiles from Turkey.
    CALAMITY Dominic Airdrop over Johnston Island area by B-52 Hydrogen bomb test. Yield 800 Kilotons.
  • DAY 13: Sunday, October 28
    The crisis is over
    - In a speech aired on Radio Moscow, Khrushchev announces the dismantling of Soviet missiles in Cuba and does not insist on his demands concerning the removal of U.S. missiles from Turkey. High Altitude Russian Nuclear Test conducted at Kapustin Yar. Hydrogen Bomb on Rocket. Yield approx. 300 Kilotons.
  • Monday, October 29
    JFK orders US ships to remain on the quarantine line and authorizes continuation of low-level reconnaissance flights.
  • Tuesday, October 30
    HOUSATONIC Dominic Airdrop over Johnston Island area by B-52 Hydrogen bomb test. Yield: 8.3 Megatons.
  • Thursday, November 1
    KINGFISH Dominic High altitude Missile test over Johnston Island Area. Sub Megaton test.
    High Altitude Russian Nuclear Test conducted at Kapustin Yar. Hydrogen Bomb on Rocket. Yield approx. 300 Kilotons.
  • Wednesday, November 21
    Just over a month after the crisis began, JFK terminates the quarantine when Khrushchev agrees after several weeks of tense negotiations at the UN to withdraw Soviet IL-28 nuclear bombers from Cuba.
  • 1963
    John F. Kennedy signs the Limited Test Ban Treaty.