The build-up of Soviet strength in the Mediterranean since the Middle East war has brought the number of Soviet vessels there to about ninety.
The build-up of Soviet strength in the Mediterranean since the Middle East war has brought the number of Soviet vessels there to about ninety. The ships must pass from the Black Sea through the narrow straits of the Bosphorous to reach the Mediterranean, and at dawn observers are out in force recording their movements.
Shipping through the Straits, which divide Turkey, is governed by the 36-year-old Montreux Convention. Under this, all warships are obliged to navigate the Bosphorous in daylight hours. The Convention rules, unless amended, would also prevent the Soviet Union from sending her aircraft carrier, the Kiev, outside the Black Sea. The Kiev was built at a Black Sea shipyard and western experts believe she was intended for operations beyond the Straits.
The United States has sent an aircraft carrier task force into the Indian Ocean as a response to the Soviet naval build-up. The Americans also have three aircraft carriers and two helicopter carriers on station in the Mediterranean itself. Four thousand marines are estimated to be aboard the helicopter carriers.
A U.S. Democrat Senator, henry Jackson, told an American television audience on Sunday (November 4) that there were "probably the equivalent to a battalion" of marines aboard the Soviet ships in the Mediterranean. A battalion would normally amount to at least 500 men.