What in the world could have prompted your paper to print Ken Ringle's long Feb. 1 Style story on the USS Liberty? His article is full of innuendo and speculation, without any hint as to what triggered the publication of the story at this time. It also is tinged with comments from discredited sources and tired researchers.

Ringle briefly mentions a 2002 book by Judge Jay Cristol titled "The Liberty Incident." If Ringle had read the book he would have found conclusions for all the unknowns he talks about in his article. Cristol did an exemplary research job. He presents documentary evidence and competent witnesses of the who, what, why, when and how of each item he discusses. The book persuaded me to conclude that the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was a tragedy caused by command and control errors within the U.S. and Israeli militaries.

-- Robert T. Hewitt

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Ken Ringle's excellent article contains a minor, understandable error. The ship, USS Liberty, is referred to as "a converted 455-foot former World War II Liberty ship." Actually, the Liberty was a converted 455-foot former World War II Victory ship." The ship's name adds some confusion.

Liberty-class and Victory-class hulls shared a prefabricated, welded construction. But the Liberty-class ships were somewhat shorter (441.5 feet in overall length) and slower (11 knots, vs. 18 knots for the Victory class). More important, the Victory-class hulls featured structural reinforcement, in contrast to earlier Liberty-class vessels.

The 1966-67 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships classifies the converted Victory, the USS Liberty, as a "technical research ship"; but the 1969-70 edition of Jane's discloses the ship's operational purpose as electronic intelligence.

The heroism and resourcefulness of the Liberty's crew, whose damage control saved their ship, remains a remarkable achievement. Other vessels of the same construction sometimes sank from much less trauma than a torpedo provides.

-- James P. Cowgill