Statement on the Attack Against the U.S.S. Stark

May 18, 1987

I have an announcement here that I would like to make that is aimed directly at you of the press. I know and I share the sense of concern and anger that Americans feel over the yesterday's tragedy in the Persian Gulf. We have protested this attack in the strongest terms and are investigating the circumstances of the incident. When our investigation of the facts is completed, I will report to the American people about this matter and any further steps that are warranted. For that reason I have convened a meeting of the National Security Planning Group to review the entire situation in the Persian Gulf.

In the meanwhile, I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families of the brave men killed and injured yesterday aboard the U.S.S. Stark. Their loss and suffering will not be in vain. The mission of the men of the U.S.S. Stark, safeguarding the interests of the United States and the free world in the Gulf, remains crucial to our national security and to the security of our friends throughout the world. The hazards to our men and women in uniform in the defense of freedom can never be understated. The officers and crew of the U.S.S. Stark deserve our highest admiration and appreciation. And I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for their prompt assistance in responding to the stricken U.S.S. Stark.

This tragic incident underscores the need to bring the Iran-Iraq war to the promptest possible end. We and the rest of the international community must redouble our diplomatic efforts to hasten the settlement that will preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both Iran and Iraq. At the same time, we remain deeply committed to supporting the self-defense of our friends in the gulf and to ensuring the free flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

Note: The President spoke to reporters at 11:38 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. The ship was mistakenly attacked by an Iraqi Air Force plane. Thirty-seven U.S. sailors were killed.