Operation Fluid Drive

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Operation Fluid Drive was a non-combatant evacuation operation led by the United States to evacuate American citizens and other foreign nationals from Beirut, Lebanon, during the Lebanese Civil War.[1] On 20 June 1976, USS Spiegel Grove transported 110 Americans and 157 nationals of other countries from Lebanon to Piraeus, Greece.[2] On 27 July, 300 additional persons, including 155 Americans, were evacuated to Piraeus.[3] The cruiser USS Little Rock was present off the Lebanese coast during both evacuations.[4]

First evacuation[edit]

United States President Gerald Ford monitors the evacuation of American citizens from Beirut.

United States President Gerald Ford ordered commencement of the operation on 20 June 1976 at 1:23 a.m. EDT.[5] Fighting on land routes to Damascus, Syria, disrupted the original plan of a road convoy evacuation.[6]

At 10:37 a.m. Beirut time, an unarmed United States Navy landing craft opened its bow ramp at Bain Militaire to allow 263 evacuees to board.[5] U.S. diplomats in Lebanon had finished the truce arrangements needed for the evacuation only hours beforehand.[7] The evacuees were unarmed, and were escorted by numerous Palestinian guerrillas and leftist Lebanese army soldiers.[7][6] One family refused to continue with the evacuation when told, incorrectly, that their dog was not allowed.[2]

After a 25-minute trip, the landing craft reached USS Spiegel Grove, which remained three miles offshore.[7] The United States Sixth Fleet flagship, USS Little Rock, pulled alongside USS Spiegel Grove to greet the refugees on board.[7] The United States convoy consisted of five ships in total, and three Soviet warships, including Kerch, shadowed the fleet.[7] USS Spiegel Grove then sailed to Piraeus, Greece, arriving on 22 June 1976.[6][8]

Second evacuation[edit]

On 26 July 1976, the Sixth Fleet prepared to evacuate an additional 500 Americans and others from Lebanon.[9] Dockside security was again provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization.[9] Although 500 people were signed up to leave the country, only 155 Americans and 145 nationals of other countries were evacuated.[3]


  1. ^ "CBS Evening News for Sunday, Jun 20, 1976". Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Evacuees aboard ship in party mood". The Miami News. 21 June 1976. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Lebanon Truce Signed". The Palm Beach Post. Beirut. 30 July 1976. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "USS Little Rock 1975 Beirut Civil War". USS Little Rock Association. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Americans Flee Beirut". St. Petersburg Times. Beirut. 21 June 1976. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "263 leave Lebanon aboard U.S. vessel". The Gazette. Beirut. 21 June 1976. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e McManus, Doyle (22 June 1976). "U.S. Rescue Ship in 'Fluid Drive' From Lebanon Peril". The Schenectady Gazette. Aboard USS Spiegel Grove. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  8. ^ MEED Arab Report. London: Middle East Economic Digest Ltd. 1976. 
  9. ^ a b "6th Fleet to evacuate 500 from Lebanon". The Morning Record. Beirut. 27 July 1976. Retrieved 30 October 2012.