The SECRET Story of the U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence in World War II
"Operation Cincinnati" was a full scale exercise conducted by Maritime Unit (MU) Operational Swimmer Group 2 (OSG 2) just after completion of team training in Nassau, Bahamas to test the harbor defenses of the Navy in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and the Caribbean Theater. In addition to testing Navy defenses, these "exercises" were designed to test the effectiveness of the new Operational Swimmer Groups ability to conduct infiltration and sabotage operations by sea against an enemy before they were to deploy to the China, Burma, India Theater in the Fall of 1944.
In Kermit Roosevelt’s “War Report of the OSS” he stated that:
“MU collaborated with the Navy in experiments conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba designed to test the effectiveness of harbor defenses, such as submarine, anti-torpedo, and various other types of underwater nets. In these tests, the lengthy training showed commendable results, because the swimmers were able to circumvent the net defenses in each instance. An additional point of value was proof that the Navy sound detection gear did not reveal the presence of underwater swimmers.”
These "exercises" designed to test the effectiveness of Navy defenses were the first of their kind in the maritime environment and became the foundation for what would later become "Red Cell" operations conducted by U.S. special forces and teams.
Modern "Red Cell" operations are designed to test the effectiveness of security procedures, tactics and personnel. Although it is widely thought that the first "Red Cell" team was created by U.S. Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko, Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Six, in 1984; in fact the declassified records from the Office of Strategic Services Maritime Unit and Kermit Roosevelt's assessment of them in the "War Report of the OSS" indicate that OSG 2 conducted the first such operations . These MU Operational Swimmer Groups were initially designed and organized to conduct covert, sabotage, and espionage operations against the enemy. "Operation Cincinnati" was an attempt to infiltrate and otherwise test the security of U.S. Navy defenses in GITMO almost 40 years before the Navy commissioned Commander Marcinko to set up Red Cell teams in 1984 in order to test the Navy's vulnerability to terrorism.
LT John Booth (USCGR) was designated as leader of the "Red Group" (see declassified OPORDER on the right) and placed in command of the operation and entire "assault group" to include the mothership.
According to the OPORDER each man of the "Red Team" shall:
...be equipped with wrist watch, waterproof compass, sheath knife, fins, sneakers, and face plates. Each group shall carry waterproof flashlights. Each anchorage detail...shall carry M-3's in waterproof covers. Anchorage detail of Red shall carry side-arms. Waterproofing of all demolitions shall be inspected by LT French (USMC)...
The above photo is a member of OSG 2 in the Sleeping Beauty penetrating the net defenses deployed by the Navy . The member is submerged underwater wearing the Lambertsen Unit navigating underneath the net defenses. (July 1944)
 Roosevelt, Kermit. War Report of the OSS.
 Operation Cincinnati OPORDER
"Operation Cincinnati" Attack Order from Commander Caribbean Theater of Operations
Source: Bennett/Booth Interview 3 June 2007
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