Central America/Caribbean D+0-D+6 (9 July-15 July, 1987)


D+0 (9 July, 1987)

Eastern Bloc merchant ships are banned from entering the Panama Canal. Further, no East Bloc vessels can enter Limon Bay on the Atlantic side of the canal, or the Gulf of Panama on the Pacific side. The restrictions were initially intended to be temporary, but after the mysterious sinking of a Hungarian merchant ship in the Suez Canal, it becomes permanent.


The Honduran government reports troop movement and military activity on the Nicaraguan side of the border separating the two countries.


Soviet forces based in Cuba remain quiet. No aircraft leave Cuban airspace, and no warships stray beyond its territorial waters.


D+1 (10 July, 1987)

A passenger cruise ship sinks 80 miles west of Jamaica. Rescued crew and passengers report there was a large explosion on the port quarter and the ship began to list, and take on water shortly after. The US Navy suspects the ship was attacked by a Soviet or Cuban submarine.


Sandinista troops stage raids into Honduras from Nicaraguan territory.


Mortar rounds explode in the vicinity of Gatun Locks in the Canal Zone.


D+2 (11 July, 1987)

Fidel Castro gives a speech in Havana. He offers the ‘support and love of the Cuban people to our socialist brothers in Eastern Europe and Russia.’ However, Castro then declares he will not permit Cuba to be used as a ‘platform of war’ by either side in this conflict.


DEA agents discover that two known Cuban intelligence officers have been meeting with Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega in Panama City over the past two weeks.


The Honduran government officially requests a US military assistance.


D+3 (12 July, 1987)

The Pentagon announces additional US troops will be moved to Central America to assist in stabilizing the region, and bolstering defenses in the Canal Zone. Two battalions from the 7th Infantry Division (Light) are slated to go to Honduras. Military police units from the Alabama, and North Carolina National Guards will be deployed to Panama.


A Greek-flagged merchant ship is torpedoed off of the Costa Rican coast.


A dogfight occurs in Cuban airspace, apparently between Cuban and Soviet MiGs.


D+4 (13 July, 1987)

The first US troops arrive in Honduras


Fidel Castro discreetly informs the US government that he is not a party to the war and is working to restrain Soviet troops based in Cuba from undertaking offensive operations. He tells of a Soviet Tango class submarine that departed Cuba one day before hostilities began, and reveals his suspicions that the Tango is responsible for the attacks in the Carib over the past three days.


A Nicaraguan MiG-21 Fishbed penetrates Honduran airspace and shoots down a Honduran Air Force A-37 Dragonfly.


D+5 (14 July, 1987)

Throughout the day the sound of gunfire and explosions resonates across Panama. Small bands of paramilitary troops wearing unidentifiable uniforms attack military and political targets in the Canal Zone. Nearly every one of these attacks is defeated and prisoners are taken. It later becomes clear the enemy force is a combination of Sandinistas, and Panamanians loyal to Noriega, all by Cuban officers with combat experience.


Given the events taking place in Panama, and farther north along the Honduran-Nicaraguan border, US Southern Command’s commander-in-chief General Frederick F. Woerner Jr, US Army, asks the Pentagon to chop a number of US Air Force fighter squadrons to his command.


D+6 (15 July, 1987)

A US Navy Reserve P-3 Orion sinks a Soviet Tango class conventionally-powered attack sub in the Gulf of Mexico


The 184th TFS (F-16A Alabama ANG) 171st TFS (F-4D Phantom II Michigan ANG) and the 198th TFS (A-7D Corsair II Puerto Rico ANG) are issued warning orders for deployment and future operations in US Southern Command’s AOR.

4 Replies to “Central America/Caribbean D+0-D+6 (9 July-15 July, 1987)”

    1. Yep. Central America was well-suited for light infantry. Plus, units from the 7th were sent to Honduras in ’88 when Nicaragua was threatening to invade, and the division saw action in Panama the following year.

      The aircraft situation would’ve just been to use what ANG and Reserve squadrons were available and not tagged for Europe.


  1. That’s some real interesting gamesmanship Fidel’s engaging in. On the one hand extending an olive branch to the US, on the other, fomenting actions against them in the Canal Zone.

    I wonder if the Administration told the Mexicans, look, if we have to move an AD or an ID over land, we’ll be using your coastal highways. Don’t be on them if we have to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fidel struck me as becoming more of a realist as he got older. So he would’ve played both sides off as much as possible if things had ever turned hot.

      If we had any armored divisions left to send south 🙂 Everything heavy would’ve been heading to Europe at that point. Besides, Central America is perfect ground for light infantry divisions. They need to get in on the fun too.

      Liked by 1 person

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