- The time zone differences between Greenwich, UK (GMT/Zulu) and the Western Pacific in 1987 was 9-10 hours. This meant that as the NATO retaliatory chemical attacks were underway and GSFG headquarters at Wunsdorf was struck by an air-delivered nuclear gravity bomb in the opening moments of midnight D+24, it was mid-morning in Tokyo and Seoul. The rest of the day saw a consistent heightening of tensions as news from Europe and the rest of the world deteriorated with each passing hour. Near panic conditions developed in Tokyo, Singapore and other major cities as large numbers of people decided to leave urban areas practically at the same time. Public transit systems and highways could not stand the strain in many instances.
- On the Sino-Soviet frontier a number of small skirmishes broke out in the early morning hours. Engagements took place between passing patrols and vehicles in most instances. They did not escalate, fortunately enough. As the day continued on, Moscow and Beijing recognized the inherent danger and uncertainty building along their shared border. With nuclear weapons being used in Europe, neither side was eager to risk escalation in the Far East. Soviet and Chinese ground forces were wisely ordered to back down. A de-escalation developed and held firm through the remainder of the day.
- As the hours passed by the international situation worsened. Soviet and US naval forces in the Western Pacific responded accordingly. All Soviet SSBNs had long since departed Petropavlovsk and are positioned in the Sea of Okhotsk bastions guarded by attack subs, ASW aircraft and surface ships Defensive air patrols over and near the bastions increased considerably. Ashore, Voyska-PVO bases eventually reached their highest alert status as air defense interceptors initiated heavy combat air patrols over suspected ingress routes for US strategic bombers. South of Vladivostok in the Sea of Japan, the battlecruiser Frunze, carrier Minsk, and their escorts were positioned to defend the Red Banner Pacific Fleet’s homeport.
The US 7th Fleet now had four aircraft carrier battlegroups on hand. Midway and Ranger in the Sea of Japan. Enterprise and Independence in the North Pacific. Each carrier, as well as a large number of their battlegroup escorts had nuclear weapons available in abundance.
- USAF nuclear preparations ramped up by the afternoon. Victor Alert aircraft were poised and ready at bases in South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. At Andersen AFB on Guam, nuclear-armed B-52s were dispersed to airfields on neighboring islands. When SAC raised its alert posture even higher the B-52s and accompanying KC-135 tankers on Guam and the Northern Marianas were scrambled and flew to their positive control points over the North Pacific. Navy A-6 Intruders armed with B-61s are also launched from carriers late in the evening. Under SIOP, Midway and Ranger’s Intruders were tasked with striking Soviet naval facilities in Vladivostok. The main target for Enterprise and Independence’s bombers was the submarine base at Petropavlovsk. Fortunately, the situation stabilized and all aircraft were recalled to their home carriers and land bases.