WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 1964 (UPI) - President Johnson today issued shoot-to-kill orders to the Navy force patrolling international waters off Communist North Viet-Nam where the U.S. Destroyer Maddox was fired on yesterday by Red gunboats. In a terse announcement, Johnson also said he was sending another destroyer to the Gulf of Tonkin to join the Maddox and that he was providing combat air cover for the ships.
Johnson said the destroyers and aircraft would be ordered "to attack any force which attacks them in international waters" and "to attack with the objective of not only driving off the force but of destroying it."
Asked if the new orders involved so-called "hot pursuit" of attackers into Communist-held waters, Press Secretary George E. Reedy Jr. said the White House was standing on Johnson's announcement.
"The statement speaks for itself," Reedy said.
The Maddox was not damaged, but U.S. officials said the attack boats, identified as Communist North Viet-Namese, were damaged by the fire of the destroyer's five-inch guns and four F-8 jet fighters from the U.S. Carrier Ticonderoga.
Johnson said today he had ordered the Navy to double its force in the area "by adding an additional destroyer to the one already on patrol."
He said "these instructions were conveyed yesterday to the appropriate people and they will be carried out."
Johnson issued his terse announcement after discussions at the White House yesterday with military and diplomatic advisers including Rusk, Deputy Defense Secretary Cyrus Vance and Gen. Earle G. Wheeler of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The surprise attack took place 35 miles off the coast of Communist-held North Viet-Nam but occurred in international waters. U.S. ships have customarily patrolled in these waters and the reason for the Red attack was not clear.