March 27, 1986

I would like to read to you the following message which I am having sent to the ships and sailors of the 6th Fleet:

During the past 5 days, the 6th Fleet has once again served as the spear and shield of American policy in a troubled and volatile region. The fundamental principle of freedom of the seas -- so important to the economy and security of the free world -- has been upheld in the face of a reckless and illegal Libyan attack. Your quick response and the bravery and professionalism displayed throughout this operation were an inspiration for all of us. I am particularly pleased that you did not suffer any losses. You have sent a message to the whole world that the United States has the will and, through you, the ability to defend the free world's interests. Your determination and tireless response to Libyan threats make this world a safer place.

I am extremely proud to be the Commander in Chief of such professionals. Your courage, sacrifice, and dedication on the frontlines of freedom are recognized and appreciated by all your countrymen. On behalf of all Americans, I say: Well done. Thank you, and we're proud of you. Good luck and Godspeed.

Note: The President spoke with Vice Admiral Kelso on the task force flagship, the U.S.S. ``Coronado,'' which was on duty in the Mediterranean.