The Seizure and Recovery of the Mayaguez

33 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2014

See all articles by Jordan J. Paust

Jordan J. Paust

University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: 1976


This article addresses the seizure by Cambodia of the U.S. container ship Mayaguez in 1975 when it was found in the territorial sea of an island claimed by Cambodia and the recovery of the vessel by the United States after using armed force. Issues regarding coastal state competencies, innocent passage, and use of force under the U.N. Charter after a U.S. 24-hour ultimatum to Cambodia during their dispute are addressed.

Subsequent correspondence appears in 86 Yale Law Journal 203-213 (1976), and significant new facts, including revelations about super secret containers that were on board the Mayaguez, are addressed in More Revelations About Mayaguez (and its Secret Cargo), 4 Boston College International and Comparative Law Review 63-76 (1981).

Keywords: armed force, attack, Cambodia, CIA, coastal state, crew, dispute, espionage, innocent passage, international law, law of the sea, Mayaguez, merchant vessel, peaceful settlement, seizure, self-defense, territorial sea, use of force, vessel, weapons

Suggested Citation

Paust, Jordan J., The Seizure and Recovery of the Mayaguez (1976). 85 Yale Law Journal 774 (1976), U of Houston Law Center No. 2014-A-62, Available at SSRN:

Jordan J. Paust (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

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United States

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