In 1973 Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi claimed the Gulf of Sidra as territorial waters. Gaddafi named it The Line of Death, crossing this line would invite a military response. The USS John F. Kennedy was deployed near the Libyan coast. Late in the morning on January 4, 1989, Combat Air Patrol station was taken by two F-14A Tomcats belonging to the VF-32 Swordsmen squadron.Due to the presence of the Kennedy battle group near the Libyan coast, pilots were advised to expect some hostilities.
Tensions between Libya and the U.S. were high after the U.S. accused Libya of building a chemical weapons plant near Rabta, causing the U.S. to deploy the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) near its coast.
The engagement is known as Gulf of Sidra incident.