USS Pueblo Wikipedia History:
USS Pueblo (AGER-2) is a Banner-class technical research ship (Navy intelligence) which was boarded and captured by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) on 23 January 1968 in what is known as the Pueblo incident or alternatively as the Pueblo crisis or Pueblo affair.
North Korea stated that she strayed into their territorial waters, but the United States maintains that the vessel was in international waters at the time of the incident."
Executive Officer’s comments:
The Pueblo’s Executive Officer (and Navigator) reaffirms that the USS PUEBLO never ever intruded into the territorial waters of North Korea. His “confession” to the “deep” intrusions claimed by North Korea was obtained under horrific torture. Intrusion “confessions” were always prefaced with the disclaimer: “The charts and records show that we intruded at the following points”. In fact the “Charts and records” do not support the intrusions claimed by North Koreas, but show them to be navigational impossibilities.
More recently, facts have come to light that indicate that USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea at the instigation of the Soviet Union, which was seeking a cryptographic machine onboard to match with a key provided to the Soviets by the spy John Walker.
Had the Pueblo’s Commanding Officer obeyed briefing orders to ‘disengage upon compromise of your mission – return to port’, the Pueblo would have left the Wonson area the day before, and there would have been no “Pueblo Incident”. The first Pueblo mission compromise occurred when two North Korean fishing boats were encountered the day before the capture. The second occurred when they returned later that day with photographers taking pictures while sailing close to the Pueblo. These two “compromises” pierced the planned protection for the Pueblo’s maiden voyage.
The Pueblo was captured because verbal orders were not carried out. There is no question that the Soviets quickly harvested equipment and materials which magnified the Walker spy compromise, and severely impacted the US involvement in South East Asia, specifically the TET offensive. Some have wondered what impact the Pueblo's compromised equipment might have had on the sinking of the USS SCORPION and the loss of her 99 Sailors.
Pueblo, still held by DPRK today, remains a commissioned ship of the United States Navy. North Korea's then leader Kim Jong Il, specified that the USS Pueblo be used to promote anti-Americanism. During the Anniversary celebration of the Korean War, the ship was moved from a berth on the Taedong River to a permanent encasement in the Botong River alongside a war museum in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
North Korea’s return of the USS Pueblo would have been a positive first sign of friendship and gratitude for the food, fuel, and financial aid that American taxpayers have delivered to the North Koreans. However, it appears permanently ensconced and not likely to be repatriated by the current regime.