Thursday, April 19, 2007


So I promised to post on the USS Pueblo, the only active duty ship in the United States Navy held by a foreign power, but failed to do so this past week. My apologies. I assure you it had nothing to do with the paper we had due yesterday. Nothing at all. It is sheer coincidence that, as soon as the paper is in, I'm back on the blog. Sheer coincidence, I tell you.

Anyway, because there are a bunch of good, concise websites that cover the topic, I'm not going to clog up our blog by repeating what they say (especially since we've had guidance not to do so, which makes sense.) I'll give a rundown of a couple of sites, toss in some pics, include some factoids, and then command you to get back to whatever productive endeavor it is you're supposed to actually be doing right now! Don't know about you all, but I love these type of mini-intrigue stories that occur within the context of larger conflicts.

1) To get started, here is a brief bio about the ship (stats) on, of course, Wikipedia. Not particularly well done, if you ask me, but it does have a section on the bottom about the DPRK offering (IMO seems like blackmail) to repatriate the ship in exchange for high level meetings with the US.

2) If you read no other website on this list, check this one out. Obviously, I can't speak to the accuracy of any of the information, but it gives a very detailed rundown of what actually happened, along with some pics and an explanation of why the President decided not to try to rescue the ship and its crew at the time. Here's one of the crew, 82 men who were held for 11 months, giving the North Koreans the "Hawaiian Good Luck Sign," as we mentioned in class, for which they endured a week of brutal torture, called "Hell Week." This is in addition to the beatings they were given (with lumber), the burns inflicted upon them (with radiators), and the teeth they had kicked in (see the CNN piece below).

3) This site has a few good pics, three of which I'll post here. One is of the Pueblo docked in Pyongyang. The second is of the tour guide who gives tours of the ship. The third is of the captain of the North Korean ship that captured her. Glad she's using a megaphone, seeing as the crowd is all of 2 feet away.

Since it's too large, I won't post the fourth here, but head over and check it out...or fire up Google Earth. There's a wicked cool aerial shot of the Pueblo sitting in Pyongyang now. OK, enough about Google Earth...seeing as they're most likely watching me type this, I don't want to anger them and get incinerated by their laser beams of wrath.

4) Here's an MSNBC item describing Bill Richardson's visit to the Pueblo, which is used for "anti-American education." Coincidentally, Richardson is running for President. He had some success repatriating the remains of several US servicmen killed in the war, which I'm sure will be an incredibly powerful gift to their families. The item gives a brief description of his tour of the Pueblo.

5) Finally, a CNN piece detailing the passing of the Pueblo's captain, Captain Bucher (pictured here), in January of 2004. Apparently, his actions helped the crew survive the experience. To show their gratitude, the Navy recommended that he be court-martialed for failing to defend the Pueblo sufficiently, which was a slow, poorly armed ship and was also covered in ice. (Not to mention that he requested help from US forces that never came). Thankfully, former US Marine, US Senator, and Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee (who served in that capacity from 1969-1972) turned down the court-martial.

Lastly, and I'll stop wasting electrons after this, to answer Professor Larsen's question about why the US didn't attempt to recover the Pueblo when the DPRK sailed (towed) it to its present location. I haven't found anything conclusive. The Wikipedia article above notes that "In October 1999, it was towed from Wonson on the east coast, around the Korean Peninsula, to Nampo on the west coast. This required moving the vessel through international waters. No attempt to recapture the Pueblo was made." I've saw articles that suggest that the US "intelligence community" completely missed the event. However, I haven't found anything authoritative yet. I'll poke around more and see what I can come up with. Wow did this become a long post!

1 comment:

Erin Robinson said...

Thanks for the pictures, very interesting. I wouldn't find it surprising if the intelligence community missed in 1999, an old ship is, I would assume, not one of their main intelligence priorities. On the other hand, you would hope we were paying more attention to what is going on in North Korea than that.