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Sunday, November 21, 2010

PUEBLO, USS

In January 1968 this U.S. Navy  signals intelligence ship was captured by North Korean sailors while it cruised in international waters off the port of Wonsan. Commanded by Lloyd Bucher, the lightly armed Pueblo was a converted cargo ship that had been commissioned the previous year as an auxiliary with a crew of 83 under the operational control of the National Security Agency.
When the ship was raked by 57mm cannon fire from North Korean gunboats, mortally wounding one member of the crew, Bucher obeyed an order to surrender, and the ship was boarded. The Pueblo was then sailed into Wonsan, where the classified compartments were emptied of documents, cipher machines,  intercept equipment and other electronics. The survivors were repatriated after 11 months of beatings and interrogation, but the ship remains in Nampo where it has become a tourist attraction. Although Commander Bucher was recommended for prosecution by court-martial, the secretary of the navy stayed the proceedings and he remained in the U.S. Navy until his retirement in 1973.