[quote="Monte_RCMS, post:12, topic:203633"]
In October 1999, the Pueblo was towed from Wonson on the east coast, around the Korean Peninsula, to the Nampo on the west coast. This required moving the vessel through international waters. With no Carrier Battle Group available in Korean waters no attempt to recapture the Pueblo was made. This move was done just before the visit of U.S. presidential envoy James Kelly to the capital Pyongyang. The present location of Pueblo is on the Taedong River in Pyongyang, next to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. It is currently the only American naval vessel held in captivity in the world. It is used by North Korea as one of its tourist attractions.
On January 5, 1968, Pueblo left Yokosuka, Japan in transit to Sasebo, Japan from where she left on January 11, 1968 headed northward through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan. She left with specific orders to intercept and conduct surveillance of Soviet naval activity in the Tsushima Strait and to gather signal and electronic intelligence from North Korea.
On January 20 at 5:30pm a North Korean modified SO-1 class Soviet style sub chaser passed within 4000 yards (4 km) of the Pueblo, which was about 15.4 miles southwest of Mayang-do at a position 39°47'N and 128°28.5'W.
In the afternoon of January 22, the two DPRK fishing trawlers (Lenta Class) Rice Paddy 1 and Rice Paddy 2 passed within 30 yards (27 m) of Pueblo. That day, a North Korean unit made an assassination attempt against the South Korean President Park Chung-Hee, but the crew of Pueblo were not informed.
According to the American account, the following day, January 23, Pueblo was approached by a sub chaser and her nationality was challenged; Pueblo responded by raising the U.S. flag. The DPRK vessel then ordered her to stand down or be fired upon. Pueblo attempted to maneuver away, but was considerably slower than the sub chaser. Additionally, three torpedo boats appeared on the horizon and then joined in the chase and subsequent attack. The attackers were soon joined by two MiG-21 fighters. A fourth torpedo boat and a second sub chaser appeared on the horizon a short time later.
The ammunition on Pueblo was stored below decks, and her machine guns were wrapped in cold weather tarpaulins. The machine guns were unmanned, and no attempt was made to man them. Only one crew member, with former army experience, had ever had any experience with .50 cal. machine guns.
The North Korean vessels attempted to board Pueblo, but she maneuvered to prevent this for over two hours and a sub chaser opened fire with a 57 mm cannon, killing one member of the crew. The smaller vessels fired machine guns into Pueblo, which then signaled compliance and began destroying sensitive material.
Radio contact between the Pueblo and the Naval Security Group in Kamiseya, Japan had been ongoing during the incident. As a result, Seventh Fleet command was fully aware of Pueblo's situation. Air cover was promised but never arrived. The Fifth Air Force had no aircraft on strip alert, and estimated a two to three hour delay in launching aircraft. The USS Enterprise was located 510 miles south of the Pueblo, yet its four F-4B aircraft on alert were not equipped for an air-to-surface engangement. Enterprise's captain estimated that 1.5 hours were required to get the converted aircraft into the air. By the time President Lyndon Johnson was awakened, Pueblo had been captured and any rescue attempt would have been futile.
Pueblo followed the North Korean vessels as ordered, but then stopped immediately outside North Korean waters. She was again fired upon, and a U.S. sailor, Fireman Apprentice Duane Hodges, was killed. The ship was boarded by men from a torpedo boat and a sub chaser.
There was dissent among government officials in the U.S. regarding how to handle the situation. Rep. Mendel Rivers said the Pueblo should be returned immediately while Senator Gale McGee said the U.S. should wait for more information and not make "spasmodic response[s] to aggravating incidents."
USS Pueblo in North Korean custody on Jan 26, 1968 (CIA Lockheed A-12 Imagery)
On December 23, 1968 the crew was taken by buses to the DMZ border with South Korea and ordered to walk south across the "Bridge of No Return". They are released one-at-a-time, 15 seconds apart across the Bridge of No Return in the Joint Security Area of the DMZ in Panmunjon, Korea. Exactly eleven months after being taken prisoner, the Captain led the long line of crewmen, followed at the end by the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Ed Murphy, the last man across the bridge.
Good posting; very informative.