The USS Pueblo (AGER-2)/(AKL-44)/(FP-344) was an 850-ton environmental research ship, built in Kewaunee
, in 1944 during World War II
. Originally used by the United States Army
as a cargo ship (FP-344), in 1966 the ship was transferred to the United States Navy
, where she spent some time designated as (AKL-44) before being officially commissioned by the Navy as USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in 1967, after being converted to a research vessel.
The Pueblo's first mission after a brief training/shakedown cruise was to go to the Far East to engage in electronic intelligence operations. On January 23, 1968, while off the coast of Wonsan, North Korea, while in international waters, the USS Pueblo was attacked by North Korean forces and seized. Crewman Duane Hodges was killed in the assault, and the other 82 crewmen and officers were held in captivity by North Korea.
North Korea claimed that the USS Pueblo was operating inside North Korean territorial waters, and was thus subject to detention. The United States Navy, however, strongly denied these charges, stating that the USS Pueblo was under orders not to enter North Korean waters.
After being held for eleven months in often inhumane conditions, the crew of the USS Pueblo were finally repatriated to the United States. North Korea, during the time they had the crew of the Pueblo in their custody, took many opportunities to use the captured crew as propaganda.
The USS Pueblo was never returned to the United States. Since its capture in 1968, the Pueblo was converted into a mobile museum for North Korea, and was exhibited at Wonsan, and Hungham for thirty years. She currently resides in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
The United States Navy has never stopped viewing the capture of the USS Pueblo as being illegal, nor has it stopped considering the ship property of the United States. To date, there has been no reprisal of any kind against North Korea by the United States for the act of seizing the USS Pueblo, nor any attempt to have the ship returned to the United States Navy.
In April of 2002, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of the United States Senate introduced a resolution that would have the United States State Department demand of North Korea that the USS Pueblo be returned. The resolution is currently (May 18, 2002) being looked over by the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations.