North Korea

US spy ship captured in in 1968 to go on display in North Korea

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 1:45am

If there was ever any doubt about what happened to the only US Navy ship that is being held by a foreign government, North Korea has cleared it up. It is in Pyongyang. And it looks like it is there to stay.

With a fresh coat of paint and a new home along the Pothong River, the USS Pueblo, a spy ship seized off North Korea's east coast in the late 1960s, is expected to be unveiled as the centrepiece of a renovated war museum to commemorate what North Korea calls "Victory Day", the 60th anniversary today of the signing of an armistice that ended the fighting in the Korean war.

The ship is North Korea's greatest cold war prize. It hopes the Pueblo will be a potent symbol of how the country has stood up to the power of the United States, once in an all-out ground war and now with its push to develop the nuclear weapons and sophisticated missiles it needs to threaten the US mainland.

Many of the crew who served on the vessel, then spent 11 months in captivity in North Korea, want to bring the Pueblo home. Throughout its history, they argue, the navy's motto has been "don't give up the ship". The Pueblo, in fact, is still listed as a commissioned US Navy vessel.

But with relations generally fluctuating in a narrow band between bad to dangerously bad, the United States has made little effort to get back its ship. At times, outsiders were not even sure where North Korea was keeping the ship or what it planned to do with it.


The planned display of the ship by North Korea hangs over the heads of the crew members who have long campaigned for its return.