The Capture of the USS Pueblo

The Incident, the Aftermath and the Motives of North Korea


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About the Book

For President Lyndon Johnson, 1968 was a year of calamity, including the hijacking of the USS Pueblo in international waters off North Korea. After a fierce attack by the North Korean Navy, the lightly armed spy ship was captured and its 83 crewmen taken hostage, imprisoned and tortured for nearly a year before being released. How and why did the Navy, the National Security Agency and the Johnson administration place the Pueblo in such an untenable situation? What drove Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s autocrat, to gamble on hijacking a ship belonging to the world’s most powerful nation? Drawing on extensive research, including summaries of White House meetings and conversations, the author answers these questions and reviews the events and flawed decisions that led to Pueblo’s capture.

About the Author(s)

James Duermeyer is the award-winning author of five historical novels. He is a retired U.S. Navy Commander and lives in the Fort Worth area of Texas.

Bibliographic Details

James Duermeyer

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 209
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7540-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3555-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Abbreviations ix
Preface 1
Introduction 4

One—The Ships 7
Destroyers and Liberty Ships  7
USS Liberty  8
Clickbeetle—The Spy Ships  16
The Pueblo  19
Orders  24
Rule of the Sea  26

Two—Leadership and Risk Analysis 28
Leadership  28
Risk Analysis  31

Three—Reactions 50
On the Pueblo  50
Within the Military Chain of Command  59
Within the Intelligence Community  61
In South Korea  63
In the Situation Room, Washington  65
At the White House  67
Reaction of Congress  87
Reaction of the Public  90

Four—Juche—Why North Korea Seized the Pueblo 99
The Washington Viewpoint  99
The North Korean Perspective  100
Juche  103
Elements of Juche  104
The Propaganda of North Korea  106
The Effect of Juche and Kim’s Propaganda on the Treatment of the Pueblo Prisoners  109

Five—Negotiations for Freedom 132

Six—The Navy Court of Inquiry 151

Epilogue 163
Chapter Notes 173
Sources Consulted 189
Index 195

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Duermeyer’s book is well-written and researched. He writes easily and the narrative flows smoothly. He deals deftly with the various issues involved…definitive…highly recommended”—The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord

• “Fascinating…outstanding…excellent…highly recommended”—Nautical Research Journal