Today’s NDC Blog post concerns a painful episode in modern U.S. history, an earlier chapter of a story that has been in the news frequently over the past months. On January 23, 1968, units of the North Korean Navy captured the environmental research ship USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in international waters off the east coast of North Korean near the port city of Wonson while she was conducting SIGINT operations in the area. One American sailor died during the capture, and the surviving 82 officers and men of the ship were imprisoned at two different locations in North Korea until their release on December 23, 1968. The North Koreans kept the Pueblo, and she was moored initially in the port city of Wonson. In 1996, the North Koreans moved the ship around the Korean peninsula and up the country’s west coast to a new berth in the Taedong River in the capital city of Pyongyang. Pueblo is now moored outside a new museum in the North Korean capital, however she is still on the Naval Vessel Registry as an active commissioned warship in the U.S. Navy.
In this post, the NDC presents two drawings of the Pueblo which is, I believe, their first public appearance. These drawings are a part of the Pueblo historical record series created by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Security Group. The NDC is in the process of organizing and declassifying this record series, although we anticipate only a small number of records will be declassified from this effort.
As for the drawings themselves, in terms familiar to naval architects and ship afficianadoes we are presenting the Pueblo’s inboard and outboard profiles. An inboard profile is a cutaway view of the ship—you are seeing her as if she had been cut with a knife down her centerline. An outboard profile is a view of the ship as she would appear to an observer outside the skin of the ship. As you can see from the poor quality of these digital reproductions, these drawings are not originals. They are thermofax copies made either by or for Naval Security Group as part of their Pueblo history file. The drawings do not contain the ship plan data block usually found on drawings of this type. As a result, we don’t know the date of the plans, but they probably date from 1966, about when the ship started her conversion from a light cargo ship (AKL) to an AGER. We are sure, however, that the drawings are of Pueblo as her outboard profile carries the GER 2 hull designation. Ironically, the ship was actually commissioned on May 13, 1967 with her former hull designation AKL-44 freshly painted on her bow.
I wish to thank NDC staff member Gary Denholm and the NARA Photo Imaging Lab staff Cecilia Epstein and Phillip Corrigan for conserving these drawings and digitizing them.