DENVER (CBS4) - Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican who represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, introduced a bill Monday that would return the USS Pueblo to the United States. The ship was taken captive by North Korea in 1968.
On January 23, 1968, the Pueblo was attacked and captured by North Korean naval forces during what was supposed to be a routine patrol. Her mission was to conduct surveillance of Soviet Navy movements in the area, and to collect any intelligence on North Korea. Four ships, two submarines, and fighter jets surrounded and captured the vessel. All 83 hands aboard were taken captive.
Exactly 11 months after the capture, U.S. negotiators arranged the release of the 82 surviving crew members. Part of the arrangement was that the U.S. admitted improper intrusion into North Korean territory and that the ship would stay moored in the capital city of Pyongyang. The ship is still docked on the river today and has become a tourist attraction.
"For 53 years, North Korea has unlawfully held the USS Pueblo captive, displaying it as a war trophy in its capital city of Pyongyang," Boebert said in a news release Monday. "Named for Pueblo, Colorado, bringing home the ship is a personal priority, as well as an important national effort to honor fallen Petty Officer Duane Hodges and display American resolve."
The USS Pueblo was named for the city of Pueblo. The ship is still actively commissioned by the U.S. Navy and is the only active vessel held by enemy forces.
The bill calls on President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to make the return of the USS Pueblo to the United States a major discussion point in future negotiations with North Korea.
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