January 23, 1968, North Korean
gunboats surrounded the USS Pueblo in the Sea of Japan, setting off an
international incident that threatened to destabilize the entire
The slow, lightly armed spy ship came under a withering cannon barrage
that killed one and wounded ten, including the captain. At the end of
day, the Pueblo surrendered all her sensitive spying instruments and
documents without firing a shot, in what may have been one of the
intelligence disasters of the last half of the twentieth
Matter of Accountability,
author Trevor Armbrister has re-created the amazing events that
in the first surrender of a U.S. Navy ship since the War of 1812, from
the ship itself -- a nearly-defenseless former coastal freighter that
had to be hand-steered -- to the unheeded warnings from North Korea
U.S. spy ships, to the lack of air support when the ship came under
Eleven months later, the North Koreans released the tortured crew after
they had signed confessions. Some were nearly blind from starvation.
United States immediately revoked a grudging apology, and started an
into what had happened.
initial court of inquiry recommended
that the captain be tried in a court martial, but the Secretary of the
Navy declined, perhaps fearing what author Trevor Armbrister details in
A Matter of Accountability. With over
starting with the skipper, Commander Lloyd M. (Pete) Bucher, to
of Defense Clark Clifford, Armbrister painstakingly reveals every
of the appalling behind-the-scenes blunders that made the Pueblo a
ship from the very beginning. A Matter of Accountability
is a must-read
for anyone who has enjoyed Tom Clancy's high-stakes naval thrillers.
A Matter of Accountability
True Story of
the Pueblo Affair
Lyons Press, 2004.