Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
Good evening I'm Oliver North welcome to war stories tonight a story that has all the ingredients of -- Hollywood -- Hi tech espionage Communist balance American military heroes captured -- subjected to brutal torture.
For months on and only to return home for far less than -- while.
That this is no Hollywood moment.
This is the true story of the USS Pueblo and a brave who have -- history.
It's an astonishing tale of -- calculation.
Mistakes that would have triggered yeah.
It's a story about staggering intelligence -- the compromise American security for nearly three decades plus.
As you'll discover tonight it's a story which -- and as yet to be -- It was 1967.
Time with a new Lucy show on the flying on on TV.
British import when he arrived to set the style agenda for women.
-- -- Meanwhile psychedelic rock was dominating the airwaves.
It was also a time of war.
In Vietnam more than 500000 American boys were fighting and dying as other Americans watch nightly at home on TV.
And then there was the Cold War against the Communist Soviet Union.
It was just five years after the Cuban missile crisis nearly triggered a nuclear holocaust.
Appeared in print -- Into an important we -- -- Constitute an explicit threat to the -- and security.
Of all the America.
At a shipyard in Bremerton Washington a small aging transport ship called the Pueblo.
Is being refitted for a top secret operation code named -- people.
With a sister ships the Palm Beach and the banner.
She would spineless Soviets and their settles.
But the Pueblo was more.
And the ship.
I knew this was flat bottomed.
The commander was forty year old -- group.
-- -- -- -- -- He grew up with -- -- ending up but father Flanagan boys town in Nebraska where he played football and dreamed of commanding a submarine.
What did you think.
Well and instead of getting command of the submarine.
You were told to convince -- well I sort of thought I was getting screwed and I know the truth to tide was out.
When we went to solution up so we have to look over the engines appear.
To see you -- 25 year old -- to Russell at exactly the same impression the day he reported to the ship.
We're screwed and I just.
A terrible feeling and just a 176 feet Pueblo was among the smallest ships in the US navy.
Compared to -- 11100 foot carrier enterprise she looked like a -- She was designed -- -- -- about thirty when she was billed as a freighter for the army in 1944.
But now 83 people would be crammed aboard.
It was extremely -- -- the -- in space I was and we have.
They -- for any sign.
With about two and a half feet and between them Brussels slipped just above another scene 41 year old Wayne -- from Kress well Oregon.
-- was on the bottom.
And and I think almost every morning and that I would kick point and -- -- The navy had been using combat ships together intelligence.
-- they drew too much attention from the enemy that ended up excited to.
Our last year or so -- learners and expert on American intelligence activities of the Cold War.
He spent years researching the Pueblo incident that is the author of forthcoming book about.
Something wise -- he's so small and it's -- to sort dilapidated or threatening.
Intelligence collection space was built in the new section of the ship called -- special operations department or -- -- sod -- was configured to.
Conduct electronic intercept of any electromagnetic transmissions with a B radio radar.
Anything electronic but the door was open we were supposed to look the other way and I've -- -- look in the room.
It was like Alice in Wonderland to -- -- -- -- -- violence.
It was filled with the latest surveillance gear but workers have made a serious error.
Installing most of it in the wrong positions.
The example we often used as you'd have to.
-- tuner receiver -- handed starter recorder with your foot and reach across the room or something now.
Thirty year old lieutenant Steven Harris would head up the intelligence operation on board.
This would not be the only problem he and poker face.
That was for example they'll destruct system awaited shift could quickly destroy -- -- crisis were you given any instructions or any capability.
-- No -- we work I wrote a letter before we ever left from the United States asking for -- destruct system.
Where we could.
Install some sort of explosive devices I was turned down for that because -- lack and lack of funds.
There was no incinerators to destroy classified materials all the navy gave me was cut in half fifty gallon oil grumble.
-- the fan tail.
There was an incinerator that we had.
But that was only for routine destruction of materials that could not handle -- That we had.
Intelligence agencies that Graham Pueblo was over a ton of classified -- -- most of which wasn't needed.
Then there was the question of weapons.
In June of 67 Arab Israeli six day war raged in the Middle East.
US intelligence ship liberty was attacked by Israeli jets -- -- including four Americans died and a 177.
Afterward the navy decided to arm the Pueblo but David just to barely functioning fifty caliber machine guns.
So I understand the guns have been surplus for the Marines from Vietnam -- we're worn out it -- Horrible condition.
Our -- made.
Did not know how to operate them.
And despite the navy's claimed it couldn't get a target from fifty yards away I remember on a couple of occasions they would throw fifty gallon from.
Off the ship and I would firing at me.
First were extremely short things -- Wilson.
Ten rounds and -- him.
They never did -- And drama and that's one of the jokes is -- -- -- -- -- Virginia -- on our efforts would.
In addition the crew received almost no training for their mission in part because they were so secret almost no one in the navy knew what the mission Wallace.
We weren't sure where we're going what we have been told it was safe.
What they did not know -- was the Communist North Korea not Russia would be their destination.
And it would be anything but safe so we we face this situation.
All of us untrained unexpected.
Cold you know.
Filter by section