CongressD.C.Hot Sheet

Tipton to Trump: Bring home the USS Pueblo

Author: Erin Prater - May 16, 2018 - Updated: May 16, 2018

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In this January 2018 photo, a North Korean military guide leads a tour of the USS Pueblo in Pyongyang, North Korea. The Pueblo, an American spy ship, was attacked and captured by North Korea 50 years ago this year. The iconic spy ship, on display in Pyongyang, is the only commissioned US Navy ship held by a foreign government. (AP Photo/Eric Talmadge)

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is hoping President Donald Trump will request the return of the captured U.S. Navy vessel USS Pueblo during his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We will never forget the horrors that its crew endured at the hands of their captors,” Tipton, a Republican, said in a Wednesday press release, referring to the spy ship that was captured off the North Korean coast on Jan. 23, 1968.

“This remains an important issue for many Pueblo residents and Coloradans, including surviving veterans.”

Also this week, Tipton introduced House Resolution 894, which calls for the ship’s return. Colorado state lawmakers previously have passed resolutions demanding the same.

The U.S. maintained the ship was in international waters when captured until 11 months later, when it reached an agreement that allowed the ship’s 82 surviving service members to be released under conditions that included admitting it encroached on North Korean territory.

Crew members were tortured during their captivity, and one died on the day of the boat’s seizure, according to History.com.

It is the only U.S. Navy ship to be held captive by a foreign government. Though mostly forgotten in the United States, the “Pueblo Incident” for North Korea remains a potent symbol of military success.

The ship sits in the frozen Potong River on the edge of the sprawling “Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum” complex in central Pyongyang, where thousands of North Koreans are brought each day to hear the North’s version of how their country, against all odds, defeated the Americans in the 1950-53 Korean War and has been fighting off the hostile Goliath ever since.

Trump and Jong-un are scheduled to meet June 12 in Singapore. But North Korea threatened Wednesday to scrap the historic summit between the two, saying it has no interest in a “one-sided” affair meant to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Trump appeared to shrug off the warning, saying the U.S. hadn’t been notified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Associated Press