(Official U.S. Navy Photograph #11929208, courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command)
Guide to the Richard Rockwell Pratt Pueblo Court of Inquiry Scrapbook, 1969-1976
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
(Original Guide by Mary R. Catalfamo, 1989)
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
Richard Rockwell Pratt was born in San Diego, California on October 17, 1914 to Colonel Harold Pratt, USMC, and Marguerite (Rockwell) Pratt. After attending the Severn School in Severna Park, Maryland, Pratt was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Indiana in 1932.
Following graduation from the Academy in June 1936, Pratt was initially assigned to the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Chester (CA-27). After a brief stay aboard U.S.S. Sicard (Destroyer: DD-346), Pratt was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet in October 1938, for service aboard the cruiser U.S.S. Augusta, where he stayed until the outbreak of World War II.
Shortly after the United States entered World War II, Pratt reported to U.S.S. Lansdowne (Destroyer: DD-486), which was fitting out at the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Kearny, New Jersey. In January 1943, he was transferred to another destroyer under construction, U.S.S. Hudson (DD-475), for service as Executive Officer and Navigator. On December 26, Pratt received command of the Hudson, serving in the Pacific Theater in the waters around the Solomon Islands, Guam, Okinawa, and the Philippine Sea. For his distinguished service during the War, Pratt was twice awarded the Navy Cross.
After the cessation of hostilities, Pratt spent nearly three years as an instructor at the Naval Academy in the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery. Upon completing his tour at the Academy, Pratt attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He then went on to serve on the staffs of Commander, Destroyer Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Commander in Chief, Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean; and Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group. In July 1956, Pratt returned to the Naval Academy as Executive Officer for nearly two years.
Beginning in 1959, Pratt received further instruction at the National War College in Washington, DC, after which he assumed command of the destroyer leader U.S.S. Norfolk (DL-1), in June 1960. One year later, he was transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel as Assistant Director for Captain Detail. In August 1962, Pratt transferred again, to the Office of Naval Communications, where he served as Deputy Director for Communications. After serving as Commander, Amphibious Group Three, Pratt returned to communications as Director of Communications-Electronics on the Joint Staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command, and as Chief of the Defense Communications Agency in Europe.
In July 1968, Pratt was transferred back to amphibious operations to serve as Commander, Amphibious Training Command for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It is during this tour that Pratt, by now a Rear Admiral, served as a member of the five-admiral court of inquiry convened to investigate the circumstances surrounding the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo (Environmental Research Ship: AGER-2). Following the adjournment of the court of inquiry, Pratt assumed command of Service Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, with additional duty as Navy Deputy to the Department of Defense Manager for Manned Space Flight Support Operations.
Pratt retired from the U.S. Navy effective June 1, 1971 with the rank of Rear Admiral. Richard Rockwell Pratt died on May 25, 2006.
Scope and Content Note
Rear Admiral Richard Rockwell Pratt's Pueblo Court of Inquiry Scrapbook spans from 1969 to 1976, with the bulk of the material dating from January to June 1969. The scrapbook describes the proceedings, testimony, and findings of the U.S. Navy court of inquiry into the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) in January 1968.
The scrapbook is composed primarily of press clippings, with lesser numbers of letters, photographs, official statements, and press releases, as well as an event program, and a greeting card.
The Pueblo Court of Inquiry Scrapbook was compiled by Rear Admiral Richard Rockwell Pratt, who sat on the court of inquiry that examined the conduct of the officers and crew of the U.S.S. Pueblo. Through accounts of the testimony of the ship's officers and crew, the scrapbook focuses largely on the events of the capture of the Pueblo, and the subsequent ordeal of the officers and crew, including the culpability of Commander Lloyd Bucher and his officers; criticism of the Pueblo's equipment and lack of a destruct system for sensitive material; efforts to destroy classified documents; lack of support from the Navy and the U.S. 5th Air Force; interrogation and torture of the ship's officers and crew by the North Koreans; and potential violations of the U.S. Code of Military Conduct by the ship's crew regarding the release of classified information while in captivity. The scrapbook also focuses in part on specific testimony and other aspects of the court of inquiry, including the testimony of Rear Admiral Frank L. Johnson; tours of the Pueblo's sister ship, U.S.S. Palm Beach; and secrecy surrounding some of the court proceedings. To a lesser extent, the scrapbook delves into some of the results of the court of inquiry proceedings, such as changes in the U.S. Military Code of Conduct; the installation of destruction devices for classified materials aboard other U.S. Navy vessels; Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee's refusal to court martial any of the Pueblo's officers; and further studies and investigations by the Pentagon and House of Representatives. Also included are materials relating to reactions to the proceeding, including those by Admiral John J. Hyland in 1976, and the contined public support for Commander Lloyd Bucher.
Included in the scrapbook are several official statements by high ranking Navy personnel, including Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee's statement on the findings of the court; and the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas H. Moorer's statements before the January 1969 meeting of the American Bar Foundation, and the House Committee on Armed Services Special Subcommittee to Inquire into the Pueblo Incident; as well as statements by the president of the court of inquiry, Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen, Jr., and Commander Lloyd M. Bucher. The scrapbook also includes photographs of artist renderings of the court proceedings and North Korean torture tactics.