The Aral Sea was one of several Soviet cargo ships carrying nuclear missiles bound for Cuba.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union ordered that a fleet protect the Soviet cargo ships. In response, the U.S. established an embargo line around Cuba that, if any vessel crossed, a U.S. fleet would fire upon.
At the height of the Crisis, the Aral Sea was heading for the embargo line. Not long before, the ship was commandeered by the Hellfire Club (specifically by Azazel), and its captain and crew were killed. Sebastian Shaw hoped that the ship would breach the embargo so that the U.S. fleet would fire upon it, destroy it, and have the Russian fleet retaliate - thus igniting WWIII.
After the Russian flagship fails to contact the Aral Sea following new orders to deescalate, Charles Xavier intervenes by telepathically controlling the flagship's political officer to fire a missile and destroy the cargo ship, thus temporarily averting a sparking point in the Crisis.
- The vessel is named for the former inland Aral Sea, now lying in modern-day Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.