Kill rats and show off Coast Guard firepower, senator says
The Coast Guard cutter Munro intercepted a pirate fishing vessel off Alaska last month.
October 5th, 2011
01:34 PM ET

Kill rats and show off Coast Guard firepower, senator says

What do you do with a rat-infested, stateless pirate fishing vessel? Blow it up to show off the firepower of the Coast Guard's newest, toughest cutters, a U.S. senator says.

Crew from the Coast Guard cutter Munro seized the Bangun Perkasa, which was not operating under a national flag, 2,600 miles off Alaska in September after it was suspected of engaging in fishing with drift nets on the high seas, according to the Coast Guard. Drift net fishing is illegal because the nets indiscriminately kill massive amounts of fish and other marine life such as endangered whales and turtles.

The vessel was found to have been using 10 miles of drift nets and had 22 tons of squid and 30 shark carcasses aboard, the Coast Guard said. The fishing boat and its crew of 22 were towed to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands.

And that's when the Coast Guard found evidence of rats on board.

Ships with rats aboard are not allowed into Alaska ports, so the Bangun Perkasa sits at anchor three miles out of Dutch Harbor. Its crew is in custody ashore.

But the rats are still aboard, and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska says they should be dispatched to the deep along with the ship and its drift nets.

“It would send an unambiguous signal that pirate fishing is unacceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated.  It will prevent this rust bucket from ending up back on the market where it most likely would only fall into the hands of some other pirate," Begich said in a statement.

Shelling the vessel would also give the Coast Guard a chance to show off its newest ships, the National Security Cutters, the senator said.

“In addition to solving the rat problem, using the Bangun Perkasa for gunnery practice could demonstrate the advanced firepower of the Coast Guard’s new National Security Cutters,” Begich said in his statement.

The Coast Guard deployed the new National Security Cutters, the Bertholf and the Waesche, last year.

The Coast Guard deployed its first two National Security Cutters, the Bertholf, and the Waesche, last year. Three more are in the works. The new cutters replace 40-year-old High Endurance Cutters at a time when the service faces new missions.

The new cutters have a crew of 113, a range of 12,000 miles, a helicopter flight deck and small-boat launch platform, and their command-and-control systems permit increased interoperability with the departments of Homeland Security and Defense, the Coast Guard says.

In a release announcing the capture of the Bangun Perkasa, Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, the Coast Guard director of response policy, saluted the 40-year-old Munro and hailed the arrival of the new ships.

“This case demonstrates how our cutters and crews allow the United States to maintain constant vigil far from the U.S. mainland and reflects the value of having a maritime service that can protect U.S. interests including the environment, security and safety regionally and globally,” the admiral said.

“Our high endurance cutters routinely operate from South America to the Bering Sea conducting alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counternarcotics and homeland security operations for extended periods of time. The Munro, and cutters like it, are more than 40 years old and slated for replacement. National Security Cutters that are faster, better equipped, more durable, safer and more efficient than their predecessor, will continue to ensure U.S. interests are protected today and for decades to come.”

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Filed under: Alaska • Environment • Pirates • U.S. Coast Guard
soundoff (363 Responses)
  1. unretired05

    How far can a rat swim?

    October 6, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Several miles. Any rats not blown up could make it to shore, if they don't get eaten by fish.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • MrSmith2U

      2.9 miles

      October 6, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Rats can swim 1/2 mile in open sea and tread water for 3 days. They can dive 100 feet underwater and hold their breath for as long as 15 minutes. (source: google)

      October 6, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. Just do it.

    Why all the debate? Just get it done!

    October 6, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Damian

      You wonder how anything gets done if sinking a stateless pirate ship is a problem. Sink it and ask questions later.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chettahe

    Sink that stinking boat, and do it as soon as possible.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      but remove the nets first! they could easily become drift nets.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. aleutiaflyer

    I am not surprised to see a pirate fishing vessel plying our waters. With the world's economy in shambles, we will only see more of an increase. Thank you for the limited capability our Coast Guard is given to at least make a dent. But the selfish practice of illegal fishing will continue. It will take the joint effort of all the maritime nations to put a stop to this madness. I say we sink that damn ship and use it as an artificial reef haven and prosecute the crew.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • not our waters

      the EEZ its 200 miles off the coastline - not 2600

      October 6, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      The Horn of Africa is not our waters either, so I guess we should just let pirates take over any ships they want as long as it's not in our waters...

      October 6, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. serita

    Now do what we do best and give these pirates a slap on the hand, some milk and cookies and send them back to where they came from so that they can start the whole bloody mess all over again on another ship.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. Walker

    Get 'er done!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony

    Save the rats, prep the vessel, put politicians and lawyers on board, THEN sink the thing! #justsayin

    October 6, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cato

    What's the holdup? Tow it 25 miles out and shoot a hole into it already.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. pooh_just_is

    I disagree with the senator. We don't need to send a message. This mentality that we are above others and need to control them regardless of their behavior, is just as sick as their behavior. The concept that we can just litter the ocean with ships is another crime. How about being responsible. Board the ship, kill the rats, without polluting the sea. Tow the ship to a junkyard and remove it from the sea. Recycle the ship into things like, wind mills, or solar panel assemblies. Or maybe use the steel to build a sculpture of a squid or something. Don't fight capitalism with brutality. And stop calling yourself a democrat.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • MacRaven

      We do need to control their behavior since they obviously can't. Their behavior IS beneath us. Buy a clue.
      Don't be so open minded that your brain falls out.
      However I agree, recycle the ship, metal is worth something.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • fred

      why exactly would we want a sculpture of a squid? haha. And making solar and wind stuff isn't going to help much. That wouldn't be cost effective at all. Think of all the price that would have to go into being able to do that stuff.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      So how do you know you will kill all rats on board? If you bring it to ground, trust me the few rats will survive and now you will cause an infestation in Alaska. I don't blame them for keeping infested rats from port. Also, have you ever heard of the plague? Besides, you will still have to discard of the rat remains. Think of it like a home that is infested. If it is past a certain point, you are left with no recourse but to demolish the home. You can't get into all the nooks throughout a ship. Please don't think you speak for all Democrats because I think this is a good idea. Sink it and make it into a reef. Thank you Coast Guard for doing a great job!

      October 6, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Gateway

      You must be kidding. The senator is absolutely correct in that piece of crap should be destroyed with all the vermin aboard. ASAP. I hate to think of other rat infested rust buckests coming to our terrortorial waters with the possibility of polluting our lands. Those ships can and do come in close to our shores, close enough for rats to swim ashore.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • MWelsh

      I agree with you. Don't litter the ocean by sinking it. A better message to send is to pull it from the ocean and recycle it. Then prosecute the crew.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. el Guapo

    First we need to put the pirate crew back on board – then open fire....

    October 6, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      did you even read the article? "pirate fishing" is fishing with illegal techniques not under the flag of any nation. It has nothing to do with piracy in the traditional sense.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. marthaj03

    they should drop warfarin all over the ship, kill the rats first and then sink the ship. Taking a chance on those rats getting to shore might be the beginning of a plague!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. FedUp2

    10 miles of net partially blown up floating around the ocean. Great idea! Blow 'er up REAL GOOD. Let's see footage of Palin hammering the 20 mm in a bikini. Palin, not the gun.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      I'd rather see the gun in a bikini.....

      October 6, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Craig

    2,600 miles off Alaska is not anywhere close to US waters. I guess the Coast Guard is now a subdivision of GreenPeace ?

    October 6, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Nope, the Coast Guard's not acting as a branch of Greenpeace. A stateless vessel on the high seas is subject to the jurisdiction of any state. So, the Coast Guard was legally able to act as if the vessel was fishing in U.S. territorial seas. Good try, though.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. Chartreuxe

    Depending on water temperature, rats can swim more than 3 miles. If they find jetsam they'll make their way ashore afloat.

    The Senator's idea is deeply flawed.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. mmkk007

    In other words - USA the super power cannot eliminate rats in any other better way!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
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