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. Andrew

    Addiction to money and power. Do they build cutters for those?

    October 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason

    If the USCG is chasing a ship and trying to shoot it, they're usually not a standing target. If you're going to make the ship as a target practice, make it more interesting by making it a moving target. Obviously, we have to remove the fuel and any hazardous materials, so install some sails, a little pirate flag, put the crew back in, and fire away.

    October 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      well thought!!!
      couldn't agree more.

      October 7, 2011 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Not Your Mother

      I love you, Jason.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gjimmy Sheltah

      Drain the fuel, put it on a two mile two line, and let the Captains of "Deadliest Catch" take turns trying to shell and sink it, filming this for a future episode segment. Great publicity for USCG, effective/appropriate fishing regulation, and national defense. Jahp whaling shops should get the same treatment.

      October 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gjimmy Sheltah

      Oops, typo. "2 mile tow line" of course. Pulled by one warship holding the ratboat a challenging distance abeam of the firing one. But no advance publicity or you'll have PETA pulling a Greenpeace by Zodiac-blocking maneuvers to save the rats.

      October 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • larry mcc

      If they do not have torpedoes it will be very hard to sink a ship with a 3 inch gun and a 20 mm gatling cannon. It may be more embarrasing than thought of by senator who knows little about sinking ship. Also I like comment about it will not be a moving target. Are they going to waste all that squid?

      October 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Chief

    Using the words "rats onboard" may be code for "vacationing lawyers and congressmen on their yachts." They qualify as both pirates AND rats. I'm all for sinking a few of their yachts with them onboard, then giving medals to the coast Guard crew. Like the old joke says, "what do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start." That goes double for politicians...of both parties. 🙂

    October 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dudley4018

      Is that where the Wisconsin Congressmen were hiding?

      October 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. thoughtful

    The ship should be sanitized first, and the rats cleaned out – burning them would be prefereable. Rats may carry disease and infect fish, and the fish may end up on your plate – aka Sweet Alaska "Rat" Crab. Once the rats are removed the ship can be scrapped and the money go towards paying for the incarceration and the upkeep of the pirates.

    Democrats do not understand how to save and make money. Just how to spend it. Bombing the ship with ordinance implies an engagement – that means an increase in pay for the crew, and the expense of ordinance is a cost for which we have no justification. Also, blasting the ship would create debris mixed with explosive residue that would exist in the water for a long time. Taking the ship apart would expose any other environmental problem to mitigate. Recycle – go green.

    Last but not the least sell the ship, minus the drift nets offcourse.

    October 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Never Disclosed

      Sell the boat you stupid fools.

      October 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      get off the green thing ok they meaning the USCG was going to fire the weapons a some point in order to test them so why wasye the money to a target when they can just use that piece of crap ship. I mean really some people take this green thing a little far.

      October 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • saopaco

      So, NO Democrats understand how to "save and make money"?
      you are just a fountain of valuable information.

      October 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hawk 1

      Democrats? How about the 8 years of bush and the republicans, blew the surplus, enacted no child left behind then did not fund it. 2 illegal wars, costing billions, 2 billion in cash that disapeared in irauq, billions in giveaway to haliburton, and the list goes on and on.

      October 8, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. bertha59

    What an insane idea. Treat the ship for rats. Then bring it into the harbor.

    October 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • thoughtful

      You do not need to bring it into the harbor. There is a standard procedure followed for cruise ships in case of infestation. The fumigation can be done away from the harbor, the ship can be broken or sold as is minus the drift nets, without even bringing it into the harbor. Alternatively, you can strip it offhore – ship diesels are in demand so the engines can be sold relatively easily- once stripped there will be no danger of rats coming on-shore.

      October 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mickey d

    blow it up

    October 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. IndyNC

    I do agree there are enviromental concerns...
    as for the illegal fishing, there are international laws on commercial fishing as well as americian if they where captured in Americian waters.

    Just because they are in international waters does not mean they are beyound all laws.

    Coast Guard should be defending Americian Waters, just as the National Guard should be defending Americian boarders.

    Let's send more navy to the international waters off of Somalia where all those pirates have been operating and have some fun there.

    I mean, the military is going to use every excuse to get the latest and greatest out there, we may as well USE some of it lol.

    It's a 50/50 on the boat and pollutants... I mean there's no worse damage than if the pirates pushed this rust bucket too far and it sunk on it's own... and chances are if the fuel etc are kept to a minimum (and I don't see the Coast guard springing for a full tank of gas while they unloaded it) – it might actually wind up a net positive (providing protective barriers, giving various acquatic life shelter etc)

    But I do kinda like the message it does send... Lawless Pirates, be they illegal fishing or ransom/hostage operations need to have fear.

    In the 1800s it was the Spanish Armada... today it's the US Navy.

    October 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Man

      I can understand enviromental concerns inside our own territorial waters, however I am going to comment on these cutters and their mission. USCG is a National Defense force that has been used to stop illegal immigration, narcotics distribution and hopefully stop a terrorist plot or two. 2600 miles seems like thats outside of our territorial waters, I could be wrong, I'm no expert. Thats issue number 1, issue number 2 comes when they seized the vessel. If it was in international waters and the US government takes them from their vessel and takes their vessel from them "for violation of american law" when they werent in american waters then that is piracy. When did we become the world's eco police? Why is our COAST GUARD working as far south as South America? We have no holdings there and no business being there. a 12000 mile range can be argued to allow the cutters to stay on their coastal patrols longer, but let's be honest, why would you need the range to cross either ocean if you're protecting the United States coast. That being said I will say I am against the unresponsible harvesting of ANY of this planets resources by ANYONE, including governments. I am not against buying new equipment for our defense but there has been a number of questionable incidents involving the coast guard over a number of years and it seems like some oversight is needed. In closing my thoughts are this: while the intention might have been good, i am concerned over us as a nation overstepping ourselves on the world stage, policing actions outside of our territory are not only illegal, they are bullish. The only reason we as a country allow this crap is because we are the biggest kid with the biggest stick on the block. The eco-friendly reading this article will applaud the coast guard but ignore the fact they were out of bounds. This is a poison fruit situation, you can't break the law to enforce it.

      October 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BMcD74

    To simulate the ship moving, the USCG will actually move their vessel during the firing operations. I have had the pleasure of being aboard many USCGC including the Bertholf & the Munro, this would be great for practice for these guys, heck I would like to see it too.

    October 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ztank

    Please post the video if this shelling is allowed...

    October 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andi

    only one problem sinking the ship is the rats gotta go somewhere. my guess...Rat Island...the one they just spend millions on eradicating rats from. Now this ship had to come from somewhere, it did not just appear out of nowhere. heres another about Begich PAY the coast guard, he makes wnough, plus the family settlement from when his dad got killed. the man is not poor.

    October 7, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. Charlie

    Hire Billy the exterminator, then give the ship to the whale wars guy!

    October 7, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. steve

    how about convening a full session of congress & the senate onboard & THEN use if for target practice – 2 birds with one stone, LOL

    October 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Jesus Martha! Aren't you glad these forum folks don't run America?

    October 8, 2011 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dreamer96

    Rats are good swimmers, hope they parked this ship far from sight of land, or smell of food...If the rats even smell food they just might make a swim for land...

    October 8, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kyle H. Davis

    Easy solution:

    Train the rats, and send it back to China. Preferably with the rotting carcass of a panda hanging from the drift nets. It might give them reason to think about what they are doing.

    October 9, 2011 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
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