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. Rucus

    Do NOT send the drift nets to the bottom, take those ashore and properly dispose of them, they can wreck havoc for decades to come if left in the ocean.
    And remember, this ship is probably a time bomb with it (possible) lead paint, fuel oil, gray water, petroleum based grease and what have you. Sending all of that toxic soup will just come back to us some day in some form. Exterminate the rats, bring ship to a ship dismantler and sell the steel for recycle and properly dispose of all the toxic items. A demo of USA's firepower has been going on for 10 years, nothing left to prove.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      COMPLETELY agree with Rucus. When I read this article I was thinking the exact same thing point by point.

      October 6, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      HONESTLY, I didn't think about any of this initially....but you have very vallid point...

      October 6, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      Surely you don't mean to interject common sense and foresight into a discussion on good ol' American firepower....

      October 6, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Ratso

      I agree with not sending the nets down but as far as the toxic soup goes we've been dumping way way worse in the oceans for over 100 years now....and whose going to pay for all these wonderful responsible things that we should do ?

      October 6, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Are you going to pay for all that Rucus?

      October 6, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Benzin

      While your concern is valid, it probably isn't a big deal. When ships are sunk in reef building programs, they remove all the toxic chemicals you mentioned and a few more before they go down. The USCG wouldn't sink it as is, they would clean the thing first. After that, the sunken ship may even have a positive enviromental impact by providing new habitats.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Drill

      Great idea. Rucus you should run for congress 😉

      October 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cherries

    Oooh! I want to watch! Any idea if this will be televised or do I have to wait for someone to post it on youtube?

    October 6, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cassandra Chu

    what nationality were the crew? bad reporting. betchya they were selling their catch in Alaska.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rats are yummy

    There is a more important and interesting aspect that this article provides. Why are we spending money on upgrading cutters and increasing the mission scope of the Coast Guard when we have Navy assets that can perform those operations. Given that we have a number of Navy assets around the globe (including Washington and Alaska), shouldn't those assets be used for these types of operations? Something does not make sense here.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      In addition to rescues and homeland security, the Coast Guard has a special mandate for law enforcement type operations like drug inderdiction, poaching, and smuggling. They don't like utilizing the Navy for this type of thing on our own coast because we try to limit the military's involvement in law enforcement functions.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      To answer your question, as a former USCG member, the Navy boarding another nation's vessel is an act of war. A USCG enforcement officer boarding a vessel is a policing action. Navys are also not trained to do the things the CG is. Hope that clarifies.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. joe

    I smell poop

    October 6, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. jad

    So the Coast Guard is supposed to show off its new military toys by sinking a rusting, illegal fishing boat? And just who is this "message" addressed to? Besides some yahoo, trigger-happy Americans? Try to imagine yourself as, say, a criminal ship-owner, engaged in illegal fishing, trying to squeeze the last nickel out of some rust-bucket ship and a crew whose lives you don't care about. "OMG! The US Coast Guard has new cutters! Whatever shall I do?"

    October 6, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Red Team

      You do realize that the Coast Guard's cutters come with a cannon that can put a ship at the bottom of the ocean in under a minute right? How about the boarding teams they can dispatch armed and well trained to take a ship by force. Not saying they can take on a battleship, but a pile of junk with some jerks with rifles would have a real bad day.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    2600 miles is a bit far IMO! We arrested the crew for illegal fishing practices?
    Does everyone on the planet fish the same way as Americans?

    Oh thats right, team America world police.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      No everyone does not fish the same, but if you are going to fish off the coast of a Country you need to obey there rules.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Jason do you live in America? If so and you hate it so bad why don't you pack your sh!! and get out. There is nothing worse than reading about how bad the U.S.A is all over the world and yet when something bad happens who does everyone turn to for help. I think the U.S should bring all troops home and guard our boarders and say to hell with all these other country's and then lets see how long it would take before the world was over run with terrorist!

      October 6, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Miss Demeanor

      Maybe the vessel was off the Aleutians, still in US territorial waters but a great distance from mainland Alaska???

      October 6, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • jldub

      It's not just the U.S. that has outlawed drift netting. U.N. Resolution 44/225

      October 6, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Yes, plenty of people fish "like Americans". Your point?

      October 6, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Uncle Dave

    Lock up the drift nets in a room below decks. Lock up the pirates in another room below decks. Then sink that sucker !

    October 6, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. Benyamin

    I want this job!

    October 6, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rialto350

    Good idea. Efficient looking Cutters, too. Just don't show off TOO much firepower, and allow our enemies to know just how much firepower we really have.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. STEVE

    Hey, you're missing more than ONE RAT before you blow it up, put a few senators & congressmen on there – now that would be doing the country a favor!!!

    October 6, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dirk Diggler

    Bring the crew back to the boat then blow the MF'er up!

    October 6, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ron

    If you sink your boat, just a little fishing boat, you'll be fined heavily if you don't get it up out of the lake. The govt., however, is allowed to pollute the ocean with as much marine junk as they'd like?!?!

    Whoever though this up should be on that ship when it goes down!

    October 6, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. Scojen

    Instead of whining about the enviromental effects this scow would impose on mother nature offer up some creative ways to eliminate the problems like destroy the nets with an incendary device let the ship burn consuming the hazardous chemicals on board then use it for target practice the key here is to eliminate the problem with the least impact on mother nature and the lowest cost to the american taxpayer

    October 6, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Miss Demeanor

      What? Taxpayers are paying for it, not 'the government' ... not 'evil rich corporations'?

      October 6, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • boogietime

      Right, because toxic fumes are so much better.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. TAIPAN


    October 6, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
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