Indonesian officials have turned their noses up at the Biden administration’s offer to sell the country an aging — but historic — US Coast Guard cutter that was used during the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“I’m … not interested in used vessels,” Vice Admiral Aan Kurnia, the head of Bakamla, the Indonesia Maritime Security Agency, told CNN Indonesia Friday when asked about the USCG Cutter Adak.
“I prefer to build my own ships in Indonesia,” he told them in a written message.
The Adak, which oversaw the largest maritime rescue in world history on Sept. 11, 2001 when it helped evacuate over half a million people from Lower Manhattan, is due to be decommissioned this summer and sold to Indonesia as a piece of excess military equipment.
For over a year, the USCGC Adak Historical society — run by a former crew member of the Adak — has been trying to save the vessel so it could be turned into a museum, 9/11 memorial and educational center in Tampa Bay, Florida.
James Judge, the founder of the nonprofit, said he’d cover all costs associated with bringing the cutter back to the US from the Arabian Gulf, where it’s currently finishing up its final service patrols.
But the State Department is forging ahead with a plan to sell it to Indonesia.
The agency and the Coast Guard previously told The Post the sale promotes US national security interests and is a key aspect to diplomacy and international relations.
While there are other cutters that are due to be decommissioned, a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday they “don’t meet the needs identified for this partner,” which is why the Adak was selected despite its historical significance.
They further said the law governing excess defense articles requires any recipients of major US origin defense equipment to seek authorization from the US before transferring the articles to a third party or disposing of them.
“It is feasible that the Indonesian Government may choose to retransfer the vessel back to the United States once it reaches its effective service life,” the spokesperson said, which means it could be given to the historical society down the road.
Still, Kurnia claimed the planned sale is “just talk” and “not true” but sources familiar with the matter said Bakamla is not affiliated with the Indonesian Ministry of Defense and won’t be the recipient of the vessel, which is to be transferred to the Indonesian Navy.
The State Department deferred comment on Kurnia’s remarks to the Indonesian Ministry of Defense.
Even if Bakamla won’t be the direct recipient of the Adak, a former Coast Guard captain advocating for the cutter said the remarks “gives all parties an opportunity for a strategic pause to reconsider” whether the sale is in the best interests of the US.
“I would argue as a veteran it is not,” the former captain said.
“We have sent so much excess military property to foreign countries and you get very little return on the investment … I think [the sale] does a disservice to the veterans who have served on that ship and others like it and while it provides a short term gain, it is a missed opportunity in the long term.”
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