Critical piece of Sept. 11 history set to be sold to Indonesia

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The Biden Administration is planning to give a historic Coast Guard cutter, which helped save thousands of people on 9/11, to Indonesia, The Post has learned — angering victims’ advocates who say the move is “callous” and disrespectful.

When hundreds of thousands of people needed to be evacuated from Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, the US Coast Guard Cutter Adak was ready in New York Harbor, in what would become the largest maritime rescue in world history. 

But just months before the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks, the US government is in talks to sell the vessel to a foreign government — instead of donating it to a non-profit organization that wants to turn it into a museum and 9/11 memorial.

“You’re not only disrespecting New Yorkers and those that were affected directly by the terrorist attacks, you’re disrespecting the United States,” said John Feal of the FealGood Foundation, which advocates for 9/11 survivors. 

“Shame on them, shame on them for being so callous and showing a lack of humanity and showing a lack of empathy.” 

The USCGC Adak Historical Society has been petitioning the Coast Guard since last January to give them the boat when it is decommissioned later this year so they can turn it into a museum, memorial and education center for disadvantaged youth that would be docked in Tampa Bay, Florida. They pledged to cover any and all costs associated with returning her to the US and are even willing to buy the cutter through the General Services Administration. 

“This cutter doesn’t have to go to Indonesia, there’s plenty of other 110 foot cutters that could go to Indonesia,” said James Judge, the historical society’s founder and a former Coast Guardsman who spent 13 months aboard the cutter while it was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

“I also think it’s remarkable the Coast Guard is considering giving it to Indonesia given the fact Indonesia is plagued by radical islam, they have a history of human rights abuses and they are notoriously known as the world’s second largest marine environment polluter. The Coast Guard is charged with marine environment protection.”

Earlier this year, the USCG told the historical society they plan to sell the cutter to another country under the Foreign Assistance Act and on April 2, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency formally notified congress of USCG’s plans to sell it to Indonesia.  

“They’re going with the FAA because it’s the path of least resistance… it’s very convenient to them. That’s the bottom line, this is about money and convenience,” Judge said. 

“We tried to eliminate every single barrier to the military, in fact the military and the Coast Guard will have to demilitarize the boat in order to sell it to Indonesia, there’ll be a cost associated with that. They wouldn’t even have to strip it if we were to get it.” 

The historical society worked with the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation to draft legislation that’d allow the USCG to give the Adak to the group but time is running out, Judge said. When congress was notified about the proposed sale to Indonesia, a 30 day clock started ticking before the ship will be formally offered to the country, which is now just eleven days away. 

If the White House, State Department or members of congress don’t stop the sale, “a symbol of American strength and perseverance” will be lost to a foreign country forever, said Judge. 

“The Coast Guard Cutter Adak is a historic ship and worthy of coming home… A lot of people think the Coast Guard is like Bay Watch, they just rescue people but they have a very important mission… and a very rich history,” said Judge. 

“I don’t think there’s a better cutter that could demonstrate that history than the Cutter Adak.”  

The group has started a petition, which has over 3,000 signatures, asking President Biden to save the ship but the White House deferred to the State Department when asked about the proposed sale, which didn’t comment.

The Coast Guard didn’t respond to criticism about the sale and said the decision is in the interest of national security. 

“The forthcoming transfer is the culmination of a year-long planning process, and is scheduled to occur after the cutter’s decommissioning in June 2021,” a Coast Guard spokesperson said in a written statement. 

“The Coast Guard worked closely with the Departments of State, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, using procedures established by the Navy’s International Program Office, throughout the rigorous selection and decision process to prepare for the transfer of Coast Guard Cutters ADAK and AQUIDNECK to the Government of Indonesia.

“This process directly supports international partners and allies to achieve U.S. national security interests. Working closely with the Indonesian Navy, inspections and preparations for the transfer began in earnest in February 2021.” 

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