The State Department is forging ahead with its plan to transfer the historic US Coast Guard cutter Adak to Indonesia after it is decommissioned Tuesday — amid widespread backlash and requests to preserve the vessel so it can be turned into a museum.
Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and John Katko (R-NY), the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, urged the Biden administration to reconsider the decision because of the vessel’s historical significance.
“The soon to be decommissioned cutter played an instrumental role in search and rescue efforts and maintaining maritime security during the [Sept. 11th] attacks,” the reps wrote in a news release.
“As the first on-scene commander immediately following the attack, the Adak arrived on scene and coordinated the evacuation of 500,000 people who were stuck in lower Manhattan.”
The mission would go on to be the largest maritime rescue operation in world history and the Adak was at the helm.
The USCGC Adak Historical Society, a nonprofit organization run by a former Coast Guardsman who spent 13 months aboard the cutter, has been trying to save the vessel for more than a year so it can be turned into a museum and educational center in Florida.
In April, a group of bipartisan lawmakers formally joined the fight.
They sent a letter to the State Department asking a series of questions about the planned transfer, including if the Coast Guard’s historian had been consulted and if there were any other cutters that could be transferred in its place.
The department admitted that it has at least five similarly sized vessels set to be decommissioned that could be transferred to Indonesia instead, none of which have the same historical significance, but using them would cause significant delays, records show.
Further, the State Department claimed the USCGC Adak Historical Society only started trying to save the boat this January, but the group provided The Post with evidence indicating their efforts started a year earlier in January 2020.
The congressmen called the State Department’s responses “wholly unsatisfactory.”
“It was apparent that the agency has never engaged in a thorough, good faith investigation of alternative solutions to meet the diplomatic goals with Indonesia using a ship other than the ADAK,” they wrote.
Bilirakis said in a statement he hopes “the Biden Administration will do the right thing.”
“While it is reasonable to use our surplus resources to help allies in the region as they pursue mutual national security interests, there are far more appropriate options for meeting this goal while preserving the historical significance of the Adak,” Bilirakis said.
Katko pointed to the upcoming 20th anniversary of the terror attacks this September and said it’s imperative to teach future generations “about the sacrifice and courage shown on that difficult day.”
“Turning the Adak into a Coast Guard museum and youth education center instead would be a testament to the cutter’s historical and national significance. The Adak and her crew members have a long history of service to the United States, including critical response and recovery efforts in New York Harbor after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001,” Katko said.
The State Department said previously the transfer to Indonesia is in the interest of national security and declined further comment when reached Monday.
The Adak will be formally decommissioned Tuesday in Bahrain.
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