Indonesia eyed for transfer of two Island-class cutters from US Coast Guard


The USCGC Adak (WPB-1333). Photo c/o Wikimedia Commons.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has formally informed the US Congress of plans to transfer two US Coast Guard Island-class patrol boats to the Indonesian government.

DSCA provided the information to US Congress on 02 April 2021, which involves the Island-class cutters USCGC Adak (WPB-1333) and USCGC Aquidneck (WPB-1332) as part of the US government’s assistance under the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) program.

The program aims to boost the maritime capabilities of Indo-Pacific countries as they face an increasing threat and assertiveness from China.  

A formal offer would be made by the US government by May 2021, following 30-day period after the US Congress was notified of the proposed transfer.

It is expected that should the Indonesian government accept the cutters, these would be assigned with the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (BAKAMLA).

The USCGC Adak is still in service with the US Coast Guard and is based in Bahrain, but is scheduled for decommissioning in July 2021.

The USCGC Aquidneck and USCGC Adak were commissioned to the US Coast Guard in 1989, and are armed with a Mk. 38 25mm chain gun, five .50-caliber heavy machine guns, and various small arms. They displace at 164 tons, are 34 meters long, and has a beam of 6.4 meters wide. 

The boats are powered by 2 Paxman Valenta diesel engines allowing a maximum speed of more than 30 knots, and a range of 9,900 miles at cruising speed.

But there are groups trying to stop the transfer of USCGC Adak due to its historic value, being involved in evacuation of New York City residents following the September 11 terror attacks in 2001.

Historical Society has called to stop the transfer of the USCGC Adak to Indonesia, and instead convert it into a memorial and museum in Tampa Bay, Florida. The group was willing to pay for the ship’s transfer from Bahrain to the US mainland, while a petition supporting the plan has been ongoing and already have 7,600 people signed.

Indonesian experts believe that Indonesia would be better-off buying new patrol boats, as retrofitting used patrol boats would also be expensive, and also believes that Indonesia is less willing to accept Indo-Pacific MSI program funding from the US government due to national pride.

The US Indo-Pacific MSI Program has already benefited several Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Malaysia recently operationalized ScanEagle 2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) received from the program, while Vietnam is in the process of transferring two Hamilton-class high endurance cutters. 

[1] South China Morning Post

[2] Kumparan Bisnis

Indonesia eyed for transfer of two Island-class cutters from US Coast Guard Indonesia eyed for transfer of two Island-class cutters from US Coast Guard Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on May 03, 2021 Rating: 5

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