Some new information is emerging about the Coast Guard operation in which the purse seiner Jeanette was boarded by armed Coast Guard personnel at the main dock late last week,
Bill Sardinha, whose company Sardinha & Cileu Management, provides services for the Jeanette said in an email to KHJ News, the Jeanette came into port on its own, and not ordered to return as we reported.
He said a helicopter pilot on board has fallen ill and this required the vessel o return to Am Samoa for medical care
Sardinha explained that the Jeanette was required to notify the US Coast in advance 96 hours, less if an emergency or if circumstance warrants exception, an illness qualifies.
So the Coast Guard was well aware of its arrival.
Sardinha reports that upon entering port on February 23rd, the Jeanette was surprised to find US government agents waiting to board the vessel with guns.
He said the agents boarded the vessel, posted guards, isolated the crew and interrogated them for 12 hours.
“There was no explanation as to what prompted the US agents to target the Jeanette for this boarding, “ he told KHJ News.
Sardinha adds it’s doubtful that the reason as to why will ever be released, or why the US Government spent its resources on this “Catch and Release” exercise of the Jeanette.
A C-130 aircraft transported the Coast Guard agents from Honolulu.
Sardinha raises several questions.
“Was this a training exercise?” He answers that this is doubtful.
“Were the US agents given false information? He says if this was the case, did the Coast Guard act on it without further investigation?
“Did the computerized surveillance or monitoring systems generate a false determination or conclusion? If so did the agents act on it without a reasonable confirmation?”
Sardinha said the targeting of Jeanette has people talking. He says this was embarrassing and demeaning for the vessel owners, vessel officers, and its crew to be accused of these false accusations.
KHJ News reported that based on information from a fishing boat owner, who saw what happened and based on information from his friends on the Jeanette, the Coast Guard was searching for drugs.
Sardinha commented One thing for sure, you can rest assured that the US Government is watching and monitoring all vessel activities and is constantly on guard for all illegal, inappropriate and questionable activities. And based upon this incident one can see that the USG is not afraid to err on the side of caution when your vessel enters Pago Pago, whether or not you have a US flag.
He just wishes other countries “would be as diligent with their vessels!”