USCG Stops, Boards Russian Vessel

Friday, September 24, 1999
USCGC Hamilton pursued, stopped and boarded 331-ft. Russian F/V Gissar along the U.S./Russian maritime boundary line (MBL) for alleged illegal fishing. While patrolling the boundary line, 378-ft. Hamilton's crew spotted Gissar on radar penetrating 437 yards into U.S. waters, and, at one point, exceeding as much as 750 yards on the U.S. side. Hamilton established hot pursuit of Gissar and its 74-person crew, before Gissar changed course and crossed to the Russian side of the MBL. A helicopter crew aboard Hamilton launched to over fly Gissar and attempt radio contact with the Russian fishers. In flight, the helicopter crew spotted the vessel's fishing nets and cables in the water. Hamilton deployed its boarding team to Gissar. Once aboard Gissar, Hamilton law enforcement officers found between 32 and 37 metric tons of Pollock in the ship's fish hold. When the Hamilton boarding team ordered Gissar's captain to take the vessel to a U.S. port, the captain claimed both his engine and his steering were broken. Hamilton personnel and Gissar's crew attempted to make repairs. Subsequently, other Russian F/Vs in the area intentionally interfered with the efforts of Hamilton to tow Gissar to a U. S. port. In light of potential danger to the 14-person boarding team and the cutter, the U. S. boarding party aboard Gissar was removed. Control over Gissar as well as evidence of the violations committed by its crew were transferred to Russian Border Guard vessel Antius.
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