criminal arrested by FBI

Lessons learned from a botched 1970 defection request

From Calamity to Coordination

April 2017, Number 08.02

“In December 2016, the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies invited government officials from more than 50 countries to examine issues related to countering transnational organized crime. Because security challenges frequently include multiple ministries, the development of frameworks that formally align response efforts represented a core focus of this innovative, two-week course in Garmisch, Germany.

A seminal event in this “whole-of-government” coordination process occurred in 1970 when Simas Kudirka, a Lithuanian sailor, sought to defect to the United States by leaping from his Soviet flagged vessel onto a U.S. Coast Guard cutter off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Resolving this situation would normally require collaboration by several ministries operating under separate chains of command. At the time, however, no documented framework existed within the U.S. to compel information sharing or synchronize decisions. A series of missteps culminated in Soviet “sailors” removing the merchant seaman from the cutter in U.S. territorial waters, with the crew of the cutter powerless to intervene...”

Excerpt from Brian Wilson and Wayne Raabe, “ From Calamity to Coordination,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 8, No. 2, 2017: 48-49.

Brian Wilson is the deputy director of the Global Maritime Operational Threat Response Coordination Center.

Wayne Raabe works for the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division.


This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.