59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to "The Defection of Simas Kudirka" Research Materials, circa 1971-2005, undated

Descriptive Summary

RepositoryMartha's Vineyard MuseumGale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call NumberRU 472
Creator - creatorDunlop, Tom
Title"The Defection of Simas Kudirka" research materials
Date1971-2005, undated
Extent1 box (0.504 cubic feet)
LanguageThe materials are in English.
AbstractThe Defection of Simas Kudirka research materials contains transcripts, photographs, and other materials related to the attempted defection from the Soviet Union by Simas Kudirka in 1970, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. The materials were collected for a 2005-2006 article in Martha's Vineyard Magazine.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions to access.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to museum staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 472, The Defection of Simas Kudirka research materials.

Acquisition Information

These materials were donated in 2005 by Tom Dunlop, author of the Martha's Vineyard Magazine article, "The Defection of Simas Kudirka." (Accession number 2005.099)


  • Dunlop, Tom. "The Defection of Simas Kudirka." Martha's Vineyard Magazine. Edgartown, Mass.: Not Summer 2005-2006.
  • Ruksenas, Algis. Day of Shame: The Truth About the Murderous Happenings Aboard the Cutter Vigilant During the Russian-American Confrontation Off Martha's Vineyard. New York: D. McKay Co, 1973.
  • Kudirka, Simas, and Lawrence E. Eichel. For Those Still at Sea. New York: Dial Press, 1978.

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared and machine-encoded by Nathaniel Janick, June 2014.

 Creation of this finding aid was sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Sovetskai Litva (Trawler)
  • USCGC Vigilant (WMEC-617)
  • United States. Coast Guard.

Personal Name(s)

  • Kudirka, Simas


  • Defectors--Soviet Union
  • Massachusetts--Martha's Vineyard
  • Political prisoners--Soviet Union

Biography/Historical Note

Simas Kudirka was born circa 1930 in Griskabudis, Lithuania as the illegitimate son of a woman born in Brooklyn, New York. Kudirka married Genele Kudirka and they had two children, Lolita and Evaldas. He entered the Lithuanian fishing fleet as a radio technician and operator following his childhood in Lithuanian that included World War II and Soviet occupation.

Kudirka attempted to defect from the Soviet fishing mothership Sovietskaya Litva on 23 November 1970, during a conference between American and Soviet fishing officials. Kudirka jumped aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Vigilant and was returned to the Soviet vessel several hours later following a series of communications between senior coast guard and government officials and the captain of Vigilant, Ralph W. Eustis. The event sparked protests throughout the United States and infuriated President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State William P. Rogers. The incident resulted in the early retirement of two senior Coast Guard officials who advised Eustis during the incident, and Eustis was transferred to shore duty until his retirement in 1975. Kudirka returned to the United States in 1974 after it was discovered that his mother was born in the United States and that, as such, he was thus eligible for United States citizenship.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains transcriptions, court proceedings, correspondence, and secondary source materials concerning Simas Kudirka's attempted defection to the United States in 1970. The materials were collected by the donor for an article that appeared in Martha's Vineyard Magazine in 2005. Most of the material in the collection has been reproduced from original sources and has therefore been designated with a date of 2005.


The collection is arranged chronologically by the original date of the materials.

Collection Inventory


Photocopies of 1970 USCG internal correspondence related to the Simas Kudirka defection, Copy made in 2005 


Verbatim Record of the Proceedings Conducted at the Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Mass., 1970 December 1-4, Copy made in 2005 


Verbatim Record of the Proceedings Conducted at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., 1970 December 8-10, Copy made in 2005 


Verbatim Record of the Proceedings Conducted at the Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Mass., 1970 December 16, Copy made in 2005 


Attempted Defection by Lithuanian Seaman Simas Kudirka, Hearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 1971 


"Asylum Denied: The Vigilant Incident." Lituanus. Volume 18, Number 3. Fall 1972, Copy made in 2005 


Article written by Colonel Clyde R. Mann, USMC.


Transcript of 1992 oral history interview with Ed Killham by Robert Martens, Copy made in 2005 


Photographs, circa 1971-2005, undated