In theory, it was simple: Congress gave two decommissioned Coast Guard cutters to a faith-based group in California, directing that the ships be used only to provide medical services to islands in the South Pacific.

Coast Guard records show that the ships have been providing those services in the South Pacific since the medical mission took possession of them in 1999. ...

William J. MacLean, the accountant in Seaside, Ore., who prepared the filings, declined to comment.

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