Thanks for taking the time to look at this.
The version of Perl running is v5.12.3. Neither Net::SSH nor NET::OpenSSH, which is what I use elsewhere, are installed. v5.12.3 is good in that it opens some of the options that you and haukex have mentioned. This is the last machine of it's ilk in the environment and due to a number of reasons its retirement keeps getting postponed, and while I'm attempting to work through the resistance facing the installation of even local copies of Perl modules, unless I get permission to install new modules I'm stuck with what's currently installed.