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Response to Piracy
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Mar 2, 2011, 3:43 PM

Post #1 of 10 (19957 views)
Response to Piracy Log-In to Post/Reply

From Cory Friedman:

The present response to piracy in the Indian Ocean seems to be remarkably ineffective. That would indicate that the present cost of piracy is one the world community is willing to accept and pass on to consumers. Alternatives are obvious. One would be a short, sharp punitive action against the pirates’ shore bases like the raids President Jefferson authorized on the “shores of Tripoli” against the Barbary Pirates in the 19th Century.

We seem to have lost sight of the option of hitting hard and leaving, instead of sticking around for an endless quagmire of nation building and hearts and minds winning, which are not necessary. In any event, as one military thinker once noted: “When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds are sure to follow.” This does not have to be Black Hawk Down Redux. Hit hard, leave, and come back again if they do not get the message the first time. This is about teaching a lesson, not arresting “criminals.” It may not be PC, but neither is piracy.

If the world does not have the stomach for that approach, another is armed escorted convoying. In both World Wars convoying worked against a far more formidable adversary. Rather than trying to patrol millions of square miles of ocean, the engaged naval forces should require that shipping in the affected areas form up scheduled convoys that easily can be protected. Aging flower children sailing the globe should be required to convoy as well, but obviously in separate slower convoys, which would require minimal escorts Obviously, convoying will increase shipping costs, but the current anarchy is not cost free either. All of the engaged navies need to train anyhow, but marginal costs of patrolling the expanse must be mounting. With convoying available, anyone who refuses to join should be warned that they are on their own and not any navy’s problem if the suffer from their own reckless stupidity.


Mar 2, 2011, 7:37 PM

Post #2 of 10 (19905 views)
Re: [ms] Response to Piracy [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Jefferson didn't have more than 600 hostages to worry about getting killed, ticking off all their home countries (if not our own citizens, if Americans get killed) with us watching on CNN. As a new country, the U.S. had been paying "tribute" to the Deys of North Africa for many years to avoid the hostage/white slave problem. The bribe essentially got too big, (about 20% of the entire National Budget in 1800) and Congress decided it was cheaper to build a navy. We went over and beat them up, and then had to go back and do it again a few years later. Pirates looking for slaves continued to operate out of Algieria until the French occupied it in 1830. Piracy is obviously not an easy "knock 'em out" scenario. All they need to get started is no job, no prospects for one, no food, an outboard, and a gun or two. They can operate from any beach, anywhere. They can stipulate payment to a bank account in Switzerland, and then sail their prey into a busy harbor somewhere and slip away. They are criminals who don't actually worry about NCIS, and who haven't seen American TV "Justice in 30 Minutes" shows. Revenge may be sweet, but it doesn't solve the problem.

Fred Roswold

Mar 2, 2011, 9:15 PM

Post #3 of 10 (19884 views)
Re: [ms] Response to Piracy [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Go in and shoot up the shore side bases? What shore side bases? I don’t think they have fenced compounds with signs which say “Pirate Base Here”. Should we blast every seaside town in Somalia in the assumption that the people living there are pirates? That is about as good an idea as blasting out of the water every wooden boat manned with Africans in the Indian Ocean. I don’t think even Cory Friedman could explain the legal basis for either idea, and honestly, this is a lot more than political correctness; the Navy really cannot be expected to openly operate outside of the law. They are not going to become a vigilante force as much as many of us would like fantasize about that.

Convoys would probably improve the odds for the shippers but not reduce the cost. The numbers of vessels regularly transiting the area is rather significant. To hold them up in a staging area until a convoy size was reached and military escorts are available would be a delay to every vessel; a cost to all. The cost now are pretty minimal considering that it is probably an insurable risk (or at least self insurable by the shipping companies) which is spread across a large number of ships, most of which get through already without incident. This is to say nothing of the logistics of the convoy process which would be formidable. I am not sure it is even practical for yachts, and definitely not affordable if the yachts were required to pay for the protection. The military has already recognized this and have, up to now, declined to protect yacht convoys, which are already operating.

No, it is going to take a few more, very highly visible, piracy attacks which go wrong to trigger enough outrage for something to be done and then establishing the legal basis would be move #1. Probably the world powers would have to declare war on Somalia, or at least Puntland, where the pirates and Islamic fundamentalists have teamed up too run this business, which by the way is highly profitable for all involved, including a lot of suppliers and middle men who facilitate the negotiations and ransom payments, to say nothing of the Toyota dealers selling SUV’s to the Somalis on payday.

A declaration of war frees up the navies considerably; they could then stop suspect vessels before an attack against a ship or yacht is commenced, as is now not legally possible. Satellite analysis and a few predator drones could help the navies to find suspect vessels. Active interdiction could be possible, even if only to dump all their weapons overboard, and might do much to de-fang the pirates. Predator strikes, against the pirates after they have collected the ransom and left the ship, might make an impression.

But be realistic guys, right now this is not high enough on anybody’s radar screen to make anything happen. It is simply an insurance issue for the shipping industry. A few yachties getting killed is regrettable, but issues like Libya and internal economic and political problems will keep this off the politicians and the NSC’s agenda for the foreseeable future.

I hate to say it, but a few more people need to get killed first.

And Cory, the “Aging flower children” comment was uncalled for. Cruisers now days are more likely to be retired New York lawyers than old hippies.

Fredrick Roswold, SV Wings, Mauritius (outside of the pirate area, I hope)


Mar 3, 2011, 5:48 AM

Post #4 of 10 (19808 views)
Re: [ms] Response to Piracy [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Your plan sounds remarkably like that of a particular mid east nation state that has been wreaking havoc with the native civilian population for years only to watch the situation progressively deteriorate.


Mar 3, 2011, 6:24 AM

Post #5 of 10 (19796 views)
Re: [ms] Response to Piracy [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Cory is right. A stratigic hard hit and then repeat if needed. Worked with Libya years ago.


Mar 3, 2011, 2:12 PM

Post #6 of 10 (19674 views)
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Sending the VOR fleet through a well known danger zone within Somali pirate territory begs some serious consideration. With the recent killing of 4 Americans and then on Feb 24th the seizure of a Danish sailboat with 7 on board (including 2 children) raises eyebrows on why sent the VOR fleet thought the same zone?

The options would be:

A) Choose a new Leg 2 Port of Call. Apologies to Abu Dhabi as well as their entered yacht.

B) Require a far offshore Lat/Lon Gate far to the east. But even that would STILL be with the danger zone. Open up web site That would add distance to the 5430 nm leg. Compare that map with the VOR Port of Call map..

C) Beg and plead with the multi-national naval task force to provide escort warships at the front and back of the fleet as hey approach the Danger Zone. One ship at the front, another at the back of the pack. This continues after the gate has been passed. Internet position unavailable to the general public reports viewing treated as CONFIDENTIAL. Should the fleet be tightly packed, not too tough, But sailing speeds could burn unwanted fuel for the escorts...what nation pays for that ?

From Ted Ritter, Fort Lauderdale


Mar 3, 2011, 2:51 PM

Post #7 of 10 (19670 views)
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From Dieter Loibner

We can deplore the heinous acts of piracy and demand more bombs and guns to solve it once and for all. Until this happens (or not), it appears that cruisers might be better served to avoid the thugs. Really, why chance it?

The Danish family who got hijacked last week struck me as someone leaving port when a hurricane is forecast, betting on the Coast Guard to come rescue them if need be. My Danish isn’t stellar, but on their last blog entry from Feb. 20 they talked about the kidnapping of the four US sailors who were later killed, so they knew the dangers well. They considered themselves safe because they observed warships and air patrols in their vicinity. A day earlier they talked about their “pirate plan” and who does what when disaster strikes.

Obviously, it was all for naught. All that’s left, is hoping that nobody comes to grief.

More sailors in the pirates’ hands means more anguish, more hate, more fear, more ransom and more proof that the business model of piracy works well with slow, vulnerable sailboats and delusional crews. My fix? Be a pragmatist. Be a coward. Forget the Freedom of the Seas, the yacht convoy and the shiny knights on their missile-studded warships. Take the long way home. And live to tell about it.


Mar 3, 2011, 2:52 PM

Post #8 of 10 (19668 views)
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From Charles J. Doane:

I can sympathize with the sentiment expressed by Cory Friedman regarding the current piracy situation in Somalia and President Jefferson's war against the Barbary pirates in the early 19th century. It's very tempting to think we might deliver a limited punitive raid against some Somali pirate bases on shore and perhaps teach someone a lesson. But the Somali pirate gangs are holding something like 660 seamen hostage ashore, and also now three Danish teenagers. Does Cory really think those lives are entirely expendable?

It seems very likely most or all would be forfeit if we pulled such a stunt. That said, it certainly doesn't hurt to posture a bit. I noted with some interest that an amphibious assault ship, two support ships, and elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit departed San Diego this week bound for Somalia.


Mar 6, 2011, 10:06 AM

Post #9 of 10 (19517 views)
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From Tim Patterson:

I am sure you will get a lot of comment on Cory's email. I have to
agree with him. Piracy used to be a death sentence for any who were
caught. The whole world needs to step up to the plate and condemn the
actions of these few pirates, or there will be more of them. With all
the satellite technology we have, I would think that there could be a
monitoring of the movements of pirate boats and action taken whenever
they approach to within a specified distance from any suspected target.


Mar 6, 2011, 10:43 AM

Post #10 of 10 (19516 views)
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From Red Webb:
In response to Cory Friedman's ideas regarding the 'Shores of Tripoli' option (Scuttlebutt 3290), I, and I'm sure, all Navies involved support him. However, the politicians, the very-distant public and the PC-world never will.

Another option?

The pirate boats that we see are quite small, sparsely crewed and are reported as being, at times, over 1000nm from the Somali coast. The most recent intelligence is that they are working to 'mother ships'. If these mother ships were 'disabled' or 'inconvenienced', that would leave a long way home for the bad guys in a small boat, with nothing to eat but AK47s, RPGs and themselves. On a small tank of fuel. (And, for the obvious apologists.... and they are everywhere in their loungerooms.)

Distress calls? Sorry, I didn't hear that one.

Just a thought.

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