Aaargh! Avast! It’s the Pirates Again!

Piratesplash Pirates?  Somali pirates?  Are there no more navies in the world?  What are all those big grey boats for? 

I remember the pirate thing.  It was at the "Admiral Benbow" that Long John Silver (the other one), Squire Trelawny, Dr. Livesey and the guys hooked up for high adventure.  I don’t suppose that anyone remembers that there was a "Return to Treasure Island?"  It was cool.  And then there was "The Pyrates" by GM Fraser, also very, very cool.

And then there is the strange and mysterious phenomenon of the Treasure Pit on Oak Island, Nova Scotia….

Real pirates?  Where are all the gunboats when they are needed?  Maybe the US Coast Guard should take care of this if the navies can not manage it.  pl

060318n8623s002 <——  (the pirates) F18comp

<——– US Navy FA-18 (with attachments)

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51 Responses to Aaargh! Avast! It’s the Pirates Again!

  1. Curious says:

    My BIIIIiiiig, biiiig question.
    The geniuses at Pentagon were talking the big talk about keeping the persian gulf open. They say they can defend every single ship that come in and out of the gulf.
    And the persian gulf is shallower and narrower and the gulf of aden.
    All the Iranian has to do is outsource their navy to the somalian and they would have won. duh …
    Like I say before, what they gonna do? use an aircraft carrier chasing a fishing boat? The wooden one doesn’t even show up on radar. And they move faster than average destroyer.
    btw, It’s always nice to know the two most important oil waterways are not under anybody’s control. They better hurry up with those mass electric cars research.

  2. Todd says:

    Hey, a George MacDonald Fraser shout-out. Indeed, The Pyrates was very, very cool…and hilarious, as is the Flashman series.
    As for the Somali pirates, at least there are no rumours of the Dread Pirate Roberts throwing in his lot with these swine.
    Two thoughts: there has been pirating for years (decades?) in the Strait of Molucca, but it has not been in the news lately. Was there any success in lowering the tempo there that is transferable to this situation? Or did it just float off the radar?
    Second, I understand the Army having little or no resources, but what exactly is the Navy doing about this? Fleet size has dwindled this last decade, but is there no task force of frigates and destroyers with air support, recon, and intel capabilities that can start cleaning up the route?

  3. Guess the obvious question is: what are we getting for our money? We spend more on guns and gunships etc. than the next 45 countries after us, combined.
    Meanwhile our local schools are crumbling for lack of regular maintenance. What’s the point of having nice things if we can’t take care of them? And there’s no money for new things, either. How is it a conservative value to throw our cash on wasteful wars that don’t keep us secure, while letting our houses (and schools and bridges) fall down from neglect? Republicans wouldn’t let their own houses peel, flake, and sprout holes in the roofs.

  4. J says:

    Shiver me timbers, arghhh. Harrr harrr harrr.

  5. bstr says:

    Dear Sir, Do you know where pirates shop for their clildren’s Xmas? Why of chourse Toys Arrrgh Us. Stopping for lunch at Arrrgh bys.

  6. Colonel; As a former US Navy officer (Lt, USNR), I couldn’t agree more and was heartened when the Indian Navy’s INS Tabar went vigorously after an alleged mother ship (although there remains some dispute about the mothership’s role: I do, however, have one observation; in all most likelihood, not unlike the funding the Army deals with, where the focus is on major weapons systems more in line with conventional battlefield doctrine, vs. budget for a single infantry soldier’s gear, the Navy’s budget still remains heavily oriented towards systems more in line with fighting blue water adversaries such as the former Soviet Navy using Carrier battlegroups (and a submarine force whose number of hulls far exceeds the threat) than against small and medium craft using covert tactics. The Navy, in my time (‘80 to ‘87), little focused on the kinds of warfare needed to counter today’s piracy, especially in such distant waters. Applying big blue water solutions to zodiac-boat equipped pirates is a mismatch of solution to problem similar to the one you have pointed up quite well in regards to applying battlefield armies to terrorism which is essentially an intelligence-blackops-law enforcement job. Our blue water warships and the Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) are well trained but not much trained for this kind of mission. I’m not even sure we have many small medium-range surface platforms (such as hydrofoil and like equipments which would be part of solution) available in the region if at all in the fleet. Methinks this is another landside intel-specops-law enforcement type of problem. Nonetheless, it nees to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
    Brien J Miller

  7. Patrick Lang says:

    The US Navy has been halting and searching boats/ships in those waters for many years.
    This is not hard to do. We already pay for the fleet units that would do it. Not a war, Leila, more like taking out the garbage.
    As I say, let the Coast Guard do it if the Navy is too grand. pl

  8. SAC Brat says:

    Why not make up some Q-Ships?
    It would seem hard to paint the pirates as victims if they attacked a Q-Ship first, but this doesn’t solve the problem of pirate bases. Maybe the US Marine Corps has some old training manuals on the subject. 😉
    Or do as the european traders did with the middle east and just don’t transit the area anymore.

  9. I was making one of my usual leaps, without specifying. I guessed from Col Lang’s post that our boats are not doing these stops on the seas because they are tied up supporting the effort in Iraq? Are you saying that despite Iraq the fleet units are available?
    I am just assuming that anything our government “can’t” do lately due to “budget cuts” can be blamed on our war in IRaq and the financial bail-out. Perhaps I paint with too broad a brush – I often do.

  10. P.s. I’m just mad because my son’s public school is being closed down. The facility is 60 years old and has had little or no maintenance for half that time. It’s crumbling and dangerous and although it’s devoted to special education children, it is not fully handicap accessible. !!! Would cost “too much money” to make things right. Also, it’s an “integrated” program offering great education to typically developing children – lots of extras like art, music, gardening, dance – enriched curriculum as good as any private school. But local middle class parents won’t send their darlings to this free program because the facility looks so miserable. 30 years ago it was a fine, handsome building on a still-beautiful campus in Oakland’s foothills. But now the folks in this very prosperous neighborhood send their dearies to private schools. And the building will probably get leased to a charter which will hire inexperienced teachers willing to work for no pension and no benefits, while the facility crumbles further into the ground, until it’s condemned and bulldozed one day in the future.
    Such a waste.

  11. The school’s relationship to the topic at hand – every time I see those peeling walls I think of all that money we dumped into Iraq. They say there’s “no money” to fix up our school but there was plenty of money to go to Iraq, and to what purpose? I say my kid (and all the kids of Oakland) got ripped off.

  12. Cujo359 says:

    The Coast Guard might have been a more appropriate choice, if they could deal with the logistical issues of having a base 5K miles from home. The Navy’s been built around carriers, as has much of NATO’s fleet.

  13. Ole says:

    Colonel, Special Operation Forces aboard the Danish frigate HDMS Absalon (currently operating as flagship for the CTF 150) earlier this year boarded a pirate ship of some sort and arrested a bunch of alleged pirates and held them imprisoned aboard the ship for a week or so. Eventually they had to land them on a Somalian beach and let them go – nobody wanted to handle the legal issues involved (including Denmark, to be fair) and there is no international body of law to handle these cases.
    As of yesterday Danish authorities decided against allowing the Danish commandos aboard Absalon to board what has been described with 100% certainty as a pirate vessel which Absalon had been following close for a couple of days. Because of the lack of somewhere to actually send any arrested pirates for prosecution. Again – noone want’s the hassle of actually prosecuting and imprisoning these guys.
    What to do about this? Let the pirates walk the plank and be done with – or establish some international “pirate court”? Who’s going to pay?

  14. Tom S says:

    The problem is that there are more US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf than there are outside of it.

  15. McGee says:

    Seems the Mumbai attackers also used a pirating technique – they reportedly flew an SOS flag on a small boat of some sort and then hijacked a trawler when it responded to their signal. Using a commercial trawler then allowed them easy access to Mumbai’s port. Remember that the 9/11 hijackingx succeeded only because of unsecured cockpits on commercial aircraft. That loophole was pretty simple to fix (though the Orwellian security at US airports these days is probably overkill). Looks like the US Navy (and other Navies) needs to start securing commercial shipping in some fashion as part of its mission. Probably could be done with an international mandate from the UN. Not sure, but perhaps wiser heads at this blog might care to comment?

  16. Mark Logan says:

    SAC brat:
    A very entertaining and interesting book on this is The Barbary Pirates by CS Forester. It documents that
    long chapter of history quite well. They existed for centurys, and our Tripoli landing was not their end, it was the French invasion in 1830 that finally did them in.
    I don’t know why they left that part out of the Marine Corps Hymn….
    There are a lot of things these Somalians have in common with those pirates of old. I would predict that they won’t go away until either it becomes impossible for them to win
    booty (Aaargh!) or the basic
    conditions in Somalia that permit their existance are changed. They won’t be intimidated by mere raids
    or losing some of their hearty maties at sea. It’s
    many bands of the scurvy rascals and there are more form every day.

  17. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    re using the Coasties to chase down the pirates.
    I’m not sure how well they would do given their inability to produce an ocean going cutter. They recently tried to extend the length of eight 105 foot cutters but the modifications kept falling off in the open sea. All eight are now moored somewhere unsafe and unusable.
    The new cutters they tried to build couldn’t get past the inspection of the naval architects at the Navy’s BuShips to say nothing of the fact that the radios they installed on the new vessels were not waterproof nor were the radio signals shielded to prevent their being intercepted.
    Admiral Thad Allen has been trying to make things better but Congress is still pretty upset.
    Maybe this will be an opportunity for the Navy’s shelved DDX shallow draft destroyer to be resurfaced?

  18. John Howley says:

    As usual, I don’t think we’re getting the whole story. (Surprise!)
    My wondering concerns the location of the pirate attacks — maps are easy to find on line. These attacks are clustered along the Yemeni coast. Indeed, a “Maritime Security Patrol Area” or corridor was set up there that seems to have attracted both vessels and pirates.
    Why does all the discussion focus on Somalia? Well, presumably the pirates originate from there.
    Whose idea was the MSPA? And why isn’t it working?
    What about the government of Yemen (hey, isn’t there a civil war going on there?) And what about Egypt — isn’t much of the affected traffic Suez bound (in or out)? A major source of foreign exchange.
    You’d think the Saudi Royal family would be flexing their “muscles,” too.
    Too bad Ethiopia doesn’t have a navy; they’ve done a “heckuva job” cleaning up onshore Somalia for us.
    Those darn Somalis. What’s wrong with them? Why won’t they behave?

  19. Bobo says:

    When you look at a chart and see the +1200 mile shoreline of Somalia, you understand its a little more than swatting flies.
    Seems to me you need to take out a few of their bases to slow it down but then thats called invading anothers country.
    The US Coast Guard with their 45′ RB-M’s manned with 4 coasties armed to the hilt with a machine gun on the bow would certainly help the situation especially if they could snare a couple Tarawa Class vessels from the Navy to use as mother ships then you have a good deterrant to also slow them down.
    But you always come back to the problem of what do you do with the Pirates?? Of course I like the plank walking style of punishment and give them a Parrot to take for the walk.
    Now, when the pirates take over a slow moving cruise ship with +500 people it will not be a laughing matter anymore.

  20. John Howley says:

    The Guardian reports that the BBC suppressed a report by one of its own correspondents (interviewing crew of the highjacked Saudi oil tanker) at the behest of the UK Foreign Office.
    It seems the report had displeased the Saudis.
    Oh dear, oh dear!

  21. mike says:

    Some thoughts:
    1] Many of the piracy incidents were not in the Gulf of Aden but further out in the IO.
    2] There are about 2000 miles of Somali coastline.
    3] Nobody has ever stopped piracy by sinking or capturing pirate ships at sea. If I read history correctly, then you must destroy the onshore pirate nest or nests.
    4] Do we have a dog in this fight? How much American shipping is headed towards Suez? If the pirates are targeting foreign hulls that are carrying imports to America then good on them.

  22. euclidcreek says:

    Mr. Stress, bluesman from Cleveland, writes:
    It is time to bring back Commander Bulkley and the other PT boatmen that helped interdict Japanese amphibious landings on the west coast of Bataan during the battle of the points in 1942.
    At Dienbienphu French Colonial Artillery Colonel Piroth fell on his sword after drinking his commanders cool aid.

  23. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    I think Ole hits the nail on the head in terms of the legal ramifications. What DO you do with a captured pirate? Absent an overt attack on a Navy vessel, does the Navy have authority to apprehend or destroy these people?
    And I can’t help this: were there no pirates, would our alphabet have the letter “R”?

  24. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    I hear ya and agree that the scope of the problem should be small bore but like Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” From the number and type of ships being seized by the pirates not much is being done. And, until Obama gets in there, there ain’t no Jefferson on the horizon to send in the marines.
    I don’t doubt the Coast Guard’s ultimate ability to take on this kind of mission. My sense, however, is that since their transfer into Homeland Security they’ve been caught up in a culture war with the Navy. Their cutter hulls are old, outdated and some beyond repair. They’ve deferred maintenance (as does almost everybody in government) and instead of replacing coastal or inland waterway hulls with new construction they’ve spent a lot of money on ocean going craft that can be part of a naval battle group. As a result, they’re not doing anything very well.
    Their unsuccessful pursuit of an ocean-going cutter is an excellent example of their general inability to recognize that they don’t have any of the clout the Navy does. They’re walking softly but left their stick at home. The 8 hours of C-Span I watched with a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee taking the Coast Guard and Lockheed apart is etched in my mind.
    The Coast Guard should be a logical choice for a small bore operation. Twenty-five years ago maybe it would have worked. No doubt somebody will eventually cobble together something but I don’t see the Coast Guard currently having the ability to take the lead.

  25. Lewis says:

    I was under the impression that something was being done, and has been for a while now.
    There are “safe corridors” although there are tens of thousands of ships travelling the Indian Ocean and the pirates are getting more and more ambitious (and at further and further ranges).
    As for capturing pirates, it’s been done often, but no-one’s willing to try them, so they just end up being released.

  26. kao-hsien-chih says:

    I’m confused about the legalities: historically, piracy on high seas was one of the crimes for which all countries legally claimed jurisdiction over. Apparently, that’s no longer true?

  27. greg0 says:

    Speaking of pirates, I just read that Blackwater is looking for new opportunities. Iraqi law changes things a bit for them on January 1st. Will their services be needed elsewhere?

  28. Will says:

    Now the Romans took Piracy seriously
    from the Wiki
    “The Lex Gabinia (Gabinius’s Law) was a law established in ancient Rome in 67 BC. Its establishment was a result of the reforms made by Pompey and Crassus during their joint consulship in 70 BC.
    It was passed by the Tribune Aulus Gabinius in 67 BC. Pompey was granted proconsular powers in any province within 50 miles of the Mediterranean Sea with a fleet of 500 warships, 120,000 infantry and around 5,000 cavalry to fight the growing problems of pirates disrupting trade in the Mediterranean Sea.”

    “Pompey divided the Mediterranean into thirteen separate areas, each under the command of one of his legates. In forty days he cleared the Western Sea of pirates, and restored communication between Hispania, Africa, and Italy. He then followed the main body of the pirates to their strongholds on the coast of Cilicia; after defeating their fleet, he induced a great part of them, by promises of pardon, to surrender to him. Many of these he settled at Soli, which was henceforward called Pompeiopolis.
    Ultimately it took Pompey all of a summer to clear the Mediterranean of the danger of pirates. In three short months (67-66 BC), Pompey’s forces had swept the Mediterranean clean of pirates,…”
    There have been many articles about the factors that have led the Somalis to piracy. Our hamfisted support of the overthrow of the Islamic Courts government that led to anarchy. The predatory international over- fishing of their territorial waters- who knows?

  29. confusedponderer says:

    The German Navy, since it’s last reincarnation having been tasked with defending the Baltic Approaches and the German coast against a Russian naval invasion, is a littoral navy, with considerable expertise. They have now put into service the corvette class K-130, based on a successful export platform.
    They were to use 1.000 kg SEAMOS helicopter drones (my favourite would be to mass produce the 350 kg Bombardier Cl.327) for reconnaissance and missile targeting – negating the need to have to, like a fast attack boat, ‘chase the prey’ through speed. Those drones inevitably have been cut because of cost, largely negating the beauty of the concept (which explains the current German interest in the US 1.430 kg MQ-8_Fire_Scout). The K-130 had their share of technical problems but they are going to be solved.
    Size is some 1350 tons, endurance 7 days, 21 with support vessel, a range of 4000nm @ 15kn and a speed of, ghasp, just 26 knots. Compare this ship to the US ideas of how a littoral combatant ought to be like – 3.000 tons, frigate size, high speed. Three times the price?
    Anyway, something K-130-ish would be about the type of vessel the US would need for pirate chasing, and they could acquire them in large numbers (thinking in terms of four to six vessels for the price of one Aegis destroyer).
    But (a) it is not invented there and (b) there is no gold plating on it and (c) it is not transformational or buzz-wordish enough I presume. And probably there just isn’t enough overhead in building a more frugal vessel like the K-130.
    That said, the pirates not yet inflict enough pain to warrant a response, which is a pity. Chasing pirates is a little messy legally today and as Ole has pointed out rightly, nobody wants the expenses and the hassle of dealing with these cut throat have-nots. That said, if the nations really really wanted they could – traditionally there is universal jurisdiction for pirates and slavers.

  30. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,
    The fact that the US Navy appears to be doing little has more to do with political and legal considerations than the capability or will of the Navy. The Navy would like nothing better than to scrap with these pirates.
    Someone mentioned the UN. There is a chapter 7 resolution (1816) that permits forces to enter the territorial water (TTW) of Somali (with permission of the Somali TFG) and use “all necessary means” provided those means are in accordance with international law. That last caveat really guts the meaning of “all necessary means” and is a legal obstacle to just going in and blowing the pirates out of the water. Unless they commit some overt hostile act toward a coalition warship, they can’t be sunk.
    At most, they can be captured and arrested (and some have). This is not difficult to do, but brings another problem – what then? A couple of hundred years ago, ship captains had the authority to simply kill pirates they captured, but the niceties of international law prevent that today. The next option is to try them for piracy in the state that captured them, but evidentiary and a host other legal problems will prevent conviction in western courts, to include the US. So the US and most others don’t want to capture them because they’d end up with a bunch pirates in the US who can’t be convicted and also can’t be deported. No one wants these people once captured, to include all the regional nations, western forces can’t/won’t hand them over to the Somali FRG because they’d likely be killed and we have laws preventing that that kind of deportation. In a few instances captured pirates have simply been disarmed and released.
    France is attempting to try eight in France that it captured earlier this year – good luck to them with that!
    The Navy would like nothing more than to get in some good gunnery practice, but that isn’t politically possible nor legal at the moment. So they are left with attempting to prevent and deter attacks in a huge area that sees well over 20000 ship transits a year using a relatively small fleet of warships.
    Blackwater is reportedly interested in helping – maybe it’s time for Congress to start issuing letters of Marque again….

  31. Patrick Lang says:

    Pirates are criminals. If you catch them in the act…
    A naval communications cell aboard likely target vessels could alert a navel task force nearby. That being done, these priotates should never reach a safe haven.
    Try them at sea. Caesar had the right idea. pl
    In re “flag officers.” I consider them all to be flag officers. What “Southern military college” was that. It was not VMI. I just looked it up. pl

  32. eakens says:

    Time to establish a No Dingy Zone.

  33. Fred says:

    My, seems we are all forgetting we have conservatives in office. They hate government so much that they’ve already failed to win two wars. Their ideology is such that they believe protecting commercial property, i.e. cruise ships and supertankers, should be done by private industry. Fortunately that fine firm of Blackwater is standing by to help out. and;jsessionid=7875FCCDF717595AEFE4EAB4CAC86F19?diaryId=14114
    Oh don’t let the fact that Eric Prince is a member of the family (Devos – Google him) that is the largest campaign contributor to the Republican Party in history, ever, bother you.
    As for the Navy, perhaps the current leadership of the navy of the only superpower on earth is waiting for a permission slip to take initiative from the guy who was busy reading “my pet goat” on 9-11. (On the bright side they can always claim that they have kept us save from the Al Qaeda navy)

  34. JohnH says:

    And we’re supposed to believe that all that firepower in the Persian Gulf is a deterrent against Iran and its speed boats!
    I guess the important thing about those aircraft carriers is that they make the warmongers FEEL strong, even though they’re ssupposed intention is to intimidate the weak.
    Didn’t anybody ever stop to think about how asymmetry works at sea?

  35. jamzo says:

    remember how mighty mouse sang his song on the way to rescue?
    “Here I come to save the day”
    That means that Mighty Blackwater is on the way.
    Yes sir, when there is a wrong to right Mighty Blackwater will join the fight.
    On the sea or on the land,
    Mighty Blackwater gets the situation well in hand.
    Blackwater Plans Effort Against Piracy .Article
    Private security firm Blackwater Worldwide began holding meetings in London on Tuesday with potential clients for a new business venture — protection from pirates.
    The Moyock, N.C., firm, which has grown rapidly through State Department security work in Iraq, has been courting shippers and insurance firms about protecting ships in pirate-infested waters. It’s meeting with more than a dozen firms this week and hopes to drum up its first contract.
    There have been almost 100 attempts this year to seize ships off East Africa, fewer than half of which were successful, according to the U.S. Navy. On Nov. 30, two skiffs harassed an Oceania Cruises Inc. ship passing through the Gulf of Aden. Eight shots were fired at the cruise liner, which evaded the boats, according to the Miami-based company.
    A chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden was seized by pirates last week, and earlier in November pirates grabbed a Saudi tanker loaded with $100 million of oil, which is still being held.
    Navies from the U.S., India, Russia and Europe, including the British navy, have stepped up their patrols off the coasts of Somalia and Kenya and in the Gulf of Aden, but don’t have the resources to protect all of the vessels that ply those waters. On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution supporting a European Union naval mission to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.
    The U.S. Navy is warning that ships need to be ready to fend for themselves in an area four times the size of Texas. “We’ve made a lot of recommendations that range from keeping ladders up on the ships’ sides to putting professional security teams on board,” said a Navy official.
    The pirates, often armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, have lured ships with false distress calls and even attempted assaults with fast-moving boats, according to reports from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre on recent attacks.
    Blackwater already has a ship it says could be deployed abroad to scare off or even challenge pirates: the 183-foot McArthur, which the company bought in 2006. It can carry two helicopters as well as rigid-hull inflatable boats favored by naval commandoes, and 30 guards in addition to a crew of 15. Blackwater’s database of contractors includes former Navy SEALs and Coast Guard personnel.
    “Its primary goal would be one of deterrence, that’s the idea here,” said Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell. The company would prefer to keep its guards aboard its own ship because of legal uncertainties. “We would be allowed to fire if fired upon; the right of self-defense is one that exists in international waters,” she said.
    Blackwater’s push to land its first antipiracy contract is part of a strategy to build its business outside its State Department security work in Iraq, which brings in between $300 million and $400 million a year. There are growing concerns in the security industry that costs and legal risks in Iraq could skyrocket because, under a new agreement, foreign contractors there are set to lose their immunity from local law next year.
    Shippers are wary of hiring combat-ready contractors to defend their oil tankers or cargo vessels because of liability issues and because pirates may be tempted to shoot first if they see armed guards. Kristi Clemens, president of security firm Aegis LLC, says it could even end up raising insurance rates.
    Write to August Cole at

  36. Curious says:

    So when will those pirates start carrying Igla?
    An Igla costs $60-80K. (Tho I seriously doubt average pirates know how to operate one)
    Missile Watch No. 2: Somalia
    CNN and AFP are reporting that the Shabaab, a militant wing of a Somali insurgent group, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), has threatened to treat “as an enemy combatant” any plane that attempts to land at Mogadishu Airport. According to AFP, the threat, which was posted on the Internet, was confirmed by Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow. The web posting reportedly includes a list of grievances used to justify the threat, including the airport’s use by “Ugandan and Bulgarian mercenaries,” money generated by the airport for the Ethiopian government, and harassment of “Somali religious personalities” by “US and Israeli secret services…” The warnings are accompanied by a graphic of a man pointing a shoulder-fired missile at a plane as it is landing.
    The threat is not to be taken lightly. Last year, the FAS identified Somalia as one of three MANPADS proliferation hotspots worldwide in response to numerous reports of illicit missile activity, most of which involved the ICU and the Shabaab. In 2006, UN investigators identified at least six shipments of MANPADS and other weapons to the violent Insurgent group, including a shipment of “50 units” of ”shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles and second generation infrared-guided anti-tank weapons” from Eritrea, “45 units” of surface-to-air missiles from Iran, and three surface-to-air missiles from Syria. In each case, the missiles were part of larger arms shipments that also included dozens of assault rifles, machine guns, and other small arms and light weapons. The Associated Press later reported that the ICU had received 200 shoulder-fired missiles from Eritrea alone.

  37. b says:

    Lots of gun swinging ideas here …
    There are reasons why the Somali pirates became pirates. Mainly two issues:
    International trawlers fishing away the fish the Somali’s need to make a living and toxic waste illegally dumped at their coast.
    So the Somali fishermen came up with their own coast guard that boarded foreign trawlers, chemical tankers and a Ukrainian ship that is smuggling weapons to South Sudan.
    They found it is a way to make money. Hey, everyone needs to make a living.
    There was little piracy around Somalia when the Islamic Courts ruled Somalia. But the U.S. with its Ethiopian proxies did away with that rule.
    What is left is anarchy and people who still have to make a living.
    To bomb them can end that problem, sure. Dead don’t eat. But is that really a solution?
    While there are now so many warships around Somalia, why don’t they make sure that there is no illegal foreign fishing in Somalia’s waters and no toxic chemical dumps?
    That even could be a real solution. Foreign navies serving as Somalia’s coast guard until they get their act together again.
    Instead people get gung-ho and want to kill, kill, kill pirates. Now how is an F-18 supposed to differentiate between legitimate Somali fishermen and real pirates?
    The Indians recently sank a trawler thinking it was a Somali pirate mothership. Instead they had killed 14 Thai’s who were illegally fishing in Somali waters.
    They Indians were embarrassed over this. I thought it was a good start for a sane policy.

  38. Andy says:

    A naval communications cell aboard likely target vessels could alert a navel task force nearby. That being done, these priotates should never reach a safe haven.
    That actually happens quite frequently. Unfortunately, the assaulted ship usually doesn’t send a distress until it’s being boarded so by the time any forces arrive (usually by helicopter – a chase with a merchant ship doing 10 knots and a naval vessel doing 35 still takes a long time and the naval vessel still must be nearby to catch it) the ship has already been captured. At that point the options are to disable the captured ship and/or retake it by force. Either option risks the the hostage crew getting killed or the ship getting scuttled or damaged. Many companies would rather pay the ransom since it’s often monetarily cheaper and safer for the crew, though pirates are lately raising ransoms.
    Personally, I don’t understand why we’re so stringently following international law here. We apparently have no problem conducting a raid into Syria to kill/capture people yet our leadership can’t bring itself to find some loopholes in international law to allow us to conduct a punitive campaign against some pirates?

  39. Abu Sinan says:

    I have to agree with you Leila. My son is in a public “PAC” (Preschool Autism Class) and there is talk about raising class sizes.
    Billions for Iraq and less for our children.
    There are legal issues with the pirates as some have mentioned.
    If it is hard to locate them on the seas, couldnt we hit the pirates on shore? Historically this has been done, maybe it is time to look at it again.

  40. rst says:

    Todd makes a sensible point about this being a media-driven story. Why alluva sudden?
    Might it have something to do with the simultaneous inauguration of AFRICOM? Umbrage taken over Ukrainian arms shipments? The widening ambitions of the Indian Navy? The interest of Japanese lawmakers in expanding the reach of their Maritime Self Defense Force? I hope those pirates have a good agent….

  41. stickler says:

    Well, the German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern just foiled a pirate attack on a German cruise liner, according to Spiegel. (German only, so far.) They fired warning shots from their deck guns and chased off the pirates.
    On Stern‘s website, the CDU’s defense spokesman in the Bundestag, is quoted saying that the German military’s mandate would be increased before the end of the year. One more frigate and 1500 soldiers, or so he claims.

  42. fasteddiez says:

    Andy said:
    “Personally, I don’t understand why we’re so stringently following international law here. We apparently have no problem conducting a raid into Syria to kill/capture people yet our leadership can’t bring itself to find some loopholes in international law to allow us to conduct a punitive campaign against some pirates?”
    Andy, Puhhhleeeez, First, why say WE? We don’t have a say! Secundo, The Somalis have no OIL infrastructure “ready to go as of now,” for them to seem to be a worthwhile bother, (every Somaliman (I know, “Somali”) you meet will swear to Allah that they are squatting on a sea of Oil.) This could be true, but the Intel on that is not public knowledge.
    Finalmente, They are Black, remember the Hutus and Tutsis? …..Untermenschen all.. to the present government.

  43. par4 says:

    Why don’t they go to Congress and ask for a bailout?

  44. JM Coyle says:

    Re Col Piroth at Dien Bien Phu. I believe he hugged a hand grenade. And the kool-aid was his own. He stated his counterbattery fire would quash any threat from Viet Minh artillery in the surrounding mountains. When proved incontrovertibly wrong on 13 Mar 54, he realized the post was doomed, and did what he thought was the only honorable thing.

  45. Mike Moscoe says:

    The problem with catching a pirate is that the bloody thing is a fishing boat until they spot an easy target. You folks remember how the vikings usually were simple business men … until a town looked ready for the easy taking.
    It turned out that the mother ship the INS frigate shot up was a Thai fishing boat taken by the pirates.
    Unless you can catch them red handed, these blokes will laugh, smile and wave. It makes the problem of separating the bad guys from the good fellows in Baghdad look easy. It might also explain why Denmark wasn’t all that interested in taking those prisoners to court.
    Add to that the simple fact that the pirates are rather careful not to kill the crews and you have a real problem. Blackwater is offering to put firepower on the merchants, but the owners aren’t all that interested in changing the rules of the game.
    Convoy through the dangerous water probably would work, if folks were willing to wait, run up costs (when the pay for shipping a container is down 50%!)
    The only real way to close down a pirate is to close down their ports and give the kids decent jobs with health benefits.
    Any suggestions.
    Mike Shepherd Moscoe

  46. ads says:

    I love the Flashman books but I couldn’t get into The Pyrates for some reason.
    “Admiral Benbow’s lost his legs
    And all on his stumps he begs
    Fight on, my English lads, fight on”

  47. Bartolo says:

    Why not use satellite-controlled drones to knock them out; and agree with those who ask what in hell we are getting for all our defense money.

  48. fnord says:

    Question is if its cost-effective to declare “War on piracy” and go all-in. Because, this is another matter of irregular warfare, the only thing the pirates need is patience. How long is the “international community” (Read: The west) willing to keep a sufficient force in the area? And unless we are willing to do Somalia all over again, why do we think this would succeed? (Theres a good thread over at on the differences between piracy and terrorism, btw.)
    Small off topic comment: Sir, have you noticed the continued attacks on the MSR outside Peshawar these last days? Seems someone is getting wise, 90 trucks burned down yesterday…

  49. John says:

    Stopping piracy is a job custom made for the littoral team. So why are the US Marines mired down in essentially land-locked countries fighting winless wars?
    What does on do with a captured pirate? The World Court – that not-so-little institution that the Bushies so foolishly smeared and debunked.

  50. Mark Logan says:

    @ Mike Moscoe
    Responding to your post for a couple of reasons. One, your post is closest to my thinking,
    and two, to give a shout out from my daughter who is a fan of your Kris Longknife books.
    Somalia has been an interest of mine for about 15 years now, and I
    have an opinion, everybody please feel free to criticize at will.
    This must be stopped. It will end badly for them. I see this leading my little
    Somali buddies down yet another road of grief and they certainly have had enough
    of that. Blocking the ports, if you can call them that, will prove ineffective because Somalia
    is nearly all beach, and those boats are beach launch able. Preventing the
    Somalians from fishing would be a crime. Raiding towns would have only a very
    temporary effect if they are not occupied permanently. Perhaps even if they
    I hold the opinion that there is no way to intimidate these men. For every one
    killed or captured there are hundreds waiting to take his place. Some have
    scratched heads on the legal problems of holding pirates. My solution simply not to. The
    boats that are hot pursued are to be splintered. If they surrender or a boat is stopped for
    inspection, any weapons found should be dumped overboard, as well as the occupants
    if proves a Thai fishing vessel with a missing crew or anything of that sort. Others
    should simply released after questioning. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they
    talk quite freely about their business, I suspect a fair percentage to see little wrong in it.
    But after that, give them a glass of tea and let them go. No one of importance
    will be in those boats, and no punishment dealt out will be of great discouragement to their
    brothers. I do not expect many to agree, but they have never lived in a
    place were wealth can be defined as a full belly. Only when ships can no longer be
    captured they will move on. Only then will they find something else to do.
    Nation building in Somalia would be a solution, but I do not believe anybody
    is interested in that. So what can be done?
    My addition to the obvious naval solution is to arm the merchantmen.
    The worlds navies are converging, and I rather like this as a team building exercise,
    but there is a limit to what they can accomplish with these large numbers of
    small boats that are mixed in with fishing fleets and are nearly invisible to radar.
    I think there are simply too many ships scattered over too wide an area to escort
    effectively, because once the pirates get aboard, it’s game over. Not enough time
    for the cavalry to arrive. The armaments must be able to engage pursuers at
    about 1000 yards, outside of effective RPG range. M2’s should suffice and their
    care and feeding is not hard to master. Any boat that close not showing her transom gets
    splashed with warning shots. The locals will soon learn to give passing ships
    a wide berth. This is not a replacement for convoying and armed escorts
    for as many ships as logistics allow, but a necessary enhancement of those efforts.
    The pirates are using false alarms and radio jamming. They are not stupid and
    will find unescorted vessels on occasion.
    This will of course mean the merchantmen will have to stand lookouts and
    be equipped with things like IR night vision equipment. No more one guy
    reading a radar on the bridge when passing through these areas.
    I am aware the shippers are highly resistant to this, but they will just have
    to harden the heck up. The maritime laws against this were written for
    an entirely different reason.
    They need to realize they are not in Kansas anymore.
    There are other places in the world pirates ply their trade. The shippers must
    either avoid these areas or take appropriate measures. Any ship that does
    not take these measures and is hijacked off the Horn should not only have
    to pay the ransom, but be fined as well for being part of the problem and not part
    of the solution.

  51. SAC Brat says:

    The pirates of the Crimson Permanent Assurance sail to New York. Silly but fun.
    This needs to be updated to show the cruise to Washington.

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