Thursday, July 19, 2012

File under "duh".

Maritime authorities recommend Western seafarers stay at least 200 nautical miles off Somalia and avoid the port of Mogadishu, the statement said.
Piracy has been with us for as long as men have gone down to the sea. It has only been beaten back when the great navies made a mission of wiping it out.

Until they do so again, and burn the nests to boot, anyone who willingly ventures near that wretched hive of scum and villainy (I mean Mogadishu, not Washington,) clearly knows what the windows on the short bus taste like.

30 comments:

Old NFO said...

We did a study back in the early 90's (pre-1st Gulf War), and it would have taken FIFTY USN assets to maintain a 'real' anti-piracy patrol over there... Needless to say, that report got buried. And now we're down to this. Personally I like the Russian's approach, kill em all, then blow up the boat, and put it on you tube! Saves taxpayer dollars!

Boat Guy said...

I'm with Old NFO (s'prise). I hate to endorse anything the Sov- uh, Russians do but in this case their crude methods are effective. One point - the merchant vessels of old were at least "ALLOWED" to be armed instead of being put at bay by a bunch of Euro-weenies as shipping companies were until recently (and for the most part still are).
Now that some companies are actually putting folks aboard who are capable of offering "meaningful feedback" to the pirates (and let's face it, a fire-team of recent SOI-graduated Marines led by a Cpl could do that) the pirates are a trifle more wary.
I DO like the idea of "burning the nest", good one, that...

Ian Argent said...

Piracy really only works when ship-killing weaponry its not available to the defender. In the age of sail and prior, canon weren't all that effective at sinking ships, but would do a number on crew and rigging; advantage to the pirates. Today, a man-portable weapon can home most non-dedicated warships (and a few warships) at the waterline, be reloaded, and do it again reliably. Shame that most vessels can't carry them...
That having been said, the best defense is not to be there. You can't avoid avoid the Straits of Malacca, but you can avoid the Horn of Africa.

Anonymous said...

"We did a study back in the early 90's (pre-1st Gulf War), and it would have taken FIFTY USN assets to maintain a 'real' anti-piracy patrol over there..."

Old NFO, with due respect to contraints I'm not aware of: Anti -piracy patrol my pale posterior would take 50 "assets", ok, if you did the stupidest thing I can imagine and "patrolled" randomly and had ships shuttling back and forth to major naval bases.

IMHO, it would take battalion of marines and a couple of ships with ship to ground artillery capability. A Step 1. find the pirate harbours- I expect this should take a day or two of satellite imagery review and some human intelligence. Step 2. Wait for your ultimatum to "knockit off now" to be ignored. Step 3. Marines go in and aggressively rescue what ships and hostages they can in <2 days. Step 4. Balance of Harbor is rubbleized after a 1 day warning. Step 5. A sign is posted that "we'll be back if this shite starts again"

I suspect by the second harbor that the local "authorities and powers" will suddenly take a great interest in , peace, order and good government - at least as governs harbours.

Drang said...

Anon @10:10: Malaysia and Indonesia would probably get pissy if we started burning their fishing villages. (You seem to be overestimating the infrastructure that supports the current piratical scourge.)

Rob said...

Piracy really only works when ship-killing weaponry its not available to the defender. In the age of sail and prior, canon weren't all that effective at sinking ships, but would do a number on crew and rigging; advantage to the pirates. Today, a man-portable weapon can home most non-dedicated warships (and a few warships) at the waterline, be reloaded, and do it again reliably.

Given the skiffs that most pirates work off, all you really need is a few strategically positioned Ma Deuces.

Stretch said...

I don't know ... burning out Washington seems a good idea. Just leave the Library of Congress alone.

Ian Argent said...

Ma Deuce is man-portable, last I checked... Though against the skiffs the main application would be anti-personnel, rather than anti-material, I will admit.

Drang said...

Library of Congress, National Archives, and Smithsonian.

Navigator said...

Merchant Vessels once had small arms for their defense. Only the Israelis have them today.
IMO USCG USDOS ill found policies of political correctness and ignoring existing anti-piracy treaties aids abets rewards and only encourages the pirates.

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

As someone who hopes to sail around the world someday, I am dismayed at the fact that it is impractical to carry any sort of firearms on a private vessel. Even a Ruger 10/22 would discourage almost all of those kinds of pirates.

One solution would be for America to tell the world that American flagged vessels are allowed to carry arms for self defense. Of course, it will never happen, but I can dream, Instead we have to remain soft targets.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:10 AM, July 19, 2012:

A common-sense proposal, for 1903. It has everything except double-timing through the streets in the dress uniform and khaki gaiters, with the Colors at the head of the column and uncased.

What I mean by the above is that it's a different country that would so assert itself, in what I wish were an unremarkable way, but that's not the one we currently live in.

24 hours after we emptied the magazines on some African shitehole, we would have full-blown rioting in all the urban areas. I was going to add that the Communist Chinese would take advantage of the situation to gain a firmer lodgement in Africa, but they're getting that already without our dealing justice to the pirates, so set that aside.

Next result would be the formation of a Somali or Ethiopian terrorist organization, if there isn't already one in existence, within our borders. So we'll have to start hardening government buildings, churches, hospitals, schools, bus and train stations, and people living in states with open carry laws might see legislative attacks on recently hard-won acknowledgment of what the Second Amendment states in fairly plain language, at least plain to those of us with any respect for the operative clause.

We could once upon a time pursue gunboat diplomacy, when this was a more monocultural country. Not now. We're balkanized. Too many different cultures with no apparent devotion to how the place was set up and run for a couple of centuries. Do a thought experiment. The Mexican drug war is so far killing Mexicans, for the most part. What do you think happens if an analogous situation to that in the Horn of Africa developed on the southern border? Does it seem likely to you the we'll send Task Force Pershing on a chevauch'ee to teach the Messcans not to kidnap American citizens? Have destroyers shell a fishing village where the bad guys have a base?

I think it'll be the same result, different demographic. We have large portions of the population who identify as American, but sometimes it doesn't strike me as all that sincere.

Forgive the snark I used at the start. Your plan to send an ARG, and land them after a bombardment, I agree with at heart. It put me in mind of the landing in Tangiers scene in "The Wind And The Lion".

Mike James

Anonymous said...

Darn it, for "full blown rioting in all the urban areas", read "all the urban areas of the United States".

Perhaps I'd better rethink my "Preview is for twinks" doctrine.

Mike James

Devynsdad said...

Having spent some quality-time at the Port of Mogadishu, I have to agree that it should be avoided at all cost.

Ed said...

"One solution would be for America to tell the world that American flagged vessels are allowed to carry arms for self defense."

Declare that attack on those American flagged vessels are tantamount to a declaration of war on the United States. Act vigorously to enforce the consequences of that declaration.

Liberian or Panamanian flagged vessels? Let Liberia or Panama handle it. Let the flag mean something other than "convenience".

Kristopher said...

Mike James: That is the coward's route. Fuck what they think of us. If they attack us, or harbor people who attack us, they need to die.

Formally declare on the harboring country.

Flatten it.

If a terrorist group forms, keep killing them until they run out of will or bodies.

Do not try to "nation build", or any other liberal horseshit. Just keep killing until they stop, or until nothing is left.

Trying to wage war humanely is a mistake.

John A said...

A lot of places around the world have laws against firearms on non-military ships.

Including us. If a crew member on a ship is found to have so much as a .22 pistol when the ship is docked in, say, the port of New York City (or Boston, or...) it will certainly be tied up on red tape for quite a while, and maybe even be siezed. If the owner has placed arms aboard, it is almost certain to be siezed. And that is just State/City laws: full-auto weaponry, most modern cannon, etc. the Coast Guard would intercept - possibly to turn the ship back to open sea, possibly to take it.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Lots of good opinion here, but this is actually in my job description, as I'm an American merchant mariner, one of those people who everyone's talking about.
Just like using your weapon in a real-life situation, there is a lot of bullshit and bluster about what we should be doing and what we really are doing, and what really happens out there.
First off, only 3-4 of the crew are permanently employed- the rest sign on for one voyage and are paid off, never to be seen again. There is no way to know beforehand, in most cases, where you will sail after the next port, even for the captain. You don't know if you have to go through pirate-infested waters on the voyage, and, since you signed Foreign Articles before the voyage starts YOU MAY NOT BE GIVEN PERMISSION TO LEAVE the ship until the voyage is complete, at the captain's discretion (hence the term 'jumping ship') It is worth remembering that there is no democracy at sea. American ships will usually let you go, but 'breaking articles' gets you abandoned wherever you are.
Profit margins on merchant shipping are awful, since 3rd world nations can use slave labor. As such, most ships that transit the Arabian Gulf or other pirate-infested waters can't, or won't, afford to hire armed security, and unlicensed merchant mariners may not carry arms on vessels not engaged in the carriage of non-military cargo under the Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) treaty. The officers can, if the company allows it, (but insurance forbids it, since it's more likely an accident or argument ending in gunfire will occur than a pirate attack).
American ships transiting pirate-infested waters may carry armed security guards (I've been on a ship that had Xe guards carrying .50's, which are the standard on American ships transiting the area). Better companies will carry armed guards.
All tough talk aside, no one wants war with Somalian pirate lords. We already killed some otherwise healthy American kids for nothing there a few years ago. The Japanese don't have a piracy issue because they simply tie them up and throw them in the water to drown, but a code of silence is kept. American sailors would be on the phone to everyone and their sister if we tried that.

Tam said...

Paul, Dammit!,

"You don't know if you have to go through pirate-infested waters on the voyage, and, since you signed Foreign Articles before the voyage starts YOU MAY NOT BE GIVEN PERMISSION TO LEAVE the ship until the voyage is complete..."

That's why I said "willingly venture near".

Someone who rounds the Horn of Africa because it's their job and that's the way the freighter's going is a different story from someone who does so because it looks like a nice place to sail their yacht or book an adventure cruise.

JohninMd(help!) said...

Really? I mean, really? Have you ever really seen what a .50 cal. Ralfus round is capable of doing? It'll hole a Bradley APC, I think it will handle any light-hulled vessel quite handlely. Stitch the hull at the water line, 20 miles off shore, where the Great Whites play? (and throw a little chum over the side as you go by, just for shits an' giggles?)

Ian Argent said...

You have to put that line of .50" holes pretty precisely on the waterline to sink the boat, eventually. You have to be a lot less precise to hit the crew, all of whom will notice a .50 round almost anywhere it hits them
And before it comes up, yes, I'm sure you could chop the boat into wee tiny pieces with a Ma Deuce. Why waste the ammo, though?

All of this begs the question of "how do you tell the difference between a Somali fisherman and a Somali pirate, anyway?" (Answer: you can't until the AKs and RPGs come out. And you can't assume that they are all one and the same and fire up any ramshackle trawler or skiff inside your horizon.)

Look, I view the paying of ransom to these clowns as Danegeld, and that self-defense as a human right includes merchant mariners at sea. I also wonder why passive defense measures aren't more prevalent. For one thing, how are these guys getting on to the ships? Can measures be taken to make that more difficult? I'm assuming grappling hooks and ropes - in which case there out to be simple countermeasures taken from the history of siege warfare, even if you can't, for safety reasons, put rope cutters on the rail.

Ken O said...

I believe that every shithole village that harbors these assholes should be subject to carpet bombing by our remaining B52's. Drop HE and WP around the clock for a few days and obliterate the joint. Salt the earth when we're done. Any women, children, "innocents" crew or vessels lost are acceptable collateral damage; just absolutely kick ass and put the fear of God back into them.

Ian Argent said...

Out of curiosity, how does that differ from bombing the apartment complex the Denver shooter lived in and salting the ruins? These guys aren't representatives of their government, our even necessarily of their village. We don't (or oughtn't, anyway) do collective punishment for the funds of the few. Kill then at sea, of you can identify them, sure. But lay off the terror campaign rhetoric.

Kristopher said...

Ian Argent: Those Denver apartment complexes are not harboring pirates.

Pretty damned simple, actually.

Attack Americans, and it is the Department of Defense's job to attack you.

It is not their job to be "fair". Attacking the population that supports our enemies is a legitimate act of war.

Ian Argent said...

I'll be sure to complain to my congressman that the DoD should bomb the next foreign town in which I'm mugged and beaten, then.

Seriously, Piracy is a heinous crime, sure. What about it justifies collective punishment at the death penalty level? "Because piracy!" is all very well and good to yell, but they aren't targeting Americans as Americans.

Zendo Deb said...

There were a couple of differences when the British - and it was mostly the British - got folks to stop "sailing on the account."

Pirates got hung. Sailing vessels had lots of rope, and this handy thing called a gallows (a horizontal piece of wood where the boom rests when you are not sailing)

The other thing folks did was arm their merchant seamen. Eventually, there were more rewarding ways to make a living.

Today, the Europeans are still practicing "catch and release" with the pirates. One of the States (Norway?) did sentence a bunch to 20 years in prison. 20 years in a European prison or 20 years in a Somali village. Which is worse I wonder.

And while the world is slowly getting around to arming vessels - or embarking mercenaries - that isn't easy because the Law of Sea doesn't like it, and when ships are in port (a prime spot for piracy, when the ships are stationary) they are disarmed, or disembarked. And in quite a few locations, the authorities are a part of the problem.

If someone can point to the cost increase of oil ($2 a barrel due to piracy or whatever) then you might get people to pay attention. But otherwise, most people only think of pirates when they think of Johnny Depp.

Tam said...

"Pirates got hung."

Also hanged. ;)

Tam said...

It took all my self control to not make a 'Long Dong Silver' joke. :D

Kristopher said...

Ian Argent:

It was damned effective for the Romans.

Attack one, and the Legion would burn your village to the ground, and sell off the survivors.

Ian Argent said...

The roman kingdom/republic/empire(s) made excellent history. None of them were a governmental system I'd care to live under, or whose ethics I think we should emulate.