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Old 04-15-2009, 09:17 AM   #141
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Then I think the SEALs up in the superstructure coordinated a little sound-powered-phone teamwork with Deck Division down on the fantail: "Hey, Boats, heave 'round on that towline a few feet, couldja? Do it nice and slow so that they don't notice the stern's getting bigger. OK, give it a few more feet. Just a little more... almost... come to Poppa... lemme tweak this gunsight a little... OK, hold it right there!!"

Meanwhile, on the lifeboat: "Hey, Habib, have you been messing with the towline? Why does the infidel ship seem to be getting so much bigger? I'll point my weapon at the captain so that he behaves, and you can pop your head up to take a look!"
I think you hit that nail on the head. They were probably reeling in those pirates at 2 ft/min or so, just waiting till their whole pirate heads (sans parrots) filled the gunsights.
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:40 AM   #142
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C'mon Nords, I'm looking for a big response from you on the action the military took to settle this. Can't believe these SEALS parachuted into the ocean, were retrieved by the Bainbridge and then shot the bad guys simultaneously without injury or death to the captain. Unbelieveable!!
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:47 AM   #143
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Looks like the French are getting into the game:
French warship captures pirates
BBC NEWS | Africa | French warship captures pirates

I hear they invited the pirates onboard for some wine and cheese, then locked the door behind them. But so far no one can find their wallets.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:13 AM   #144
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We keep hearing how the area is so large, impossible to patrol, etc. Why is it that this wouldn't work: As soon as a tanker is under attack, or has a clear suspicion of an imminent attack, it calls the Navy and jet fighters or helicopters are dispatched.

Obviously it wouldn't work, or we wouldn't have a pirate problem...
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:20 AM   #145
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We keep hearing how the area is so large, impossible to patrol, etc. Why is it that this wouldn't work: As soon as a tanker is under attack, or has a clear suspicion of an imminent attack, it calls the Navy and jet fighters or helicopters are dispatched.

Obviously it wouldn't work, or we wouldn't have a pirate problem...
I think this is the evolving strategy. It appears the cargo ships and tankers have started using safe rooms for the crew. When the pirates are on board, the crew musters in the safe room while they are calling for US naval support (air or sea). It buys time for a military response to liberate the ship.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:33 AM   #146
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Once the ship is under pirate control and there are hostages, everything becomes much harder, much riskier, and much more expensive. It's important to remember that nearly everything went "right" in this case. If the crew had not resisted (including stabbing one pirate through the hand) and if there had been more than a few of the bad guys, things could have turned out much worse. Once there are hostages, an overhead fighter does no good, and can be a liability.

Posting a few armed, trained personnel on each ship will significantly drive up the cost of these pirate operations, which might be all that is required. Convoy operations could also work. The US couldn't mandate defensive measures/participation in convoys, though I suppose we could refuse to put our own personnel at risk to intervene in situations in which the afflicted vessel didn't take prudent measures to defend itself and its crew against a known threat. But I doubt we'd do that.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:44 AM   #147
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As soon as a tanker is under attack, or has a clear suspicion of an imminent attack, it calls the Navy and jet fighters or helicopters are dispatched.
It's about timeliness and resources. Wouldn't do much good to get there with planes if the tanker is already in a hostage situation, or in position to be blown up by the pirates.

Not sure about the Navy, but in the Air Force, to get planes in quickly requires them to be on runway alert or in the air on round the clock combat air patrol. For each of those on alert used to require 3 on the ground undergoing maintenance, refueling, crew rest, etc. And that's just the planes, you also need comm units, command and control, etc, etc.

Something you would do for short periods in wartime, but not likely for random pirate attacks. The Navy might be better at this with aircraft carriers, but do you really want to tie up a carrier for this mission? It's what Nords said earlier.
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:36 PM   #148
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Convoy operations could also work.
1000 ships a day go through that region. A convoy sounds like it'd be far, far, more expensive than paying the occasional ransom.
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:40 PM   #149
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Convoy operations would definitely be a logistical headache and not without cost. But paying the "ocassional ransom" has gotten us to where we are today. We can only be sure that rewarding a certain type of behavior will engender more of it.
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:49 PM   #150
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When the ransom costs begin to approach the costs of maintaining a naval fleet out there, we can examine the issue again. Until then, paying ~$150mm seems a bargain compared to billions. Not to mention that the US Navy only has so many ships. Having 50 of them babysit cargo ships hardly fits in our national defense scheme.
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Old 04-15-2009, 12:54 PM   #151
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I'd hope there are other nations with an interest in free commerce through the region's waters so that this task would not fall to the US alone. Also, there could very well be a role for a commercial firm to provide this service, they'd probably find customers if the problem got bad enough or if the costs of protecting ships individually is prohibitive.
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Old 04-15-2009, 02:31 PM   #152
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Not to mention that the US Navy only has so many ships. Having 50 of them babysit cargo ships hardly fits in our national defense scheme.
Actually, maintaining safe open sea lanes is the Navy's number-one mission,
is it not ?

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I'd hope there are other nations with an interest in free commerce through the region's waters so that this task would not fall to the US alone.
Pundits on Charlie Rose said that historically the navies of multiple nations
seem to do much better at working cooperatively than do the ground
forces of multiple nations.
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Old 04-15-2009, 04:40 PM   #153
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It seems to me there are several problems with arguments for the passive approach regarding the pirates. Now to be fair, I have heard these arguments advocated more by folks in the media than board members.

1. The pirates have been nice to the captives and aren't killing anybody. If we start using violent means the pirates will escalate the violence.

It is simply false that pirates are not killing people. Both US ships that were attacked were carrying food supplies for neighboring Kenya. For those of you not up on whose starving in Africa this year. Kenya, which was recently one of Africa's success stories, has experienced 3 years of drought and famine. Earlier this year the Kenya President announced that up 10 million people were in danger of starvation.

When the pirates seize a ship the cargo remains rotting and delayed while the often months long ransom negotiations take place. A child who dies because the badly needed food or medicine doesn't arrive in time is just as dead as if pirate shot him with a AK47. Second by raising up insurance costs for the region, Aid organization are forced to spend their precious money buying insurance and paying ransom and not food or medice.

2. If we arm merchant ships, the pirates will simple increase the size and weapons used which will lead to more deaths.

Right now as the Alabama shows, pirates feel confident enough to attempt a hijacking with only a handful of men. If some merchant ships have a small group of security forces armed with automatic weapons (like a machine gun) they can easily repel 1/2 dozen pirates in zodiac to trying to toss grappling hooks and perhaps kill a few. Not knowing which ships will be armed the pirates will be forced to use larger attack force using 20 or 30 men and several boats. This will cut the number of attacks down by factor of 3 or 4.

Finally, it seems to me that Security council should declare the area around Aden a weapons free zone. All ships in the area will be subject to being stop and inspected by any UN naval vessel, and if any weapons are found on board (except for legitimate security agency). The crew will be returned to shore and the ship will be confiscated as a suspected pirate ship.

Legitimate Somalia fisherman will have nothing to fear other than the hassle of being stopped and inspected.
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Old 04-15-2009, 04:59 PM   #154
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Old 04-15-2009, 05:36 PM   #155
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Eh - Woot's sold out of these:

Shirt.Woot : Navy Seals
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Old 04-15-2009, 05:58 PM   #156
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Concerning tying up forces and the cost of a presence... I admit I'm speaking from ignorance, but these ships patrol somewhere, and are doing practice operations all the time. Might as well have some doing some practice near Somalia, right?
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Old 04-15-2009, 10:52 PM   #157
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Eh - Woot's sold out of these:

Shirt.Woot : Navy Seals

Here's another good one, but there's a waiting list:

Navy Seal Sniper Pirate T-Shirt
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:30 AM   #158
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Question: The pirates are now apparently threatening to capture American ships and kill their captives. Wasn't this the threat all along? I mean, didn't they capture ships and then implicitly or explicitly threaten to kill their captives unless they were paid a ransom? Is their current message sort of saying "No seriously guys, this time we mean business. We are REALLY gonna kill our captives. Unless you give us millions in ransom." What's their endgame if they have no hostages? Or is it just posturing?
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:45 AM   #159
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Sounds like a job for Q-ships.
Q-ship - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I like it. And there are lots of variants on this theme.
- Sell foam panels that a cargo ship can stick on that will make her look like a cruiser.
- Decoy combatants. Tow them a mile or so behind your merchant vessel to scare away the bad guys. Compete with rude robotic sailors on the rails taunting the pirates.
- Honeypot vessels: Unmanned drone vessels gussied up to look like a high-value cargo ship. Once the pirates board, a net goes over the top, the vessel sinks below the water for ten minutes with the pirates, then compressed air is blown into the ballast tanks to bring her back to the surface. Rinse and repeat. If the nets are too costly/troublesome, then just go with thick flypaper goo on the decks, like a Roach Motel. "Pirates Check In, But They Don't Check Out. (TM)"
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:49 AM   #160
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Question: The pirates are now apparently threatening to capture American ships and kill their captives. Wasn't this the threat all along? I mean, didn't they capture ships and then implicitly or explicitly threaten to kill their captives unless they were paid a ransom? Is there current message sort of saying "No seriously guys, this time we mean business. We are REALLY gonna kill our captives. Unless you give us millions in ransom." What's their endgame if they have no hostages? Or is it just posturing?
When they kill their captives they lose their leverage. There's a good reason why they didn't kill the American captain when they had him. If they did that, it was instantly "game over" as the reason for launching an all-out attack on the pirates would be gone.

The people being held hostage are worth a lot more alive than dead.
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