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Old 04-16-2009, 10:05 AM   #161
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OK, here's another question I haven't seen answered:

The pirates have several crew members as hostages, and the captain says:

"Hey, I'm the captain. Let those guys go and take me instead."

How is that a good deal for the pirates? Now they only have one hostage. Is the captain's life really more valuable?

With multiple hostages you can kill one to show that you are serious -- that doesn't work with only one.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:06 AM   #162
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With multiple hostages you can kill one to show that you are serious -- that doesn't work with only one.
And hence they're pirates and not nuclear physicists.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:34 AM   #163
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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.
I agree. I can't figure out a really good reason for the pirates to kill all or even some of the crew. I suppose if the cargo is valuable enough, then maybe they could hold the cargo itself hostage. Or in the case of oil tankers perhaps threaten to blow up the tanker and/or blow a hole in the hull to cause an oil spill and subsequent massive environmental damage.

But none of those scenarios really result in a deterrent to armed retaking of the vessel by the "good guys".

Heck, just "smoke em out" if they have killed all the crew. Or starve them out.
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:25 PM   #164
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- 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)"
Perhaps Nords can help with some the engineering involved in the ballast tanks and such. I have a friend that is an expert in asphalt maybe that will work better than flypaper.

Sam if you need help patenting this idea here are some links.
Invention Home (Jacob Enterprise) - Inventor & company services to develop an idea into a product line.
InventHelp, "The Invent Help People": Have an Invention Idea?

Oh and I want rights to the reality show. SamClem pirate hunter.
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Old 04-16-2009, 03:31 PM   #165
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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!!
Well, falling out of the sky and linking up with a ship has been SOP for decades. They even used to call it "Rubber Duckie", although that description probably projects the wrong image to the bad guys. They probably boarded the aircraft in Norfolk and stayed airborne all the way to the BAINBRIDGE, refueling several times inflight.

Shooting the bad guys-- that's what they spend all their time (and a tremendous quantity of ammunition) practicing. If there's any question at all, it's why there are only three dead pirates instead of four.

A frightening number of things could have gone wrong with this whole operation. It's nice to see the good guys win one for a change.

I highly recommend two books by Dick Couch, a retired Navy SEAL O-6 with a Vietnam POW rescue to his credit. Dick is still, I believe, the only author permitted to follow SEAL students through BUD/S and supplemental training:
Amazon.com: The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228: Dick Couch: Books
Amazon.com: The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident: Dick Couch: Books

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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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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.
Same with the Navy. And if the carrier was doing anything else but steaming in the correct direction, it might take 20-30 minutes to launch the first aircraft. Carriers do flight ops just about every day, but the missions are usually fully booked and diverting for a pirate call means that something else won't get done, they'll need more tankers, they'll need more air-control support, and so on.

The effective (controlling) range of a Navy fighter jet is probably down to 200-300 miles, even with Air Force tankers & battlespace-control aircraft on the scene. The carrier could easily be two or three times that distance away when the 911 call comes in. An amphibious warfare Expeditionary Strike Group is almost all helicopters, V-22 OSPREY, and old-fashioned Harrier jets. Again, not much more than 200 miles and more like 100+ when you're loaded down with ordnance.

A carrier can move at more than 30 knots, but running away from its screening ships might be a bad idea. A realistic speed of approach for the whole group would be more like 25 knots with a lot of underway refueling of the non-nuclear ships. Even if the carrier was doing flight training 50 miles away, it might be 30-60 minutes to whistle up a couple of fighter jets to overfly the merchant ship. Probably not enough response time.

And once all that maritime supremacy is on the scene, what next? It's like having the SWAT team do the hostage negotiations-- it doesn't matter how much firepower is on the scene, the problem is the hostage negotiations.

Taxpayers aren't willing to pay for it. I was commissioned into the 600-ship Navy of 1982 when we were going to have over two dozen aircraft carriers countering the Evil Empire at every domino. Then the Berlin Wall tumbled, DESERT STORM was declared a success, and everyone started clamoring for their share of the "peace dividend". (Never mind Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia, ...) Today we have 10 or 11 carriers in commission, depending on whether you declare the new one ready to operate or not. And the carriers are the funding centerpiece, too-- the 600-ship Navy was going to have 125 attack submarines, and current construction projections have today's numbers dipping into the low 50s before they start climbing again. We're actually ripping apart 25-year-old boomers to turn them into multi-mission guided-missile attack submarines because they happen to have enough nuclear fuel to stick around for a few more years.

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Actually, maintaining safe open sea lanes is the Navy's number-one mission, is it not ?
Yes, but for whom? Warships and oil tankers-- no problem. Definitely open and perhaps even safe. The current buzzwords are "forward presence" and "power projection".

But maritime security is a bit further down on the priority list. And food relief for starving African nations who aren't helping to control piracy in their local waters? Please contact the State Department to help us sort out our priorities...

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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?
Putting one carrier battlegroup somewhere (like the Arabian Gulf) actually requires 3-4 battlegroups-- one on station, one in shipyard, one working up for the deployment, and perhaps one somewhere in between. (Carriers can get a lot of work done in a shipyard in six months, but refueling their reactors takes them offline for a minimum of two years.) So... depending on how nasty the individual jobs are, you can have 24/7 presence in three or maybe four places. Anything more will not merit a carrier without canceling another operation. In an emergency you might get an amphibious ship full of pissed-off Marines who've just lost a liberty port.

Personnel operational tempo limitations strive to have sailors around homeport for a year between six-month deployments. Those numbers are inversely correlated to retention & recruiting, too-- make the deployments longer or the homeport times shorter, and people will vote with their feet.
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Old 04-16-2009, 03:40 PM   #166
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(Carriers can get a lot of work done in a shipyard in six months, but refueling their reactors takes them offline for a minimum of two years.)
Two YEARS!

Let me guess - an unintended consequence of awarding the refueling contract to the lowest bidder...
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:08 PM   #167
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Nords, what is your take on the feasibility of the US committing a limited amount of naval firepower along with many other countries in the Indian ocean vicinity kicking in some ships for a multi-national joint operation? I'm thinking India, China, European countries?
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:50 PM   #168
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Two YEARS!
Let me guess - an unintended consequence of awarding the refueling contract to the lowest bidder...
... who are heartily sorry that they agreed to be a party of any contract with Naval Reactors as a signatory...

Two years would be a freakin' fantastic medals-and-bonuses-all-around refueling overhaul. When I was at COMSUBPAC Current Ops, we had USS HONOLULU on the shelf for most of a year before officially entering the shipyard drydock. The minimal OPTEMPO was to let her operate at lowest-possible power prior to entering shipyard. The idea was to minimize radioactivity levels and decay heat so that shipyard could rip into her right away. However that meant that the ship could barely get underway, let alone do an exciting engineering drill set, without ferocious whining from the overhaul planners. Even after that extensive prep period, most overhauls go 3-4 years and the crew has totally forgotten how to operate at sea, so it takes another year before anyone trusts them to operate in open ocean-- let alone shoal waters.

Refueling is a niche business that only a few shipyards can handle, with a whole warehouse of specialty radioactive and contaminated tools & techniques. The VIRGINIA-class submarine reactor plant is specifically designed to last for 25-30 years, the life of the hull, no refueling, since a refueling overhaul is almost as expensive as buying new construction. I'm sure Naval Reactors is feverishly working on a long-life nuclear reactor for the next class of carrier.

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Nords, what is your take on the feasibility of the US committing a limited amount of naval firepower along with many other countries in the Indian ocean vicinity kicking in some ships for a multi-national joint operation? I'm thinking India, China, European countries?
It's happening now. There are perpetual references to "the 1000-ship navy" which involves multilateral exercises. Most of it is for antiterrorism and interoperability, for example this report: Admiral Stavridis: Diplomacy Key to Security - U.S. Naval Institute Some of it, like working with the People's Republic of China, is to show the Communist Chinese exactly what kind of trouble they could be getting into if they get frisky with Taiwan or other sovereign Asian countries. During an exercise a few years ago, senior PRC PLAN officers were flown in to live aboard U.S. aircraft carriers to observe three days of continuous flight ops explicitly so that they could understand how a sustained defense of the straits would be handled. When they found out that the Navy's exercise sorties, over Guam, were being planned & directed from an Air Force staff ashore on Oahu in real time, there were wide eyes and nervous gulps all around.

One of spouse's favorite Reserve jobs was coordinating the tours for senior officers of a dozen or so countries observing the Thai-Singapore-U.S. COBRA GOLD exercises. She (and her Thai counterparts) had to deal with military personalities & various rivalries from India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Israel, PRC, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, (South) Korea, and even Sri Lanka. As you can imagine, these guys (and they were always guys) did not play well with each other, and were at most one or two generations removed from their current ally's shooting war. But everyone got to know each other very well, and perhaps even develop a little respect. It was also astounding to more than one of these senior Asian officers that the U.S. tour team was led by several senior naval officers, all women, who had a number of men working "for" them. But they never quite believed that the ponytailed guy carrying her luggage was a retired steely-eyed killer of the deep. And they absolutely refused to believe that she'd been at sea on a submarine for a few days.

AFRICACOM has been struggling to gain diplomatic traction, and this incident may be what they need to get going. This piracy will cause at least two or three countries to get together for exercises in this area of the world 2-3x/year. The U.S. will send a couple AEGIS cruisers or destroyers, or maybe a Coast Guard cutter. Everyone will learn how to work together, and if the pirates happen to throw them a welcome-aboard party then I'm sure everyone will be happy to chip in for the ammunition...
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:06 AM   #169
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Good news, Nords. Thanks. I figured we were already working closely with other countries.
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:32 PM   #170
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When I was at COMSUBPAC Current Ops, we had USS HONOLULU on the shelf for most of a year before officially entering the shipyard drydock.
Hey, Nords, thanks for the stories and the great information. I've always wondered, though, why the Navy never got lower case keyboards, and why their abbreviations nearly spell the whole thing out. I assume it dates back to the old teletype keyboards, and not wanting to break with 200 years of tradition unhampered by progress tradition, but is there another reason?

I remember when I was pulling joint staff duty and we'd have to push staff summary sheets up from 4 to 3 and 2 letter coordination before sending it to the CC. But for Navy actions, 4 letters was just getting warmed up.

My favorite was COMNAVSPASUR, which I don't believe exists any more, but it sure made for a lot of typing. At least the Navy messages were easy to spot, they were the ones yelling at us. Which made them easy to "prioritize."
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:44 PM   #171
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We in the USAF used to joke that the Navy organization names (COM NAV PAC SUB GRU STA DES (insert other random syllables) blah blah) always sounded like a HAVE QUICK radio that was not quite sync'ed up with the net.
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:53 PM   #172
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Hey, Nords, thanks for the stories and the great information. I've always wondered, though, why the Navy never got lower case keyboards, and why their abbreviations nearly spell the whole thing out. I assume it dates back to the old teletype keyboards, and not wanting to break with 200 years of tradition unhampered by progress tradition, but is there another reason?
I remember when I was pulling joint staff duty and we'd have to push staff summary sheets up from 4 to 3 and 2 letter coordination before sending it to the CC. But for Navy actions, 4 letters was just getting warmed up.
My favorite was COMNAVSPASUR, which I don't believe exists any more, but it sure made for a lot of typing. At least the Navy messages were easy to spot, they were the ones yelling at us. Which made them easy to "prioritize."
Good question! I never had to suffer through joint duty.

I've been putting ship & command names in uppercase for so long that I don't even notice the habit. Maybe it's a teletype or bandwidth issue. Copying a submarine satellite broadcast at 2400 bits per second left no room for lower case, although those days probably ended with the last millenium. And in the 1980s, submarine radiomen had to copy CW at 16 WPM in order to qualify for advancement to E-6, so they always left the shift lock on.

But even today's NAVADMIN is in all uppercase:
http://www.npc.navy.mil/NR/rdonlyres...0/NAV09116.txt

Perhaps it's just a lowest-common-denominator tradition with the venerable OJ-172 teletype and its even more ancient Baudot code. I've included a photo below for the young whippersnappers...

Don't get me started on naval nuclear engineering vocabulary.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg OJ-172 teletype.jpg (21.4 KB, 3 views)
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:04 AM   #173
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The Dutch just captured a bunch of pirates from a mothership.

I'm not usually one to look at a ship and think it looks nice but the frigate that did it is one of the cleanest uncluttered looking warships I've seen.

http://www.seaforces.org/MARINT/NED/...n/image026.jpg

Looks like one of them fancy shmancy goalkeeper guns atop the rear hangar, can those engage surface targets? That would be interesting to see versus pirate skiff, would probably turn them into a red mist.
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Old 04-18-2009, 12:54 PM   #174
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The Dutch just captured a bunch of pirates from a mothership.
Wow, first us (US), then the French and now the Dutch. The US leading
the world. This is the way it's supposed to work, and does, when we don't
do our best to try to piss everyone else off.
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Old 04-18-2009, 05:19 PM   #175
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Wow, first us (US), then the French and now the Dutch. The US leading
the world. This is the way it's supposed to work, and does, when we don't
do our best to try to piss everyone else off.
Well not quite

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They can only arrest them if the pirates are from the Netherlands, the victims are from the Netherlands, or if they are in Netherlands waters," he said.
This hardly seems like good deterrence. Certainly far less so than been shot or tried for piracy. While hanging is probably out of the question in today's "civilized" world.

This 6 month old WSJ piece raises some interesting questions.
Why don't we hang pirates anymore?
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:06 PM   #176
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This hardly seems like good deterrence. Certainly far less so than been shot or tried for piracy. While hanging is probably out of the question in today's "civilized" world.
Having worked with the Dutch military, my guess is that they also needed approval from the local VBM/NOV soldier's union to make sure they used approved labor practices.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:02 PM   #177
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What ever happened to making the bad guys "walk the plank"? Hey, it seemed to work pretty well in a number of pirate flicks that I watched as a kid back in the 50's.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:18 PM   #178
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["Prosecuting detained pirates, that is simply not our business," said Cmdr. Achim Winkler of the EU mission Atalanta, which has nine warships and three maritime patrol planes guarding shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.
Apparently, deciding what to do with the pirates is tricky business. There are matters of jurisdiction, paying for court costs, gathering witnesses, Kenyan courts that have years-long backlogs, etc.

I don't think there would be a problem with holding a suspect temporarily (say, 60 days) while we sort out the issues in each case. Put these detainees in a little boat of their own to be towed in the wake of a US warship while she patrols. Individual cages on board a boat maybe 20 feet wide overall and a hundred feet long, with a flat bottom and a shallow draft. Send out food and water every day, make sure everyone is happy. After they've been aboard for 60 days, they get released to Somalia. 9 weeks of that should probably cure them of any yearnings for life at sea for a long while.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:29 PM   #179
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Since piracy off the coast of west Africa seems to be a growth industry these days, I' d expect that other criminal organizations would love to horn in on this scam.

A well organized Mafia, for example, could really make a killing attacking ships without the messy possibility that they could be caught and prosecuted. In criminal board rooms all over the world today, they are no doubt discussing this very idea along with PowerPoint presentations, coffee, and pastries.
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Old 04-20-2009, 12:24 PM   #180
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Maybe countries that have an interest in the safety of their shipping in that area of the world could get together and sponsor a pack of corvettes to patrol the area and destroy small boats that appear to be pirates. Go get em.
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