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Pirates
Old 11-23-2008, 11:18 PM   #1
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Pirates

I must not be understanding this Somali pirate thing. Why is it so hard to defend a huge supertanker from a bunch of thugs in speedboats? They can't sneak up on you 'cause you're in the ocean and you've got radar. If you had some people with machine guns on board, the pirates would have trouble boarding, yes?

What am I missing?
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Old 11-23-2008, 11:36 PM   #2
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There were only 25 crew members on the ship. It's perfectly possible they saw them approaching on radar but in the 20 minutes it took them to get to the other end of the ship to get guns and get back it was already taken over. Also it's probably not the best idea to be using explosives around a giant tank of crude.
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Old 11-23-2008, 11:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I must not be understanding this Somali pirate thing. Why is it so hard to defend a huge supertanker from a bunch of thugs in speedboats? They can't sneak up on you 'cause you're in the ocean and you've got radar. If you had some people with machine guns on board, the pirates would have trouble boarding, yes?

What am I missing?
Probably takes people with the proper equipment and training to do such things. Pirating wont last long. Your tax dollars will be put at work soon enough.
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Old 11-24-2008, 12:14 AM   #4
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Pirating wont last long.
Sounds like something the British Navy said every time they built a bigger boat with more guns in the 1500's.
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Old 11-24-2008, 12:22 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I must not be understanding this Somali pirate thing. Why is it so hard to defend a huge supertanker from a bunch of thugs in speedboats? They can't sneak up on you 'cause you're in the ocean and you've got radar. If you had some people with machine guns on board, the pirates would have trouble boarding, yes?

What am I missing?
Your average merchant seaman is no doubt completely untrained and unprepared in the ways of warfare. Besides, the MO of these pirates is to bring along some type of ship-to-ship weaponry and stand off outside of small arms range posing a threat to sink the ship if they don't comply. You need an actual combatant platform to cope with that tactic, not just a container ship with a few deckhands armed with AK-47s.

Not to mention what the pirates would do to the crew of a boat that fired upon them and lost the battle. Your average deckhand no doubt believes it better to be a hostage of pirates while waiting for the ransom to be paid as opposed to being an erstwhile repeller of boarders who got shot protecting a shipload of Chinese bathrobes enroute to Wal-Mart.

My first thought was that the seagoing powers would come to defend the rights of their merchant ships to conduct commerce, but apparently modern international law doesn't allow naval forces to swing a few pirates from the yardarm. Arresting and prosecuting them is not a viable option either as the laws are not very clear on some issues of jurisdiction. In fact, I heard something the other day that said that the British Navy had been counseled by her majesty's govt against arresting pirates because they might have a valid claim to asylum in the UK once they were in custody.

The Indian Navy sank a pirate boat the other day, but only after the pirates threatened to sink the naval vessel and then actually opened fire on it. Their armament included RPG missiles.

The hiring of private armed security is not an option in parts of the world due to international prohibitions against introducing weapons into some countries and regions. In those places, even if you are acting in self-defense, you can apparently open yourself up to criminal charges in your own country if you kill someone.

Some shipping companies are hiring private security who are armed with acoustic weapons like the LRAD. Long range acoustic device - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I admit I am a bit disappointed. I thought the various navies would steam over, sink a few pirate boats, and remove all of the attraction that a career as a pirate currently holds.
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Old 11-24-2008, 12:38 AM   #6
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Perhaps there is something that could be done to convince the Somalia govt to discourage the practice?
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Old 11-24-2008, 12:43 AM   #7
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Perhaps there is something that could be done to convince the Somalia govt to discourage the practice?
I don't think there has been one since the late 70's-early-80's. Well, not a government that was effectual.
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Old 11-24-2008, 12:50 AM   #8
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Sounds like something the British Navy said every time they built a bigger boat with more guns in the 1500's.
Whats your point? The British Navy of the 1500's vs what can be done now. No need to respond really..
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Old 11-24-2008, 01:01 AM   #9
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This seems like an ideal time for the US Navy to conduct some 'tests' of the latest UAV / Hellfires or SSMs. The Army, Air Force, Marine, and Naval air had all had many chances to test their systems since 1990, but the rest of the Navy probably feels left out.
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Old 11-24-2008, 02:13 AM   #10
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Whats your point? The British Navy of the 1500's vs what can be done now. No need to respond really..
What can be done now is more advanced on both sides. Pirates nowadays carry RPGs, artillery guns, and full spectrum jammers. It's ridiculous to think that with new technology we can or should police the world and prevent people from doing anything we don't like.
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:56 AM   #11
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One big problem is that the powers that be on Admiralty law decreed a few years ago: Captured pirates are to be returned to their country of origin for jurisdiction. Yeh, send them to Somalia.

Can't remember where I read it. Most likely it was that great humanitarian body the UN. Or some other useless do-gooders.

I prefer the old method: captured pirates hung from the yardarm. Of their own ship then let drift along as advertisment.
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:56 AM   #12
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These ships have flags - make the flag country put automated machine guns at about 4 to 12 points on the ship and a shift of operators (4 or 5 on each ship). I would think these ships (or at least the cargo) is insured by someone and they could require it as a condition to insurance. I am sure the cost would be far less than the cost of the $150 million dollars they have paid (year to date). Tell all shipping, that cannot properly identify itself as friend stay one mile out or be subject to being fired upon. I bet a few exercises of these guns out about mile would stop this s**t. Nice to see the UN has OPTED OUT of this situation.
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Old 11-24-2008, 06:40 AM   #13
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The guys from Blackwater may be looking for a new job, soon. Perhaps this is an opportunity.
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Old 11-24-2008, 07:32 AM   #14
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These ships have flags - make the flag country put automated machine guns at about 4 to 12 points on the ship and a shift of operators (4 or 5 on each ship). I would think these ships (or at least the cargo) is insured by someone and they could require it as a condition to insurance. I am sure the cost would be far less than the cost of the $150 million dollars they have paid (year to date). Tell all shipping, that cannot properly identify itself as friend stay one mile out or be subject to being fired upon. I bet a few exercises of these guns out about mile would stop this s**t. Nice to see the UN has OPTED OUT of this situation.
Huge logistical problems and expenses with what you propose, not to mention legal problems. Plus there will be accidents, mistaken firings, etc. You wanna be nearby when a refined products tanker accidentally gets hit with some tracer rounds? Not me.

I don't know what teh solution is, but I suspect it will be more patrols by navies.
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Old 11-24-2008, 07:58 AM   #15
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Oil, being inherently inflammable, is a dangerous product to transport. That protects the pirates because nobody wants to blow up a tanker of that size. Even pipelines can be targeted. One more reason to increase research on green technologies!

And as for the Somali government......what government?

At least another tanker has been saved...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl...rnational/home
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Old 11-24-2008, 10:03 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by CyclingInvestor View Post
This seems like an ideal time for the US Navy to conduct some 'tests' of the latest UAV / Hellfires or SSMs. The Army, Air Force, Marine, and Naval air had all had many chances to test their systems since 1990, but the rest of the Navy probably feels left out.
I can't imagine a more miserable submarine mission than loitering around shipping lanes near pirate-infested areas.

Besides the cost of putting the ordnance on target probably exceeds the value of the ransom-- so far. The pirates have to tread a fine line between mordida and mortality.
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Old 11-24-2008, 10:10 AM   #17
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Two stories about Somalia in today's Chicago Tribune (one of those newspapers that won't be around to report on things in the near future):

Shipping groups call for military blockade along Somali coast to battle worsening piracy -- chicagotribune.com

'NOBODY IS WATCHING' -- chicagotribune.com
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Old 11-24-2008, 10:34 AM   #18
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Besides the cost of putting the ordnance on target probably exceeds the value of the ransom-- so far. The pirates have to tread a fine line between mordida and mortality.
I think that is the answer of why more isn't being done.

The cost of preventing pirate hijackings is much more than the cost of paying the ransom when you do get hijacked. It's just business. The pirates are only requesting a million or two USD's. The crew is treated very well (that increases the ransom since the ship owners don't pay as much for "damaged goods"). Why would I, as a shipper, pay hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to arm my ships to prevent a still relatively small chance of hijacking, given the potential legal ramifications? These pirates are carrying RPG's and ship mounted machine guns in addition to automatic small arms. You can't just give the ship crews a couple of AK's and a few clips of ammo and expect them to win a battle.
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Old 11-24-2008, 10:47 AM   #19
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The guys from Blackwater may be looking for a new job, soon. Perhaps this is an opportunity.
This would work, with a little bit of legal cover. Private security. Either in stand-alone boats of their own or (more practically) aboard the protected vessel. Four .50 cal positions on these vessels would keep the prospective boarders at arms length, and several proficient gunners with AT-14-type laser-guided antitank missiles could engage speedboats/vessels at up 5km, and keep them beyond RPG range.

Plus, those 10-20 Blackwater contractors, knowing what will happen to them if the ship is seized, would create a whole-nuther situation aboard the boat once the pirates board.

When beyond the pirate threat, these guys pack up and go back to Kuwait to board their next customer.

The boats don't need to be 100% unboardable--just less apealling targets than other vessels. The bar will go up.
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Old 11-24-2008, 11:00 AM   #20
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Tanker + $100,000,000 in oil, $25M ransom vs five or six Blackwater types on board. Would seem to be a easy choice. Not having a clue what is involved, i.e. what is the law of the sea in this respect, it would seem like an easy choice. I'll bet it is not that easy.
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