The Return of Somali Pirates

pirate-flagSome of you may remember quite a while ago when I did a post on the pirates in Somalia. At that time I did the post for my mom because she wanted to know about the pirates, regardless of whether politics in America were pertinent or not. This time I am writing about the Somali pirates for two reasons. First because she wants to know about them, but second because now they are important to write about in terms of politics. As I discussed in the intro yesterday, the “March to Socialism” series will not run every day, but instead every other day or so, as it takes more research and time to write. On off days I am writing stuff a bit more from the hip. But I didn’t want to have a day without a bit of controversy….

maersk-alabamaSo the quick background. Last week an US flagged, Danish owned ship in the waters off Africa. The ship, Maersk Alabama, was carrying US food relief to refugees via Kenya. After hours and several attempts, the pirates were able to finally board the ship. The crew eventually repelled the attackers, who fled aboard a lifeboat, however they took a hostage when doing so, the ships Captain, Richard Phillips. Second mate Ken Quinn said the crew had released a pirate they had been holding for 12 hours in the hope the hijakers would return the Captain. But the Somali pirates would do no such thing and demanded a ransom for the Captain. This was the first hijacking of a merchant US vessel in over 200 years.

A US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer was dispatched to the area and negotiations began to get the release of the Captain. Using FBI hostage negotiators, they worked to find a solution. They were offered only one, pay up or the Captain dies. The US Navy continued to negotiate for several days while awaiting an opportunity to end the stand off. Captain Fisher took one opportunity to escape by diving in the water. They quickly retrieved him. During this time Navy S.E.A.L. snipers moved in and set up positions and waited. When Captain fisher attempted to escape by diving in the water a second time, they acted. Snipers took down 3 of the 4 pirates, captured the 4th, and rescued the Captain.

Captain Richard Phillips

Captain Richard Phillips

It should be noted that the American rescue followed a similar operation Friday carried out by French navy commandos, who stormed a pirate-held sailboat, the Tanit, in a shootout at sea that killed two pirates and freed four French hostages. The French owner of the vessel was also killed in the assault. For the record the stunning losses in two instances has not deterred the pirates, who took another ship last night, details on the ship are yet unreleased. 

Now the question comes: What next? Let’s start with future actions from merchant ships who are moving through those waters. Anti-pirate training is not going to help. This crew was able to repel the pirates after the Captain surrendered himself in exchange for the safety of his crew. But the bottom line is that the small crews on these massive vessels cannot protect them and do their jobs. They train primarily in non-lethal measures because doing otherwise puts the crew at risk. When trained these crews are told that if they discharge a weapon they are not protected by America and will be subject to prosecution in the country of jurisdiction. 

It would seem that arming the crews better or hiring security for these ships would be the way to go. But not so fast. The liability insurance alone is massive, over $750k per shipment, when weapons are brought into the picture, which makes doing so not cost effective. It is cheaper to pay the ransom on the odd chance your ship gets taken. Not to mention there are specific laws that govern the possession of weapons in international waters. 

So how do we protect these ships that are simply carrying out the normal business of transporting goods from country to country? Do we dedicate a portion of our Navy to patrolling the waters constantly looking for Pirates and waiting to see them do harm? Certainly we cannot just start shooting any boat we think is a group of pirates. The first time one of those boats ends up being a fishing vessel, there would be hell to pay. 

somali_piratesAnd yet we cannot do nothing. The pirates are not going to stop. Pirates currently hold more than a dozen foreign ships, most moored along the Horn of Africa nation’s long coast, with about 230 foreign sailors from Russia to the Philippines. “Every country will be treated the way it treats us,” said Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding a Greek ship anchored in the pirate den of Gaan, a central Somali town. “In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying,” he told The Associated Press by telephone. “We will retaliate for the killings of our men.”

Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old self-proclaimed pirate, told The Associated Press that the three pirates’ deaths were “a painful experience.” Speaking from the pirate hub, Eyl, he added: “this will be a good lesson for us. From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them,” Habeb said. “Now they became our number one enemy,” he said of U.S. forces. The pirates feel like they have been wronged. Poor guys, all they wanted to do was hijack a boat and ransom it for millions. How dare we kill them for their violence.

APTOPIX SOMALIA PIRACYAnd what of Somalia itself. The nation is out of control, and while they condemn the pirates actions, they are in no position to stop them. Are we within our rights to attack? To hit the pirate hubs hard and take out their bases? I know that there are many who say yes. I feel confident that Black Flag will say no. He will deem it retribution against people who are not acting violently, making us the bad guys if we strike back. 

But they struck first. I know he will also say we ruined Somalia and caused their dire straights in the first place. Because any other position would go against how evil the US government is and we certainly can be blamed for any and every action taken against us. But I am not sure I agree this time. I know, regardless of BF’s claims, that we were trying to help in Somalia in 1993. I also know that because of the personal nature of it for me, I hold a bias against Somalia and would level the country for spitting oddly. And because it is personal I am going to reserve my opinion for now and let everyone else have their say. 

So what say you all? What’s next? How far should we take this? How can we make those waters safe? Do the pirates, who are doing wrong, both morally and legally, have any right to safety from the wrath of those countries they choose to pick a fight with? Or did they seal their doom by deciding they had the right to an American ship?



  1. This ain’t gonna be popular, USW.

    Once upon a time in a far off country called South Viet Nam, there came a “congressional fact-finding mission”. The aim of this mission was to determine the morale of the young Marines and soldiers fighting the dastardly Viet Cong. After a week or so of hearing exactly what they wanted to hear, they stopped by a place in the I Corps area called Quang Tri. There they met a young Marine squad leader who was part of the security assigned to keep these folks alive while on their tour. They made the sad mistake of asking this young Marine just how would he provide an end to this war . . .

    I lost a stripe.

    I learned very quickly that you don’t tell a U.S. Congressman to pack up the bags of our wonderful Secretary of Defense along with all of the politicians (CIC included) and put them out here in this mess with all of us, or take all of us out of there and then nuke the place until there is no one left but the cockroaches.

    Well, maybe not in those EXACT words.

    But I bet that you knew what my response would be.

    KUDOS to U.S. Navy Seals.

    The score now stands as thus; U.S. Navy Seals 3 = Somali Pirates 0

    Oh, BTW – Didn’t I hear that the Messiah wants to lower our nuclear arsenal? I have an idea as to how he can accomplish that without causing an over amount of concern from our military folks . . . . . 😉

    Just my humble opinion.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      Amazing to hear you guys talk about life and liberty and blah blah blah on other posts and then read the original plus post number one. Do our own ideals only apply on our own soil?

      I also applaud the job of the Seals – hopefully they stay prepped for future engagements of the same.

      • Ray: How exactly does the original post violate those principles. I saw US asking alot of hard questions becasue of our stance on liberty. This provides a good example, or test if you will of how do we live by that principle in the modern world.

        Me thinks you overreacted to his personal feelings which I am sure are justified. Please note that he didn’t take action, just jeoplardized his run for President. I can see re-runs of the old Goldwater ads, mushroom clouds and innocent little baby pirates picking the pedels off the flower.

        WHAT WOULD YOU DO RAY??????

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          “nuke the place until there is no one left but the cockroaches” – your words not mine. If you are not suggesting we ‘nuke ’em’ then I stand corrected.

          • Ray: Perhaps my old timers is kicking in but I do not recall ever using that term nor do I find it in US’s post.

            G.A. uses it in describing his answer to a question by a congressman in a place far far away in a time long long ago. Perhaps over the top but an honest answer from a front line NCO who was probably getting shot at every day or so. I’ll let G.A. defend himself but I would suggest that the point is our leaders often don’t think through the end game and most often are not willing to do what is needed to WIN outright. In WAR Politics always comes into play and young men and women die because it does.

            Remember what got McArthur fired? He suggested we just spread nuclear waste along the Chinese/North Korean border, to keep the Chinese out of the peninsula. Not politically correct, but a damn good military strategy.

            And no, I don’t want to Nuke Somalia or anyone else. But I reserve the right in retaliation against those who would destroy me.


            • Ray Hawkins says:

              I’ll stop reading b/n the lines – to me it seemed GA was suggesting as well that we ‘nuke’ the Somalis.

      • Curious question for you ray – JUST HOW LONG DO WE PUT UP WITH THIS BS? How many innocent people must suffer at the hands of this kind of crap coming out of this area of the world?

        WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Bend down in a disgustingly disgraceful bow while kissing their hands?

        Wake up! The only reason a bully is a bully is that he is a coward – A bully ONLY picks on those who don’t fight back!

        How long do y9ou want to be bullied? Appeasement to a bully is nothing but a slave mentality!

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          So who is the bully now? Eh!

          What BS are you speaking to specifically? If its something that results in your mind as ‘nuke ’em sumbitches’ then you and I are not going to have a sensible dialogue.

          • Try 9/11/01, try the Cole “incident”, try this country being “the ultimate Satan”, try being spit on by literally every other nation when THIS nation has done more to feed the hungry, cure the diseased, and that is without any government involvement. Ever hear of Feed the children foundation, Doctors without borders, and literally hundreds of other organizations that Americans donate hundreds of millions of dollars to each and every year – Only to be called the bad guy when some two bit anarchist of a country decides to threaten to kill someone unless we who donate more to the needy than any other nation on this planet give them a couple of million dollars?

            How is that for BS.

            You chide me for my anger. You attempt to show that I am the bad guy when I am fed up with the way we are treated by the rest of this world. What would you do? Have our President prostrate himself to their so-called leader and apologize and beg for mercy?

            What would you do? Offer up MORE innocent people for them to slaughter?


            • Ray Hawkins says:

              I certainly would not become one of “them”. That is worse. Two wrongs don’t make a right do they?

          • I’d rather be a bully than a chump, a wussie, ‘popular’, spit upon, or dead. The only thing a bully understands is another bully. The only thing a bully respects is a bigger bully. So when dealing with a bully, be the bigger bully. Then you win. When not dealing with a bully, deal with respect and equality. Sheesh, didn’t you learn anything on the playground?

        • Wake up! The only reason a bully is a bully is that he is a coward – A bully ONLY picks on those who don’t fight back!


          • Were you there? I wasn’t.

            Do you know why we went there?

            Enlighten me please. Show me that we, the U.S. has bullied our way around this world.

            Oh, and by the way, do you know what the Pan American Treaty is?

  2. goodtimepolitics says:

    Did Obama screw up by giving the go ahead to kill the pirates? I don’t really think so, but now he will have to carry out the mission to shut them down!

  3. TruthSeeker says:

    Since Obama has clearely made the decision to kill the Pirates, Obama will now own all retalliation. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was the right decision, but we all know Obama will not take any responsibility for any future actions and not do what is write to correct this issue in the future (leveling the hub). The Bush policy of getting the bad guy no matter whey they live is one I can easily endorse. Obama not so.

    This will be shown as a weakness if Obama doesn’t do any thing else about this. It will show the world that we will sit and wait to be attacked before we do any kind of prevention. And that prevention by Obama will be very limited and not go towards the ROOT of the problem.

    Just my humble opinion.

    I also agree there is a better way to reduce our nukes! I am with you on this one.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      It must kill you guys to say President Obama made the right call. And nukes? What truth do you seek my friend? And what is this of a “get the bad guy no matter where he lives” strategy supposedly used by President Bush? I guess that explains why we took the pursuit of that parasite bin Laden into Pakistan eh? Oh wait – we didn’t – ooops.

      • TruthSeeker says:

        Ray, I guess you forgot that Pakistan has Nuclear Weapons. You dont invade a country that has Nukes unless they approve it. Use your brain please.

        Obama did make the right call. I even said he did. What will kill YOU is the fact that when the Pirates start killing Americans on site, you will find a way to blame Bush and not accept the fact the Obama raised the ante.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          Hmmm – are we talking offensive action in Pakistan now? You tell me.

          I totally accept that the ante has been raised – there was no choice as the situation has escalated – and, I harbor no ill will that nothing was done militarily under President Bush. As a result of the escalation (by the pirates, not us) there may be downstream American casualties – that is what happens.

          • Ray,

            Obama has made no changes in doctrine established by Bush. So we have been using remotes to attack insurgents in Pakistan. And Obama is sending more troops, with no changes in ROE.

      • RAY:

        I am sorry I just don’t get it. “It must kill you guys to say President Obama made the right call. ”

        Why should it kill any of us to admit when he does something we consider the right move? If Obama had let the big companies fail and embrased free market principles we would all be cheering, wouldn’t you???


        Truthseeker has raised a valid point. By killing the pirates we have escalated the violence. Now how do the pirates respond and then how do we respond? Whatever happens this will be Mr. Obama’s issue, not Mr. Bush or anyone else. That is simple fact not an attack on Obama.

        What should the US and the rest of the world do to protect shipping. Certainly we can not allow pirates to continue as they have, it is only getting worse. There is very little risk on their side under the current situation.

        USW brought some good info to the table. I didn’t know there were international agreements preventing the arming of these ships or that crew members who shoot a pirate could be prosecuted. Seems that maybe that would be a place to start.


        • Ray Hawkins says:

          What is crazy here is that mere months into his administration the guy has taken action that (I think) has been universally approved as necessary. The situation has escalated which means, very unfortunately, that bad things will happen. Its tough to take an argument seriously when credit is begrudgingly and haltingly given for a proper action and then followed by the “yeah, but……”. It just gets old. Please re-read the last sentence of his 2nd paragraph before you fly off the handle again.

          • Richmond Spitfire says:

            Hi Ray,

            From MY perspective, this is the FIRST action so far in his term that BO has taken that was appropriate; I hope as he matures and becomes more experienced that he will continue to take appropriate actions.

            I totally agree with JAC: “IT IS NOT THE MAN IT IS HIS DAMN POLICIES I HATE”!

            He now MUST follow-through on the Somali Pirate situation and see it to the end-state; we weren’t specifically involved in the situation until the Pirates involved us…As it should be.

          • Ray:

            I don’t think I am flying off the handle. Lets look at the entire thought, including the last sentence.

            “This will be shown as a weakness if Obama doesn’t do any thing else about this. It will show the world that we will sit and wait to be attacked before we do any kind of prevention. And that prevention by Obama will be very limited and not go towards the ROOT of the problem.”

            I may be missing his intent but this statement is nothing more than an analysis of if he does this then the world will view it this way and if they do this will be the outcome. The same sort of thing any talking head on TV news would perform. So I guess either your overly sensitive or I am wrong about Truthseekers intent.

            Perhaps we should let him address the matter.

            • Ray Hawkins says:

              Let’s just put a period on it eh? His sentence structure forces me to read between the lines which usually is not good.

        • esomhillgazette says:

          Me either JAC! When US said that about International waters my mouth fell open! I mean, are you freakin’ kidding me?

          I think International Law is just a tad bit ridiculous! Take the Bush Admin Officials being prosecuted (possibly) by Spain for advice given to the President. For ADVICE!

          • International Law is just a tool to for little pissant countries to poke America in the eye. And a slight majority of Americans are just fine with that. At least that’s how I’ve come to view ‘International Law’.

      • esomhillgazette says:

        Ray: It doesn’t kill me to say Obama made the right call! And if you have noticed the last couple of days, and judging by your response you did, then you know I ain’t no Obama fan.
        Obama made the call he SHOULD have made as President and CIC. Kudos to him! Obama for President!!! Oh wait. He already is.

        Anyway, now that he has made the call and did the right thing, I can say in this one instance that I am proud of his decision. Apparently not as proud as he was, to judge by his press conference.

        But now that he has, he faces yet more decisions because of it. The pirates have already puffed out their chests and declared that “we would pay for killing those poor innocent pirates who were only trying to make a dishonest buck”! Not an exact quote, but close enough for government work! So what does he do now? Sit and wait for them to strike again? Take preemptive action and kick ass! Kill ’em all, and let God Sort ’em out? W H A T?

        I won’t try and predict what he’s going to do because honestly I didn’t expect him to make the hard decision this time. I will say that I am glad I was wrong. This time.

  4. We’ve certainly upped the ante in the pirate game.It’s now going to be deadly to have Americans captured by Somali pirates.Perhaps we’ve also upped the ante for other nations as well.Time will tell that story.All we have to do now is decide our course of action.We have options.

    First option is that we can attack the pirate bases and blow hell out of everything and hope we don’t kill too many non-combatants.We’re not very good at doing that,so I’d say that option needs to be shelved until some time long in the future.

    Next option is that we can stop American ships in the area.No ships,no Americans,no problems.We cerainly don’t need to be losing American lives and or American ransom money to be providing aid to Kenya,but of course there are other shipping carried out by Americans that we need to have happen.

    Third option is to escort all America ships through this area to ensure the safety of the crews.We would need to develop a plan of how this is to be carried out.This is the option we need to look at immediately as we cannot afford to have one American fall into the hands of the Somali pirates.We know what the results are going to be and they are unacceptable.

    We supposedly don’t pay ransoms and the rest of the world does.Their money is only going to encourage more piracy.Their money is going to buy more sophisticated weapons for the pirates and they will become better trained and more dangerous.

    This has become our personal problem now and we must solve our problem in our way.The rest of the world can deal with theirs as they see fit.I believe the immediate relief is to escort our ships through until a more comprehensive plan can be worked out.Someday,maybe,the rest of the world will get tired of paying the pirates and join us,but don’t hold your breath until they do.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      You gave 3 options. I would say, of the three, option one is the most practical, least expensive, and easiest to carry out. It is also easier to carry out option 1 now before the pirates get better weapons and training and become more sophisticated in their methods.

      Option 2 just isn’t going to happen, and Option 3 would be prohibitively expensive as well as being a misuse of the Navy.

      I am not saying that I am necessarily FOR option 1. If we could figure out a way to solve the problem without resorting to blowing up their hubs and probably harming innocent people, that would certainly be preferable. However, putting Option #1 off until “some time long in the future” would just give these pirates time to obtain better weapons and better training, and develop more sophisticated methods.

      One thing that we need to remember is that the pirates are not going to immediately kill captains and crew members. These hostages are the leverage they use to obtain their ransoms. If they were to kill everyone on a ship and simply hold the cargo “hostage”, Navy Seal teams would simply swarm the captive ship and kill all of the pirates immediately.

      Knowing that the pirates HAVE to keep at least some hostages alive in order to get what they want actually makes the situation more complicated for us and them once they have actually hijacked a ship.

      Therefore, the key is to PREVENT them from taking over any ships in the first place. I submit that there better be an “Option 4” that is better than Option 2 or Option 3, because, if not, we are probably going to need to pursue Option 1 if we really want to put a stop to the problem.

      Of course, if we do use Option 1, we can then pay to rebuild all of Somalia and continue to send them millions in US Aid afterwards (I am sure they are probably getting millions in US Aid already, though none of that money is going to the pirates apparently).

      • CWO2USNRet says:

        This wouldn’t be a misuse of the Navy. Protection of commercial shipping is one of the Navy’s primary missions. Expensive, certainly.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      Much to a lot of chagrin I am sure – I favor option one as presented. I’ve always been a tremendous advocate of deep support and use of our Special Forces and the technology available to us. This should be matched with a very pointed and impatient diplomatic approach that leaves little to the imagination of for negotiation.

      • Where do you stand? Are you for or against swift and decisive action? Why did you blast my opinion and then say in the next breath that “I’ve always been a tremendous advocate of deep support and use of our Special Forces and the technology available to us.”

        Negotiate? With whom? Somalia is – and BF is going to blast me on this – a nation controlled by anarchists. Who are you going to have your “diplomatic approach” with? Negotiate with Pirates? Get real!

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          I’d advocate a strategy similar to the surge process used in Iraq and the active engagement of the insurgents. We talk, but we’re brief and stand to our principles. If that does not work then we strategically engage and focus on the physical assets of these folks. As has been pointed out, the majority of the problems in Somalia are caused by a small number of people – the 80/20 rule. Unless we deal with that 20 directly and swiftly the problem will just escalate and worsen.

          • USWeapon says:

            Good point Ray. And a nice tie-in to what we are doing in Iraq. When dealing with insurgency and with tribal leaders, we are not dealing with a government. The same aspect could be done in dealing with the pirate leaders.

    • CWO2USNRet says:

      “First option is that we can attack the pirate bases and blow hell out of everything and hope we don’t kill too many non-combatants.We’re not very good at doing that,so I’d say that option needs to be shelved until some time long in the future.”

      I’d say we are very good at limiting ‘collateral damage’ during surgical strikes. To the extent we fail, it is usually because the enemy is engaging in war crimes by using non-combatants as human shields.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Agreed – human shields are an unfortunate but sobering fact of war.

      • This is not a war.It is a criminal act by people coming from Somalia who may or may not be Somali citizens.Once these pirates come off that shore into open water,I say kill them all,but do not endanger innocent civilians by surgical strikes of any kind on Somali soil.

        • CWO2USNRet says:

          That’s true. I don’t advocate a large scale armed incursion either. If evidence could be obtained against specific individuals then we could consider inserting a small covert force to arrest and exfiltrate the pirate(s).

          • “If evidence could be obtained against specific individuals then we could consider inserting a small covert force to arrest and exfiltrate the pirate(s).”

            Have you been there?

            That idea is nothing but a pipe dream, my friend, and suicidal at best!

            I know, you are retired Navy and I am a retired Marine – oil & vinegar. The only thing these thugs understand is death.

  5. Mother in Law says:

    Thanks for doing the article. It amazing me how much goes on in this world that people don’t think is a big deal but we had one of our own held and I sat here wondering what was going to happen and was so mad that Obama was so quiet about it. Then when I heard about the rescue I thought I am giving Obama his due and saying thank you. To bad the pirates are mad, but as I listened yesterday that a spokeperson on NPR thought we were wrong to shoot them and should just pay them. I thought it was funny that they did not agree with there man. They will turn on a dime so he better be careful. I agree that he will do nothing else but I am giving credit where it is due.

    • USWeapon says:

      I am glad to see that you were able to catch the article. I thought you might be happy to see the return of pirates to the blog. Not Johnny Depp, but interesting none-the-less. And now it is no longer a theoretical discussion. The Us is involved politicly and militarily.

  6. TruthSeeker says:

    Ron, whos is going to pay for that escort? It is not free and you are taking the security away from other events.

    Tax paying money should not pay for safety of good transportation. I have no issue if a company pays a private security team to escort goods in certain areas. Do not use the military if you are unwilling to kill the root problem.

    • We Americans have to decide who is going to pay for the escort service.The monetary end of it.The Somali pirates are going to decide who pays for a lack of escort service.

      In the long haul it is probably cheaper to have a few Americans seamen killed.I hardly think that would be acceptable.

      We can,as I said,blow hell out of the Somali coastline,we certainly have the capability.What’s the cost of that to the taxpayer?

    • The escort service is already in place and functioning. At present, there are US Ships engaged in this task, and they were doing this duty before the Maersk incident.
      Task Force 150, as well as Operation Atalanta are naval operations currently involved in Somali anti-piracy operations. On 4 January 2008 ships of the task force (TF150) began performing Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) missions, boarding fishing boats (dhows) and oil tankers passing near the Somali coast. US ships of Combined Task Force 150 include the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ramage and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Bunker Hill. That information may be dated because US ships of TF150 are part of the 5th Fleet, Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. Ships can be relieved of their duty by others.

  7. Somali Ali and his band a merry pirates have been quite the annoyance as of late. I’ve taken some time to think this through, and I would not put our troops on the ground in Somalia. That would be a tactical mistake and put not only our troops in harms way, but innocent civilians as well. Piracy is a crime, not an act of war. I laughed MAO when the first report said that O’Prompter “personnally approved the rescue”, well, whoopdy f$#@#ing do! There are hostage situations in the U.S. everyday, so I don’t take much stock in giving any credit, except for the Navy Seals for gettin it done.

    Her’s what I would do. I’d put 6 marines, well armed on ships that are U.S. flagged, added with satellite jamming equipment, wait till they get next to the ship, jam their phone, and turn them into shark food. No witnesses, no phone calls, no media, just well fed sharks. Do with with other countries ships as well, and eventually, Somali Ali has no merry pirates to commit these crimes. This whole idea would give our troops a huge tactical advantage, as well as the surprise factor.

    I can think of a few places to lower our nuke supply as well, but I’d hate to have to listen to the whackball environmentalists crying the blues!



    • G-Man

      Agree, I had thought about putting a squad on all US flagged ships as well.
      There is a question of cost, and how to implement. Do we require them to take on soldiers, or offer it?
      I think the insurance and economic angle needs attention as well. Why do their rates jump so much for being armed? Can we pass a US law that would allow defensive, anti-pirate type weapons?
      Any of that would have to be cheaper than all the ships deployed to combat these pirates. And our blue water navy is ill suited for that job. It would be better to anchor an ocean going barge as a base, and crew it with small, fast craft. Will post other thought later, think most will like, except flag.

      • esomhillgazette says:

        Judging by the comments of US on International Laws, I would say that the Insurance rate jump is probably caused by the fact that the shipping company can be sued. You know what I mean, for depriving those poor innocent Bucaneers of making their dishonest living?! LOL But I do like your idea G!

    • The major strategic concern for the USA is oil. Oil tankers transit through this area while carrying oil from the Mid-East to the USA. Placing armed soldiers on an oil tanker is very foolish. Just one RPG would destroy the ship and crew, not to mention the environmental impact. And if the ship was a natural gas tanker? That would go up like mini-nuke if hit.
      I don’t think this concept was well thought out.
      And if you place mercenaries on board, they are only loyal to the almight dollar, and all the pirates would have to do is offer them a very large pile of cash. They would not even have to board the ship, because the mercenaries would take control for them.

  8. Here’s my question: Why leave the fourth one alive? I spoke with my nephew on his return from Iraq last month. He said the prevailing thought over there was, if you take no “enemy combatants” hostage, there would be no question of Gitmo, enemies rights, etc. This is a US Navy ship, can’t we go to Captains Mast?

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      Sure we can – then we sink to their level.

      • You know I am really sick of this arguement, “we can’t sink to their level”. Now, I admit I don’t understand the particulars of the pirate situation (see below post) but I do know a thing or two about learning. You don’t teach a puppy not to chew on the coffee table by taking away their toys or telling them to write “I will not eat the coffee table” a hundred times on the chalkboard. They don’t understand. You have to “sink to their level” to teach what is and is not acceptable behavior.
        Same goes for violent bullies. They hit you and you hit back harder, period. I really don’t get why we as a country or as an individual have to put up with unacceptable behavior just so we can say we are “above it”.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          So – the 4th pirate surrenders and we just shoot him eh? To hell with our Judeo-Christian values you all just spent countless days pontificating about? Do you think those opposing forces have anything to do with why people don’t like us? What is the 4th pirate was a 6 year old instead of a 14 yr old (or however old he was) – do you still “shoot” him? “Ooopsie! My trigger finger slipped!” We’re not putting up with unacceptable behavior, we are dealing with it in a way consistent with our values.

          • Ray, I apologize because I did not express myself very well in my post. Try this: If I were a soldier in Iraq, and I knew that anyone I take hostage who has been firing at me, will be released into American society (as SOME of those in Gitmo may) or released back to the counrty to fire on me again, would I not be justified in making sure they did not have that opportunity?
            In polite society, this would not even be an issue, due process and turn the other cheek. However, war is hell. Some of the reasons I opposed putting troops on the ground in Iraq: No American life is worth what we could achieve and we, as a country, do not have the “viciousness” (for lack of a better term) to conduct the war to win. If you are going to go, you better go all in. I don’t mean repeating the fire-bombing of civilian centers, but on the battle field it must be “no quarter asked, no quarter given”. Play by their rules, not ours.

            • Ray Hawkins says:

              From a military perspective I do not know the answer to whether or not you would be justified. My initial reaction is not only no but hell no. From a non-military perspective the very notion that you have to ask that question is deeply troubling to me. This isn’t a Clint Eastwood or John Rambo movie sequence – so the verbal ejaculate does nothing for the logic (or lack thereof) in the argument.

              Lastly – I’m not sure how, in the field you would presume a potential POW (not a hostage btw) will be released into American society based upon a future action (specific to Gitmo mind you) that may happen. You conclusion thus is logically invalid and therefore rejected.

          • Another analysis: anyone who has taken a self defense course will tell you that, if you are in a situation where you MUST use your weapon, you do not shoot to wound, you shoot to kill. If the death of your attacker is not warranted, then you have NO reason to pull your weapon.

            • Ray Hawkins says:

              That is not accurate either – I train in civilian krav maga and have trained with instructors that teach police and military versions. We are taught to neutralize the threat which does not mean killing the opponent, be it by my hands or a gun.

              • Ah, perhaps I should have narrowed my field to generic pistol defense courses, I am really not on my game today. I will give this some thought and get back to you.
                How do you like krav maga? From what I have heard it is a devastating form of defense, but I don’t know much about it. Any good links?

              • Ray Hawkins says:

                Sorry – I am being chippy today. Krav is amazing – I study this as well as Tae Kwon Do (for different reasons). Start here:

            • C.Z.

              Having cop friends, they do not shot to injure. Even with laser sights available.
              Every police officer in the US is trained to shoot center mass, and that is the policy in every department.

              • Ray Hawkins says:

                Are they instructed to shoot to kill in every situation? I don’t know and am just asking.

              • They are instructed to shoot center of mass, which is usually fatal.
                This starts with FBI training, which is the US standard. An unspoken result of this policy, dead men do not testify.
                And this is not likely to change with how the law works. Think about those two border patrol agents imprisoned for shooting an armed, illegal, drug dealer.

        • esomhillgazette says:

          Azgrl, My answer to your question would be to refer you to the WW2 battles in The Pacific Theater.

          Most of the time, the Marines did NOT take prisoners. They were offered incentives to bring in some, but met with little success. Early on, Marines learned about the tricks the Japanese would pull when “surrendering”. Also learned what they did to POWs in their custody. Thus, no prisoners.

          Sinking to their level was not a consideration of the Marines on the ground. The decision to always accept POW’s was made at the levels of command that did not see actual fighting.

          Just a tidbit of history. Not applicable to this situation. Just saying that there have been times that we HAVE “Sank to Their Level”.

    • My understanding is this fourth pirate was injured and surrendered and tried to talk the others into surrendering also, before the final event took place.

      • That would certainly change the parameters of my argument. If he surrendered prior to action, then he should be given quarter, and tried as a pirate.

    • Are you proposing murder?

  9. I have been very curious about this problem. Personally, I was very surprised that something wasn’t done about the situation after that Russian tanker (with the tanks ect) was taken. Obviously, there is a piece of the rules that I do not understand. Admiting that I am very ignorant on this subject I must ask, what exactly are the laws governing weapons in international waters?

  10. CWO2USNRet says:

    US Wep,

    You said: “When trained these crews are told that if they discharge a weapon they are not protected by America and will be subject to prosecution in the country of jurisdiction. ”

    Not so sure about this one. The country of jurisdiction would be USA for an American flagged ship in international waters. The crew would be well within their rights to protect themselves. In a ship at sea the Captain is the sole decision maker, judge, and jury. In the case of armed invaders boarding his ship without his permission he is authorized to use any reasonable means at his disposal to protect his ship and crew without fear of prosecution. No US Attorny would prosecute a Captain for protecting his ship and crew from a pirate attack.

    • Richmond Spitfire says:

      CWO2USNRet said:

      No US Attorney would prosecute a Captain for protecting his ship and crew from a pirate attack.

      Ahh….but we have the Great Eric Holder now! The one who calls the American people “cowards” for not hanging out with others of different races/cultures on the weekends or outside of work. Who in the heck would have EVER thought that an elected official would say something so stooopid!

      • CWO2USNRet says:

        I’m certainly no fan of Holder but to even suggest a prosecution in these circumstances would be political suicide.

      • CWO2USNRet says:

        Besides, there would be no crime to prosecute. Maritime law is pretty clear on this.

  11. It’s funny how the American public drives political initiatives. Until now, there hasn’t been any US entanglements concerning the condition of Somalia. So Somalia has been ignored, and the country has deteriorated into total chaos. And it’s not that this situation should come as any kind of surprise. This scenario has been developing for many years, and it is a known fact that the coast of Somalia is the highest risk for piracy. But an American finally gets taken hostage, and all of a sudden everyone has an opinion and solution. How come only now have the USA been galvanized into action?
    The blatant practice of slavery in the Sudan, the total ruin of Somalia, if the USA is such a world policeman, how come this kind of stuff is being ignored? The sad truth is that the USA does nothing to address issues only until it directly impacts them. And then, many who know little are quick to rush to judgement and demand action.
    The US public watches nice little television ads that portray the military as giving a helping hand around the world. But the world watches the US ignore just about all the problems not directly related to them, and form their own opinion. So just maybe the opinion of the US public is at odds with the reality of the situation.
    For those bent on criticising Obama regardless of the situation, shame on you. You always cried about his lack of leadership. yet he makes the correct decision in this case, and you still want to find fault. You’re absolutely hopeless.
    And for those who easily trash the French, funny how they had to deal with a similar situation, and resolved it in a proper manner. This time, they did the right thing and beat you to it. Hard to criticise someone who beats you across the finish line.
    So there’s a problem with Somalia. Nothing new. So just who are these pirates? Destitute and poor beyond belief. Starvation and poverty face them, and the only opportunity to escape this fate is by piracy. So that’s why you see children involved in this criminal act. Give a kid an AK-47 and he’s part of the gang. Sort of like what happens in LA, except the kids are barefoot.
    The people who control these pirates are sophisticated and have built an infrastructure for piracy. They now have it down to a science. They pick out their prey, stalk them, take the ship hostage, sail to Somalia waters, negotiate a ransom, payday, and the day is over.
    I do agree that force is the only way to deal with them. But force will only slow them down, because there are millions of poor kids in Somalia, and the real organizers behind this piracy will just keep sending out their boats and pirates. But these same organizers are the same kind people who controlled Somalia back in 1992 and 1993. Back then force did not resolve the problem. What makes you think that killing kids at sea will do anything but provide fish food?
    I do agree that the only way to deal with such acts is by killing the guilty. But that is just a band-aid solution, and does not address the real issues driving these people into such activities.

    • DaveE: I disagree that we only get involved when it involves our citizenry; we give millions and millions of dollars to foreign countries and I’m guessing Somalia is on that list of recipients right now.

      I’m not sure I understand your complaint on America. We should’ve been involved in this pirate issue before even though a US flagged ship was not involved?

      As far as credit to Obama, my understanding is that this was a hostage situation, where his authority was not needed and his “approval” was to only go after the pirates if the Captains life was in imminent danger. I am impressed that he didn’t want to seek out a UN resolution on the matter, though.

      • On December 17, 2008, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1851 which takes current anti-piracy measures a step further.

        This is my beef. In no way do I consider you stupid or ignorant. But this piracy stuff, and international measures to combat it have been in place for awhile. Yet the great majority of posters in here are totally unaware of such happenings. How come most are not up to speed on information on this subject? That’s my beef. Not casting your gaze beyond your little patch of land to observe what’s happening elsewhere. Sure, you have the right to focus on your nation and devote most of your attention to domestic issues. But how on earth can you make any kind of informed and intelligent decision on anything international when a lack of knowledge is obvious?

        • Dave . . . If you haven’t figured it out by now, the U.N. is a totally useless and impotent organization that is in itself so corrupt that no entity here on Earth could ever trust it. This was proven in Korea, Viet Nam, and every other thing that the U.N. has stuck its limp fingers into!

          UNR1851 has no teeth!

          • esomhillgazette says:

            G.A, Howdy Compadre! I got here late, as you can see, I started to respond to Dave, but you beat me to it. That would have been my response also. (See post of a couple of 3 days ago) For future reference: POWDER BLUE HELMETS!

        • So how’s that UN Resolution been working so far?

          I ask again, what would you have us do prior to this latest incident? I’m sure all of us here on the blog have known about the pirate problems and aren’t now just trying to catch up. I get confused though, when sometimes we (US) are at fault for being involved when we shouldn’t and now your take that we should’ve been involved previous to this first US flagged ship.

    • Why do some feel that the U.S. have to save the world. We have a homeless problem HERE. We have a hunger problem HERE. We have neighborhoods that are unsafe to walk in, day or night, HERE. While our government sent billions in aid and food (which is what this ship was delivering) to those in need. We seem to always be first when disaster strikes, even in countries that hate us. When Iran had those bad earthquakes, we had U.S. citizens, on the ground in Iran within days providing medical care. I know many of them personnally.

      Just like when starvation continues to strike countries like Ethiopia, which has been a problem since I was a kid, why do the bleeding hearts of this country keep saying we need to help? WE don’t need to help, THEY need to move out of the damn desert! I know it sounds coldhearted, but we can’t even take care of our own injured vets in many cases. These people in these out of control countries need to fix their own problems, it’s not our job. Our job is to protect our own.

      As far as Bo “personnally approving” this mission, good for him, thats his job to direct the military. Donald Duck could have made that call.



      • Fair enough, your argument makes sense. But you can either ignore wrongs in the world that do not directly apply to you, or you deal with them as they arise. But if you chose the former, then the USA does not posess the rationale to proclaim that they are the nice guys helping the world.

        • I’m not too sure the USA is considered the nice guys helping the world, by the world. When problems effect our country or citizens, they must be addressed, by whatever means necessary. The USA cannot just enter a country with political problems, or anyother type problem, whenever we see fit. If a country is a direct threat to our national security, attacked or otherwise threaten to attack, then it should be asswhoopin time. Beyond that shouldn’t we respect their borders as we would expect them to respect ours? Many countries have a very different way of life than ours, I can’t judge them based on my beliefs, but must let them succeed or fail, based on their beliefs.

    • The US cannot be everywhere for everone. The fact that this just bubbled up is why it is garnering attention now. I have not really seen much bashing of President Obama in this thread, he deserves Kudos for doing the right thing…it is notable that this has not occurred for quite some time (capturing by pirates of a US vessel). And we have been to Somalia before…ask former President Clinton…

      • Just bubbled up? With all due respect, Somali piracy operations began in the early 1990’s. In 2005 it passed the threshold and became a very serious maritime issue. In 2008, pirates seized 42 vessels, since January, pirates have staged 66 attacks, and they are still holding 14 ships and 260 crew members as hostages.

        • By just bubbled up, I mean relative to the US…they have not pirated a US vessel until now. I have no idea if it was purposely avoiding US flagged ships or if this was simply their first opportunity.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      “So just who are these pirates? Destitute and poor beyond belief. Starvation and poverty face them, and the only opportunity to escape this fate is by piracy. So that’s why you see children involved in this criminal act. Give a kid an AK-47 and he’s part of the gang. Sort of like what happens in LA, except the kids are barefoot.”

      And this is the fault of the US HOW??? We give countries like Somalia millions of dollars every year, which is then completely wasted by the warlord or warlords that control countries like this. They hoard this wealth and don’t do anything to improve their countries whatsoever. The people of these countries would be in the exact same situation whether the US gave these countries money or not, because none of the money ever goes to agriculture, infrastructure, or anything else that the poor in these countries actually need.

      The US does our part, it is the leaders of these poor nations who FAIL ABJECTLY.

      You obviously are one of those people that blames the US for everything, when in reality we do our best to help these people and they choose not to help themselves.

      Sounds like that kid in LA too, except the kid in LA has a pair of Air Jordans that the government paid for instead of having to go barefoot.

    • “But these same organizers are the same kind people who controlled Somalia back in 1992 and 1993. Back then force did not resolve the problem. What makes you think that killing kids at sea will do anything but provide fish food?”

      You call what we did back then use of force? Pres C would not even let the troops use the tanks and APC’s that were available to them for their mission. If we had used all the tools available duing that mission it would have turned out different. When we did show up with an aircraft carrier and told them to give us back our pilot or we would waste them they did. After things got tough slick Willy cut and ran on that deal.

      • Well said Bama, thank you. October, 1993 did not have to end up the way it did. It was ugly and brutal and Clinton and the Sec. of Defense denied support that would have saved lives. We lost 18, they lost over 2,000.

    • DaveE,

      The poverty in Somalia has been brought you, and them, by the Religion of Peace. Do some homework.

  12. Richmond Spitfire says:

    Let’s face it…NO ONE likes to be blackmailed. I believe the rest of the world is looking to the US to take a lead on this. Other countries are too namby pamby to accept any fall-out if something goes bad. (Gasp!…my arrogance is showing here…more proof for BO to talk badly about me.)

    Wasn’t the Maersk Alabama transporting aid to Somalia? I would think that most “normal” Somalians would want this blimey scurge taken out so that they could receive their desperately needed aid. I have read that the Somalians in the Pirate “Cove” towns are reaping benefits from the pirates spending the money that they have stolen and those Somalian citizens are happy with that — talk about “Thick as Thieves”.

    Didn’t I read somewhere that the Somalian government has tried (to no success) take care of this problem — or are they simply pandering that about? Are the Pirates paying ‘tributes’ to corrupt Somalian officials.

    Let loose the “Eagle” and be done with it. Is it possible that Al Qeda has their hand in this – give the US a problem to deal with elsewhere to divert us while doing something even more devious here or there.

    G-Man’s suggestion of a small group of troops on each ship does indeed have merit. I am by no means a military strategist…whatever the case, action MUST be taken to eradicate this scum!

    Regards to all,

    • Wow you guys need to be brought up to speed, and quickly. For starters, here’s a broad overview of the current situation, describing who and what are currently involved.
      Please read it, you need to know what’s the situation.

      This piracy sitiation has been developing since the early 1990’s, and in 2005 the situation deteriorated so much action had to be taken. So now it’s four years later and you guys are just starting to become aware? Please pull your heads out of the sand and look around.

      Oh, and by the way, since the Maersk Alabama was pirated, four other ships have been captured by pirates.

      • Pirating is a civil crime, not a military action. If the companies that own these shipd fail to properly protect themselves, then they, knowing the danger, will suffer for their failure to do so. If I own a ship going down there, there will be some major firepower onboard to protect my crew, myself, and my cargo. Shame on these companies for playing this sissy game because of insurance issues.

      • Black Flag says:

        Actually, piracy is an international crime under the “Law of Nations” and considered by sovereign states to be hostis humani generis (enemies of humanity)…a term first used by the Roman Empire.

        In the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, “maritime piracy” consists of:

        (a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

        (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
        (ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

        (b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
        (c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).[77]

        The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) defines piracy as:

        the act of boarding any vessel with an intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act.[78]

        Under the US Code
        TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 81 > § 1651

        § 1651. Piracy under law of nations

        Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life.

        And further, criminal prosecution of piracy is authorized in the U.S. Constitution, Art. I Sec. 8 cl. 10:

        The Congress shall have Power … To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

        … so it is not a civil matter, but a criminal matter both in the USA and International Law.

        • Black Flag says:

          But of course, sovereign nations can do everything the pirates can – but because it is ‘legal’, they aren’t pirates.

          St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, “How dare you molest the seas?” To which the pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor.”

    • USWeapon says:


      The aid was actually bound for Kenya.

      • Richmond Spitfire says:

        Thanks for the clarification US Weapon.

      • Maersk Line is a division of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group.

        Corporate headquarters:
        Esplanaden 50
        1098 Copenhagen K
        Phone: +45 3363 3363
        Fax: +45 3363 4108
        Maersk Line’s CVR number: 22 75 62 14

        Maersk Alabama, a 1,100 TEU container vessel, has a crew of 20 US nationals. Maersk Alabama is deployed in Maersk Line’s East Africa service network and was enroute to Mombasa, when it was attacked approximately 500 kilometres of the Somalia coast.
        Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain said the Maersk Alabama was carrying “general cargo,” most likely including aid supplies to East Africa.” The Alabama was carrying 17 thousand tons of containers.
        “General cargo”, that’s what she was carrying, and it is assumed that aid supplies may be part of that cargo. So the story that she was delivering aid supplies is quite a bit of disinformation. She MAY HAVE, but it’s all speculation without any basis for fact.

  13. Black Flag says:

    As with almost all things, few actually understand why piracy is rampant in the region – and thus leap right into clubbing everything in sight to stop it, and therefore will only make it worse …and missing the way to stop it.

    Somalians don’t engage in piracy because it happened to be ‘cool’.

    They are fishermen.

    The world powers, primarily China, India and Italy have invaded the seas around Somalia with massive fishing boats and decimated the stocks – preventing the poorer Somalians from finding fish to feed themselves.

    Further, a world power has found this to be convenient place to dump nuclear waste – polluting the Somalian coastline.

    They turned to piracy. And why not? If the world powers deem themselves the right to do what the please in and around Somalia, Somalians will extract a fee for it. Albeit a rather violent means, but … hey! Fair is fair.

    Men do not take up arms upon other men for no reason.

    Men do not take up arms upon other men who are far better armed, shipped, fed, supplied, have nuclear air craft carriers, and nuclear weapons for no reason.

    When the world power respect the Somalians and leave Somalia alone, they will leave the world alone.

    • I agree that the coastine of Somalia is a toxic wasteland, with tons of nuclear and toxic waste that was dumped there. And the local fishermen have seen their stock disappear because ships of other nations have gone in and harvested the fish ruthlessly. So the argument that they are protecting themselves hold up, so far. But the people who started out by protecting their fishing areas have now gone abroad, many miles from their home villages, to engage in piracy. And because a great volume of ships pass through this zone because of the Suez Canal, this has gone from a nuisance to a real threat to international shipping.
      And I believe that the only message the pirates should receive is that if they try it, expect do die at sea.

      • Black Flag says:

        So, what do you suggest the Somalians do?

        Crawl into a cave, roll up into a ball, and die?

        • If the question is rephrased as do what you said or take to the high seas and start hijacking merchant vessels, then yes, they should start looking for caves.

        • Black Flag says:

          And, what other recourse, USWep?

          Nations steal their food, and your answer is to ‘suck it up and take it?’

        • USWeapon says:

          Perhaps they shouldn’t have started shooting the soldiers that were delivering and protecting their food in ’93.

          Or they could fight back and start shooting the warlords that are the true perpetrators of the theft of their food.

          You hold a very biased position that the world is the cause. You justify the very evil that you spend so much time railing against. So violence is OK unless and American does it? Or just OK because outside forces caused the need for it?

          So if government here makes things difficult for me, I am justified in taking from you? You’ll be cool with it, right?

          • Black Flag says:

            First, the food was not being delivered to the PEOPLE but to the hated ‘official government’ – as usual, the US picks the government over the people.

            The government was allocating the food on the basis of cronyism.

            The consequence, of course, was to wipe out the economic viability of food supply in Somalia. The Somalia farmers could not compete with the free food of the US – and further drove Somalia into economic turmoil.

            It can only be expected that with ignorance of US intervention could only spur violence.

            Violence is not ok – and neither is interference.

            The continuing machinations of US policy creates long term, violent consequences – which is the goal.

            A global cop needs to justify his job.

            • Hey, I’m with you, leave them all to their own devices. If they don’t tread on me, then never will our paths cross…I would be totally fine with that.

            • Bama Dad says:

              Hold the phone. In 1993 food was being handed out to the people not the government by the US and the world. It was the warlords who was stealing it from the starving people. There was no government during this period.

            • Bama Dad says:

              First, the food was not being delivered to the PEOPLE but to the hated ‘official government’ – as usual, the US picks the government over the people.

              In 1993 there was no government. Food was given to the starving people and the warlords stole it. Many other nations besides the US were involved with the relief effort.

    • I have to agree that bad things have been done in and around Somalia. That being said I don’t think that if the world left them alone they would leave us alone. That country (if you can call it that) has been a sewer trap for the last 20 years. It would be great if they would leave the world alone and go back to just killing and robbing themselves. I know I will regret saying this but gee BF is not that the kind of government you like? You know anarchy.

      • Black Flag says:

        First, even if that is what they want to do, leave them alone to rob each other. What business is it of yours (ie: USA)?

        Second, that is not what they did. After their government collapsed, the country fell into anarchy – and SURPRISE the country got better.

        With government, they had no water, very little food, and nearly zero telecommunications.

        With anarchy, Somalia had the most abundant and cheapest water delivered in Africa, the cheapest food in Africa, and the cheapest long distance telecommunication rates in the world.

        But then the US attacked, then the Ethiopians, and now, probably more US attacks.

        Can’t have anarchy, ya know! It may embarrass the world.

        • One of the reasons I like the site is that I have learned so much from everyone on it. Not being the brightest bulb on the tree I can stand a little learning. So please do tell how the country/people got better. Was it when the drug lords carved out their little kingdoms the mere masses got paid with a better drug than the rest. Maybe it was if you belong to a bigger gang than the one down the street you got cheaper water, food and long distance service because our gang could steal more of it than others. The only thing I know that got cheaper over there was human life.

          • Black Flag says:


            Despite civil unrest, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, based mainly on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications

            As of January 2007, Somalia is still a fragile state with hundreds of thousands of refugees due to massive floods and the latest fighting of the civil war. However, when extreme poverty (percentage of individuals living on less than PPP$1 a day) was last measured by the World Bank in 1998, Somalia fared better than many other countries in Africa, over some of whom Somalia also had superior infrastructure

            In the absence of a Somali state and its institutions, the private sector grew “impressively” according to the World Bank in 2003, particularly in the areas of trade, commerce, transport, remittance and infrastructure services and in the primary sectors, notably in livestock, agriculture and fisheries.[4] In 2007, the United Nations reported that the country’s service industry is also thriving.[5] However with a GDP of $600 per capita the country is still relatively poor.

            • So, if Somalia is prospering, according to Wikipedia, why do they ‘need’ to pirate? Lots of people around the world are “still relatively poor”. Where are the reports of their piracy? I’m just saying…..

          • Black Flag says:

            Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia’s service sector has managed to survive and grow… Mogadishu’s main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security.
            —CIA Factbook

            Love that…”Despite anarchy”…

            No, because of anarchy

            What devastated Somalia was the overt and corrupt government – it had placed 100% tax on commodities and an astounding 500% on telecommunications.

            “the government post and telecoms company used to have a monopoly but after the regime was toppled, we were free to set up our own business”

            The owner of Daallo Airlines says, “Sometimes it’s difficult without a government and sometimes it’s a plus,” but “Corruption is not a problem, because there is no government.”

            Real growth in 2005 was projected at 2.4%, and 2.8% in 2008.… the USA could only dream of this type of growth….

        • Leave it to you to try to make anarchy sound like it is doing good things in Somalia. That is utterly ridiculous. Have you been to Somalia? I have. I don’t assume you haven’t, but any time spent in that country will show you quite quickly that the anarchy that is, in fact, present there is in now way, shape, or form, a good thing.

          • Black Flag says:

            It is a mess – I agree.

            It was a terrible mess because of the government.

            It was getting better without it.

            The US mission there was to make it a mess again.

            They succeeded.

            I’m sorry that you had to be a part of that – you didn’t deserve that.

  14. BF: Thank you, as you just saved me adding a comment. I had forgotten about the nuclear waste issue and might have ommitted it.

    I understand the waste goes beyond nuclear and includes some very nasty chemicals as well. Your info confirm or deny?


  15. To the Shores of Tripoli

    Shortly after gaining independence, American merchant ships were attacked by pirates or terrorists on the Barbary coast. They had no regard for human life, enslaving or trading their captives for the most profit. The European powers were left in peace, having arranged tribute terms in the years before.

    In 1801, Jefferson sent a fleet to force the release of some 120 American sailors being held for ransom. After a couple years fighting, it was a stalemate. The US forces inflicted heavy losses on the pirates, but could not take their fort and the city of Tripoli. Eight marines led 600 foreign troops across 500 miles of desert to take the city of Derne, which became the first foreign land where an American flag was raised. This was to be a base to set up a land campaign. A ransom was negotiated before US forces could complete their campaign.

    Attacks continued until 1815, when Madison’s retaliation fleet broke the Barbary pirates for good.

    Similarities to today?

    A world that would rather pay ransom or tribute, than meet force with force.
    A Muslim faction with no regard for human life.
    A coastal base making deep water warships ineffective and infused with non-combatants, making bombardment prohibitive in “innocent” lives.

  16. Black Flag says:

    “Undeterred by American and French hostage rescues that killed five bandits, Somali pirates brazenly hijacked four more ships in the Gulf of Aden, the waterway at the centre of the world’s fight against piracy. ”

    Seems threats of US attacks have no effect – as usual.

    • BF, Thanks for that clarification on the cause and effect. If history is to repeat itself, is military action next? There must be a solution to all this. What’s your take on the future of this issue.

    • Black Flag says:

      Here is a great place for the UN.

      Organize the Security Council to resolve to no interference of the territory of Somalia and respect the seas and coasts of Somalia to be free from foreign intrusion of all nations.

      …nah, it would never happen…

    • I think we should give it time, and give a few more lessons. Once they get the idea we mean business and that they are out gunned, they’ll change their ways. But don’t worry, we don’t mean business and they know it. That’s why they’ve taken more ships.

  17. Just a couple of thoughts because I don’t have time at the moment to go back and reply to everyone.

    To those who have attacked my “position” on the matter. To be fair, I didn’t put one forth. I admitted my bias against Somalia and stated: “I also know that because of the personal nature of it for me, I hold a bias against Somalia and would level the country for spitting oddly. And because it is personal I am going to reserve my opinion for now and let everyone else have their say.”

    I tire of the constant arguments that everything is someone else’s fault. Somalia was reated badly and we left them no choice but to become criminals? Bullcrap. There is always a choice. The country is a haven for lawlessness, where the rule of mob is powerful. The country is a prime example of exactly why BlackFlag’s notion of no government and anarchy is ridiculous and irresponsible. Interesting that in the anarchy that he prefers, even BF can justify illegal and therefore “evil” activity.

    Of course any flaw in Somalia will simply be blamed on the fact that there is not a “true free market anarchy” that left unchecked would correct itself and turn into utopia.

    I saw many different possible courses of action listed, but I was surprised to find one option not mentioned by anyone. We could go in, offer increased financial support, help fix the country, and under the theory of those who think “we” caused this, eliminate the need for the poor pirates to resort to this. That is the liberal position I expected to hear, but haven’t so I am surprised.

    When I can I will answer comments above.

    • U.S.,I weighed the possibility of going in and rebuilding the country and rejected it.I just didn’t feel we would succeed.Don’t have any reason,just a gut feeling.

    • Black Flag says:


      The country is a prime example of exactly why BlackFlag’s notion of no government and anarchy is ridiculous and irresponsible. Interesting that in the anarchy that he prefers, even BF can justify illegal and therefore “evil” activity.

      Of course the complete mind-block of the history of Somalia helps any argument.

      Of course any flaw in Somalia will simply be blamed on the fact that there is not a “true free market anarchy” that left unchecked would correct itself and turn into utopia.

      After the fall of government, Somalia raised itself from the worst country in the world to the 5th worst – and progressing, until it was whacked back to the worst by the USA and other.

      We could go in, offer increased financial support,

      The PEOPLE do not want it. The money will only go to the criminals in their country called the ‘offical government’ – which they have overthrown, now, three times.

      Keep your money, USWep.

      help fix the country,

      The PEOPLE there see nothing needing to be fixed by any foreigners.

      • USWeapon says:


        I only have one question, and it is an honest question that I assume you will answer without bias. You said “After the fall of government, Somalia raised itself from the worst country in the world to the 5th worst – and progressing, until it was whacked back to the worst by the USA and other.”

        Did they really rise to 5th worst (which isn’t much of an accomplishment), or did other countries just continue to devolve and simply staying the same meant that Somalia moved up in rankings. Kind of like an idle team moving up in the polls because those above them lost? As previously stated, I am not a Somalia fan, so I won’t pretend otherwise, but it was a pretty bad place. I do appreciate your comment about my being there.

        • Black Flag says:

          It is an incredible accomplishment, given the state from which they started.

          As the quotes I gave below – they gained a significant economic boost by being released from government – the economy bounced up, unburdened by the corruption and graft.

          Imagine the US economy suddenly getting an 600% boost (85% of the economy is consumed by the government) with the loss of the government!

          And we think a growth of 3% is a boom-time!

          The tribal leaders even evolved a way to deal with each other on criminal matters between tribes.

          The age-old question of how does one prosecute a criminal from another tribe, without starting a war….

          …the Tribal leaders found that working economically between themselves was very profitable; so to prevent large tribal warfare over revenge, each tribal leader gave an amount of money based on the size of the tribe to an honest third party. If a crime was committed across tribal lines, the harmed tribe received a large cash payment from the harming tribe – if the other tribe reneged, the funds came out of the communal cash, and the rest of the tribes denounced the outlaw tribe, and ostracized them from all economic dealings.

          Quickly, the tribes placed large consequences upon their own members regarding inter-tribe violence and crime. Literally, overnight, inter-tribe violence dissipated to a insignificant level.

          • RWBoveroux says:

            Hey BF,

            What about INTRA-tribe violence??

          • BF:

            “If a crime was committed across tribal lines, the harmed tribe received a large cash payment from the harming tribe – if the other tribe reneged, the funds came out of the communal cash, and the rest of the tribes denounced the outlaw tribe, and ostracized them from all economic dealings. ”

            This sure looks like the primordial ooz of a government crawling out of the swamp to me.

            Looks like your fingers may be sore this PM. Did you have fun today while I was gone?
            See you tomorrow, I’m on PST where it is still today.

    • Actually, I figure that’s what this Adm. will do and have been surprised we’ve not already heard that SofS will be visiting with the first suitcase of money, along with our apologies.

      The pattern from Washington has been to throw good money into bad situations and hope it works. I don’t expect Somalia will be any different.

  18. Disgusted in Cali says:

    First, we should always protect what is ours by force if neccesary

    Second, if other countries would stand up to the pirates instead of bowing to their demands of ransom, there would be no reason to hold anything captive

    Third, if a country wants help I have no problem with doing so, but it is up to them to ask for it. We should not assume since a country is not ran like ours it is “bad” and needs our help to fix them

    That being said, I feel we should make it very well known that we WILL protect our ships by force. Place well trained Marines on them but only if the owners of the ships want us to. If they don’t, then its on them and whatever happens is on their heads. We wouldn’t need to put Marines on all ships all the time. Change up which ships they are on occasionally so the pirates don’t know which ones are armed and which ones aren’t that way they couldn’t tell the “easy targets” from the “Not so easy targets”. They will soon get frustrated and avoid our ships all together.

    • Black Flag says:

      Not at all, DiC.

      The point is to increase the cost of shipping through the region.

      Lloyd’s has added a massive surcharge on all shipping transiting the region.

      Adding military guards on these ships will add millions of dollars to the costs. Do you have an idea of how much shipping transits that region??

      The asymmetry of action favors the pirates. US doctrine has already established that 1 American life is worth 100 of theirs. They only need a kill rate of 50 to 1 to severely impact US psychology.

      USWep was right. US lost 18, and killed around 2000 – and the US bailed. It was too close a kill rate to the doctrine to risk any more US lives.

      • Black Flag says:

        Further, every tactical advantage is theirs.

        Whereas you have to guard, they chose the target. If it resists, they can retreat – the ship that is under attack has a primary purpose of shipping not fighting. The pirate retreat will most likely not be followed.

        The pirates know their sea. Typically, the ship crews under attack do not – on average, they may have transited the area twice.

        The pirates are incredibly well armed. It would take a significant military force on board to repel their attack. Given the increase in military force by nations, I expect the pirates to also increase their armaments – typical escalation.

        The reason the ransoms were paid was to avoid the escalation. It was far cheaper to pay then beef up the arms on board and risk loss of cargo and crew.

        But, now government is involved. They can’t have competition, especially with the mass-moronic public demanding revenge.

        Be prepared for serious naval losses in shipping – and a very large increase in the prices you will be paying for nearly everything.

        • BF, I made an earlier post about ship security. If, our military was placed on board, with the right firepower, the tactical advantage would be against the smaller pirate boats, rather than on their side. Our troops will be at a much higher level, shooting down, with ample cover. A single 20mm chain gun would end any attack in short order. As far as it being their sea, seems to me it’s just as wet and deep as any other sea, and these ship captains know what their doing.


          • Black Flag says:

            Except, you forget these guys can carry rocket launchers themselves, and their own heavy arms.

            They have tactical advantage of choice, surprise and withdrawal vs. US firepower.

            Yes, they may lose a few.

            They only need one big win.

        • Bama dad says:

          The pirates are incredibly well armed

          At present they are not that well armed. AK-47 and RPG’s are the most common weapons they carry. I know at close range an RPG can ruin your day, so if you choose to defend a ship you need to project power out beyond it’s range(chain gun would do that very well). I have not seen any reports or pictures of them mounting any heavy machine guns or long range weapons on the fast boats they use. Anyone have a source that shows different?

          • Black Flag says:

            You are correct – they didn’t have to.

            Their goal was not to sink ships, or kill crew. It was to take ransom money and perhaps cargo.

            The threat of the US will change the game, and not in the favor of the US and allies.

            It will remain to be seen if Obama orders reprisals. If he does not, not much will change there.

            If he does, expect sinkings and mass murder.

  19. Black Flag says:

    The relatively stable value of the currency in the 1990s compared to the 1980s is explained by Peter D. Little in Somalia: Economy without a State as resulting from the lack of a corrupt central government printing currency to pay for military expenditures and political cronies.

  20. Black Flag says:

    Lloyd’s Market Association quotes that “premiums have been rising — at least tenfold”

    Large ships generally carry three separate types of insurance. Marine — or hull — insurance covers physical risks, such as grounding or damage from heavy seas. A second type of policy, protection and indemnity, covers crew issues, while war risk insurance covers acts of war, insurgency, and terrorism.

    Although war risk policies typically cover hijackings and piracy, insurers often charge extra for ships that venture into high risk areas such as the Gulf of Aden. Others, including Chicago-based Aon Corp. and London’s International Security Solutions Ltd., have recently launched new plans specifically tailored to cover losses incurred by piracy — for example by including ransoms and cargo delays under the same policy.

    The other option available to ship operators, taking the long way around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope instead of the short cut through the Suez Canal, is also expensive.

    Routing a tanker from Saudi Arabia to the United States through the Cape of Good Hope, for example, would add 2,700 miles to the voyage and boost annual fuel costs by about $3.5 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

    In addition, it said using that route would mean the ship could make only five round trips a year instead of six, cutting delivery capacity by 26 percent.

    …imagine the increase in insurance after two or three ships go down… ships will change their transit, costing the global economy …sit down… a 26% drop in delivery capacity.

    The US economy shrank by 1.8% – devasting the USA.

    Now, 26% drop in delivery will not make an equivalent drop in the economy – but it will be felt, and felt hard.

  21. I believe America has the right and the obligation to protect our own citizens and the property of those citizens, whenever and wherever threatened (nuts to international law if it prevents this obligation). I do not believe America should be involved in the internal politics of independant nations. Somalia needs to work out it’s own destiny. If the rest of the world got out of the way, they would do just that (I agree with Black Flag thus far, though I don’t believe anarchy will be or can be the permanent solution).

    As for the pirates we need to arm our merchant marines (I can’t understand how having guns on board ship would RAISE insurance costs–insane) and heavily patrol the dangerous waters, even to the degree of escorting merchants with Navy ships. We should not however attack the pirates on land. For one thing, how can you be sure they are pirates, unless they are caught in the act?

    • Black Flag says:

      Armed merchant ships are not used because almost every major port in the world prohibits armed ships from entering their waters without expressed permission. This permission is not given lightly (for obvious reasons).

      This is way it is a big deal for a foreign warship to ‘visit’ an international port. Takes months, if not years, of negotiation.

      To use armed merchants would require a ‘free port’ where the merchants could transfer their goods to an unarmed ship to complete the voyage. One can imagine the costs – and obviously, this port would become the new hunting ground for surface-sharks.

      • Just my 2 cents….but…1st how many days did these pirates hold the US Navy at bay while we made a decision about what we could legally do? What a joke we should not have had to wait for approval from anyone. 2nd any nation who does not want and armed ship in their port obviously does not need the merchandise the ship delivers because it would be let them in armed or do without. 3rd all vessels operating in that area should be armed very well and now how to use those weapons very efficiently. There needs to be a law that says inside these waters any vessel getting within 1/2 mile of any ship will be fired on and sunk…period. Then make sure everyone knows the rules…even the fishing vessels…that way there are no “accidents”. If the pirates are only after money when it becomes to hard to get money in the fashion they have become accustom to the will find another means of work.
        Why are a few always allowed to hold the world hostage…this is stupid. This is a crime, period. you treat them like any other criminal.
        Obama made the right choice….it took to long for him to make it but he did do something right. There is only one way to deal with bullies….you either pay them to not beat you up or you knock them on their rear. It is time to knock them on their rear and if they insist upon getting up knock them doen again until the get the message.

  22. In my eyes there are two possibilities:

    1. Build convoys and escort them. So many countries sent their navys to Africa and they keep patroling north and south. It would be way better if they’d stick to possible targets. You could line up 50 ships like in WW II. With an armed helicopter on board the whole convoy could be protected by one warship. As I said the navy is there anyway regardless of what they do! Even if you put marines on every US ship I don’t think that this would pose any cost problem at all. Why? Because we have and pay those marines anyway. After Iraq it’s not like we need to send all our marines or soldiers to war. When there is no war soldiers need training (many european soldiers train their whole life and never get engaged in war at all). It doesn’t matter if they train at home or protect ships and get live training. The ships should have to supply them with food and accomodation (+ some danger money?) and we regularly pay our marines.

    2. Arm crew and ships. Even a Browning M2. 50 caliber machine gun from WW II would do the job and stop every attacking pirate vessel. We have lots of tactical advantages on the ships. Not only does the M2 have an impressing maximum effective range of 2000 meters (much more than AKs and RPGs) but in addition to that we are on the heavy ships that are not prone to wave movement. It is impossible to shoot an AK or RPG accurate from a pirate vessel that is constantly moving up and down. Just imagine the possibilities, even a M2 has 550 shots per minute so accuracy is not a problem. If we now add an electronical camera movement and shooting system all the crew members would be safe under deck and could fully operate the armament from inside. To hell with those RPGs, a spray of .50 calibers would knock them out before they even get into shooting range.
    Too expensive? BS! Compared to the price of a ship the costs of two machine guns can be neglected. Insurance of 150.000 would go down dramatically and could equate for the armament within the first payment. What will the pirates do? First they will now try to only attack unarmed ships. For unarmed ships the insruance would rise but this is not of any concern for me or for the people who are willing to protect their property.

    The only problem in my eyes could be the legal side but laws can be changed and should be changed in this case. Moreover we have common law that reaches back some 800 years where it is clearly stated that pirate ships can be sunken without warning.

    The pirates have a very weak position.

    • Black Flag says:


      21,000 ships transit the area annually, all going in different directions, to different destinations. It is inconceivable to convey them.

      WW1 and WW2 conveys work because all the ships went from one place to exactly the same ‘other’ place.

      Armed ships are prohibited in almost every major port in the world.

      • Black Flag says:

        Oh, yes, that’s true. Pirate ships fair target for all navies.

        Problem is, unlike the movies, they do not fly a Black Flag letting you know they are coming.

        They look like just another cargo ship.

        Want to see cost of cargo shipping go through the roof?

        Have one cargo ship firing upon and sinking another cargo ship by accident.

        • Black Flag says:

          PS: Convey = to move
          CONVOY = to organizing moving ships….

          😉 Please replace convey with convoy in my posts

        • There’s a simple solution to that problem. Transponders of the Friend or Foe variety. It works well with aircraft. It might work well here.

    • Arm all merchant ships? OK, how about this, a Russian tanker delivering farm equipment from India to the USA has to pass through the pirate-infested waters. So by your logic, it would be armed. Now, that same ship finally arrives at it’s destination, and let’s randomly pick the port of New York. Do you think for a nano-second that 1) the US would allow an armed Russian ship into NY harbor? 2) the citizens of NY would sit still while this Russian ship bristling with weapons is in port?
      Now reverse the scenario, with an American ship visiting a Russian port? Let’s cut to the chase, it just wouldn’t happen, both ships would be denied entry, or at the very least, under constant scrutiny and cover by a military force capable of dealing with the ship. In other words, any armed merchant ship entering US waters would have to be escorted by a US warship, and that warship would have to devote all it’s time and resources to the foreign merchant ship.
      Another scenario not given thought is about oil and LPG tankers. One hit with an RPG would result in a dead crew, the loss of a ship and cargo, and an environmental disaster.
      You can place a hundred marines and four chain guns on any ship, and if just one RPG round hits the ship (actually a very easy thing to do since they present such a slow and large target) then it’s bye-bye time for the ship and crew.
      Lastly, all the pirate organizers have to do is issue a statement that any armed resistance would result in the death of all crew members and the ship. Ship owners would face the hard decision of risking fighting and losing all, or accepting the statistical risk of piracy, but the eventual safe return of the ship and crew. For a business decision, it’s real easy, and thus the ships would not be armed, and the owners would not allow it.

      • Dave, your whole comment did not contain one constructive suggestion so don’t take it personally when I only give you short answers just because you are too lazy or not willing to think about it.

        I did not say that all ships should be equiped with cruise missiles and nuclear weapons. Lets keep it down to two or three machine guns.
        One solution would be that the machine guns have to be unmounted about 50 nautical miles before the ships enter the ports. As soon as the ship gets to its anchorage the MGs are brought from board and are stored safely till the ship leaves.

        Another solution would be that the machine guns are exchanged from ship to ship by helicopter so they only are armed when they enter the coast of East Africa.

        Super tankers are unloaded on special terminals anyway so they don’t even come close to big cities. It doesn’t matter if they carry machine guns or not.
        Lets assume a worst case scenario where terrorists infiltrated a ship and want to go on a rampage in NY:

        1) They don’t dismount the MG’s. We warn them 40 nautical miles in front of NY. They don’t react. We send a helicopter and blow those MG’s from deck. Case closed.

        2) They dismount and try to mount in harbor. We send helicopters and blow the MG’s off as soon as we see it. Case closed.

        Still the most important questions remains…WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT TO SHOOT AT IN A HARBOR? Do you want to kill containers or cranes or other ships? Yes? Then this is the right place to start a rampage but not if you want to kill people. Even Bin Laden wouldn’t be that retarded.

        As I said I don’t care what other countries do but we don’t give in against stupid pirates. We defend freedom or at least enable our people to defend it themselves.

        Next point. What happens if an LNG or LPG tanker gets hit by an RPG? First of all an RPG has an effective range of about 250m maybe 500m in very skilled hands. It contains only small amounts of explosives and its primary aim is armor penetration. An M2 has about 2000m range, better MGs even more. We would shoot them before they are able to launch their RPGs. So what happens if they still manage to hit us with an RPG? I don’t know. But I know what happens when a RPG hits an oil tanker: With a p value of 0.99, NOTHING! I saw a japanese tanker that got hit by an RPG. It had a little hole above the sea line where it got hit and it was losing a little oil. That was all. I don’t know what happens if an LNG or LPG tanker gets hit but it would be interesting to hear a scientific answer on it.

        If only the US and some other countries arm their ships the first thing the pirates would do is to attack only unarmed ones. Why would they risk their lives when there are plenty other ships from freedom hating countries that don’t defend themselves?

  23. Black Flag says:

    I guess my point is;

    If there was a simply answer to the Somalian pirates, the shipping companies and their insurance companies would have found it.

    It only represents 0.3% of the shipping traffic, and only costs $80 million a year in ransom.

    The high cost of national navies and the low risk of attack simply makes it not viable to police the Gulf.

    Only the political spotlight makes this an issue. National governments hate having their noses tweaked – and cost in money and lives is no barrier to national pride.


    Somalia: Pirates’ Continuing Evolution

    But piracy in the Gulf of Aden, off the Somalian coast, is on the rise, with 67 attacks and 26 successful hijackings reported there so far in 2008.

    Most of the attacks along the Somalian coast take place in the Gulf of Aden, the body of water situated between the northern coast of Somalia and Yemen. The Gulf of Aden sees about 20,000 ships pass through it per year (by comparison, 50,000 ships pass through the Strait of Malacca and 13,000 through the Panama Canal annually).

    Pirates’ Evolving Tactics

    Allowed to flourish in the uncontrolled waters off the coast of Somalia, pirates have improved their tactics and grown more sophisticated. This has resulted in more seized ships and ransom payments, which then funds more piracy. The British Royal Institute of International Affairs estimates that Somalia-based pirates have raked in $18-30 million in ransom payments so far in 2008; some individual payments are as high as $3 million. This surge of cash has allowed pirates to purchase global positioning system equipment, satellite phones and more watercraft, which improves their navigating ability and communications. With more money, it is feasible that pirates could even buy radar equipment, which would increase their range even further.

    Pirates have also adopted the use of “mother ships” over the past several years to extend their reach. The speed boats pirates used previously can only venture 20-30 miles off the coast in search of targets; using mother ships allows them to go further offshore for longer periods of time. In fact, attacks have occurred as far as 200 miles offshore, a distance considered safe under any other circumstances. Essentially, a mother ship is a fishing boat (usually stolen) stocked with supplies. Pirates will moor their speed boats to the ship and haul them out to sea. From there, they can launch attacks much further offshore and thus pose a threat even to ships that follow the guidance of keeping their distance from shore.

    Pirates tend to target small to medium-sized boats. Although pirates have gone after bigger ships, large tankers and container ships have the technical capabilities to spot pirates more quickly and can then perform evasive maneuvers like increasing speed to avoid an attack. Small to medium-sized boats like the Svitzer Korsakov (a Russian tugboat hijacked Feb. 1) and the Le Ponant (a French private yacht that was hijacked April 4 and eventually freed by French commandos) have fewer crew members and are easier to board. Large ocean liners like the Japanese oil tanker Takayama or the Ukrainian ship MV Faina (which was carrying tanks from Ukraine to Kenya) are rarely attacked, much less successfully hijacked.

    Pirates are always heavily armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) which they use to scare captains into capitulation; in fact, the Takayama was struck with an RPG but steamed ahead to avoid capture. The captain of the Svitzer Korsakov went into a 360-degree high-speed spin to prevent the pirates from boarding with ladders and ropes, but when more pirate boats showed up, he allowed the pirates to board. He and his crew were held hostage for 47 days.

    Once the pirates are on board a ship, they will steer it toward land where they enjoy widespread support from local villagers. There are reports of villagers taking turns guarding hostages and even of government forces helping pirates. Piracy is one of the few profitable ventures in a very unstable, poor country, so it is easy to understand why such a lucrative business would enjoy such popular support. Somalian pirates have also shown a track record of taking care of their hostages. Despite threats to kill hostages if ransom payments are not delivered, only one hostage has reportedly died in pirate captivity so far in 2008 and that was due to a heart condition, not violence apparently. According to the captain of the Svitzer Korsakov, the pirates carried a manual on how to treat hostages. This is not to say that hostage deaths do not occur; Somalian pirates killed a member of a Taiwanese fishing vessel crew in 2007 after a ransom was not delivered.

    But even though their operations have increased, pirates off the Somalian coast only attack about 0.3 percent of the total ship traffic passing through the Gulf of Aden, and only 0.1 percent of the ships are hijacked, making the possibility of a pirate attack rather remote.

    Additionally, the ships that are attacked are frequently owned by companies based out of countries like the Ukraine or the United Arab Emirates — countries without strong navies that are unable to protect their ships.

    Countries able to recapture a ship from pirates typically will only do so if the ship represents their own national interests.

    France will not risk the lives of its commandos for a hijacked Ukrainian vessel, and the United States is reluctant to fire on a hijacked UAE vessel out of fear that it could complicate the situation.

    Piracy does not pose enough of a threat to the world to justify reassigning ships to patrol for pirates instead of assisting forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Nations will move to protect their own (as in the Le Ponant case), but as long as pirates attack ships from countries with no formidable navy, they will rouse attention but little action. The MV Faina is a perfect example. Even though the United States could deploy special forces to retake the boat, it has chosen to merely quarantine the boat to ensure the weapons on board do not fall into the wrong hands. The United States will not engage the pirates, and negotiations are continuing with the Kenyan authorities responsible for purchasing the tanks on board the MV Faina.

    For now, countries that could address piracy are more focused on terrorism. And despite claims like those from Yemeni presidential adviser Mohammad al-Ansi that al Qaeda is behind the piracy in the Gulf of Aden, there is simply no evidence to support that theory. The piracy in the Gulf of Aden is a criminal issue, and there is no effective local police force to address the problem. Thus, responsibility falls on foreign powers that tend to act in their own interests rather than addressing the problem in general. Unless pirates change their tactics and start attacking U.S. ships or increasing the level of violence in their attacks (neither of which is likely), the piracy threat will remain a secondary priority and will not attract the full force of a capable navy like the United States’.

    …maybe the last sentence has been triggered…

    • BF,

      Look at the map. The Gulf of Aden leads to the Black Sea which is the southern entrance to the Suez Canal. That Canal is one of the most important shipping routes on this planet. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden must not be allowed to continue. Why? How much are you willing to pay in ransom for the goods of life? Pay ransom on a regular basis to pirates in that area and if you think that you are paying too much for products that are being shipped through that area now . . . In the immortal words of Al Jolson – “Baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

      Two medium nukes to the pirates home ports would end the problem.

      How is that for dealing with Anarchy?

    • I really do not understand…..why should we have to send a Navy to protect a merchant ship? Do you need the Army or Navy to protect your food, your home, or your family? This is just plain wrong. If I harbor a criminal I am just as guilty as they are. These pirates are criminals and the world needs to treat them as such instead of dancing around with these criminals. It does not matter why a person is a criminal, or how they young they are….those ships have the right to protect themselves and should be allowed and given the means to do exactly that. All ships have radio communication and they need to use their equipment to signal friendlies so their won’t be accidents….It does not take long to figure out you get to close you get sank. Why do we always have to act so docile? Make a law and enforce it.

      • Black Flag says:


        As I said above – you cannot solve a problem without understanding why the problem exists.

        A man does not take up arms against another man – especially a man who has incredibly more firepower than himself – for no reason

        Without addressing the root, you are merely creating a Hydra with more and more violence against it.

  24. USW;

    I owe you an apology, my friend.

    I have let my anger control me again.

    You have maintained this site for calm and intelligent discussion, and I have violated that honorable principle.

    I do not apologize for my opinions that I have stated here and on other posts, but just for letting my anger getting away from my control.

    I am a very passionate man when it comes to the way some people try to make my country out to be the bad guys no matter what we try and do. Remember that it was my generation that was literally spit upon for trying to help another country obtain some level of freedom during the 1960’s.

    I am one who does not understand how someone who is so articulate and as educated and well read as BF cannot see exactly what Anarchy really is when Somalia is nothing but a “shinning” example. Not any where near the utopia that he continuously proclaims it to be. I am sure that was Karl Marx’s view of his idea of communism as well.

    I am taking a break for a few days. Will not be around for a short while. Going to go out and protest my governments insane policies of spending without limits or regards to the consequences of such policies. Not violently, of course. Just attending a tea party that is quite a ways away from the old homestead.

    Be back Thursday.

    • The problem with BF is that he never experienced anarchy. Move him to Somalia or any other failed state where at least some form of anarchy is ruling and I’m quite sure his opinion will change pretty fast.

  25. There’s lots of problems with this solution, but here’s an idea. This needs to be done very quitely so the pirates don’t see the ‘big picture’.

    Get an aircraft carrier battle group in the area. Establish safe shipping lanes in the middle of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean and patrol them with ships and aircraft.

    Pay the randsom on all the current ships held by the pirates. Yes, I agree this sucks, but we have to get the hostages out of the hands of the pirates so they have no leverage.

    Then go public – Announce that any boats that approach the shipping lane (before they are close enough to attack a ship) will get one warning shot. If they do not turn around, on the second pass the fighter jet takes out the boat. When piracy is no longer safe and profitable, it will end.

    The problem is the current situation is escalating. 4 ships hijacked in the last few days. A US ship attacked today with RPG’s but the attack was repeled. The US Bainbridge, with Captain Phillips still onboard, responded but the pirates were gone by the time they got there.

    Piracy is currently criminal, but you can bet al Qaeda would love to get involved for cash and western/US hostages.

    So pick this a part!!!

    • esomhillgazette says:

      Todd, maybe we could also use Predator Recon Drones to check the Somalian or other boats for arms. If so, then WHAM! Shark Food! If ships cannot be armed according to Int. Law, then none of the boats around Somalia should be armed right?

    • What about legitimate shipping in that area? How about the local fishermen? Because most of the small boats in that area are just fishermen, doing just that, fishing.
      Geez, the Somalis have little, and depriving them of the right to fish would just cause more starvation and hardship for them.
      Additionally, during hard times is when the warlords and criminals flourish. Make things harder for the average Somali, and you just give the criminals more of a chance to gain more power.

      • esomhillgazette says:

        Maybe you didn’t read good enough. I said “have the drone check the boats for arms”. The Predators are plenty good enough to see Pirates hoding guns or manning Machine guns. Who said anything about killing fishermen or legit shipping? No one is supposed to be armed. Remember?

  26. TexasChem says:

    Well without all the hooplah I can sum up my opinion in 4 words:


    Anyone not understand this rather basic simplistic attitude?

    • So then McDonald’s will set up a franchise in downdown Mogadishu?
      Sorry, I was being facetious, but just what culture do you think could be placed into Somalia, and would work for them?

      And does the concept of subduing them involve armed force? Because you can’t force any society to accept something they do not wish to embrace.


      Native Americans
      Native Central Americans
      Native South Americans
      North Africans
      etc, etc, etc,


      • TexasChem says:

        Somalia has been at war within itself for over a century.Within ITSELF while fighting Kenya.Within itself when Islamist vs christian.Within itself when Tribe vs tribe.Within itself when Islam vs Islam.Within itself when European colonists vs Somalians. On and on and on.There is no common ground there.

        They have no government that can maintain peace and allow freedom for their people.As a result we have warlords that rule with an iron fist, 7.62×39 mm bullets and RPG’s.Now that piracy has turned out to be profitable for them they suddenly come to the attention of the superpowers because it affects the world at large.I say what I said because I think the Somalia people would gladly accept change if it were offered to them.The sad thing is it could not be offered to them without military intervention.I have a friend from Kenya that loves America.He immigrated here and tells me the differences are as like night and day and wishes the African countries could be like America.Kenya borders Somalia and have been at war in the past so I think he may have an inclination as to what the people want there.

  27. Obama made the right call to take out the pirates. He made, in my opinion, about 3 days later than he should have. There was no need for the media circus, it should have ended days ago. And he doesn’t need to do anything else until a U.S. ship is attacked again, and then he needs to hit even harder and faster. This should continue until U.S. ships are no longer targeted.

    • Despite three of the pirates killed and a fourth captured, the pirates once again attacked a US ship. This time it was the Liberty Sun. It was rescued by the French warship Nivose. The Nivose captured 11 pirates. Amazing how so many bash the French, yet today they are responsible for saving the lives of Americans.
      It appears the pirates have escalated their actions, and my belief is they are seeking out US ships so that they may kill any US citizen. The stakes have gone up, and the pirates are not intimidated. Also be aware that they have the means and money to purchase even more capable weapons on the black market. Currently they prefer just AK-47’s and RPG’s. But I’m very sure that right now someone somewhere is setting up a deal to buy more capable weapons with greater firepower, accuracy, and range.

      • I understand an escalated response, it is both strategic and expected by the pirtates. It is a test of resolve, and an attempt to bring a pacifist reaction or a negotiation, as other resistors have elicited in the past. The proper response would be to go after the pirate boats. Once a boat is identified as pirate, and it is cleared of innocent persons, it should be either sunk or captured and impounded. The black market certainly holds plenty of weaponry, but none superior to our current equipment on our naval warships.

        I appreciate the actions of the French, we would do the same for them, and have done so many times on a much larger scale.

        Killing 3 people is not a strong enough message, this is an attack on US property in international waters, we have full authority to respond to any and all threats. I do not think an attack on Somalia or a coordinated effort with the Somali government is appropriate in this situation, this is guerilla warfare. We set traps, arming ships that appear harmless. We arm the real transport ships that are US owned. We blow pirate ships to bits with our warships. We don’t play games and we don’t play this soft, it doesn’t work that way, it never has in history. These are not enlightened individuals that can be reaoned with on our terms, they must be reasoned with on their own terms. Leave our stuff alone, or face the consequences.

    • esomhillgazette says:

      How about a few Tomahawks to the Pirate hangouts?

  28. DaveE

    Since you’re so informed about Islam, please give us all an understandable explaination for the violence between Sunni and Shia muslims. I’d like examples to back up your arguemnt. BTW, I’ve never even been the religion of peace website you mention, so what are you talking about? There are many other ways to determine what islam says and what it does, but I won’t waste my time with you. I went through that with BF and it was a waste of my time. When it comes to BF, at least he makes some sense and understands the real world, not just the theoretical. I’m not sure you’ve spent time in the real world, at least by looking at your posts.

    • Black Flag says:

      It is the same explanation as the one for the violence between Christians in, say, Ireland, or why Christian Germany attacked Christian France, or why Christian England attacked Christian South Africa, or why Christian America revolted from Christian England, or why Christian Northern States destroyed Christian Southern States….

      You have the answer, right, Cindy?

  29. Black Flag says:

    Too funny and too true.

    Watch this video.

  30. To go to sea, and not be armed, is insanity. There is no way a little ship full of maritime thieves could stand up to a ship full of armed defenders. Of course, I feel the same way about going to the Post Office, too.

  31. TexasChem says:

    Somalias’ parliament just voted in Shariah law on saturday.This Islamic “law” forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women and beards for men, and bans music and television.Not to mention that the consequences for breaking these “laws” range from beheadings, death punishment for apostasy and hypocrisy, honor killings, and dismemberment.
    I wonder how many more of these Somalian enclaves will be allowed into the U.S. under the pretense of being “refugees”.

  32. BF,

    You STILL have not answered the question, and again, are trying to change the subject. But I’ll nibble your bait. The reason for violence between Christians and other Christians, and muslims and other muslims, is for power and domination of other humans. You seem to have a problem with Christians doing violence to muslims, but give a pass to muslims who do as Christians. Whatever. Now, please show me the news reports of anti musim violence by christians. Show me the videos of Christians encouraging other Christians to have the Pope be in charge of the world, as muslims want the Caliphate. Show me the quotes from scripture, and Christians quoting scripture while encouraging their brethren to Crusade. Here’s my stuff:
    Harvard Islamic chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser ’96 has recently come under fire for controversial statements in which he allegedly endorsed death as a punishment for Islamic apostates.
    Christian woman run out of home – and beaten – while another is prohibited from leaving.
    Jailbust rant by fanatic
    If you need some more info…
    Notice the absence of Fox News..

  33. I just can’t believe that so many people post spam on sites especially blogs just for the sake of some links. I need to stay alert 24/24 even with fancy pluggins like spam killer… I dont want to imagine what would happen to my sites if I didn’t had this kind of protection.

  34. These Pirates Must Be Exterminated- we are behind the times and Laws Need to Be Enforced- Piracy Is Terrorism- Terrorism should be treated with LETHAL FORCE ANYWHERE ANY TIME ANY PLACE FOR ANY REASON- WE DON’T NEGOTIATE REMEMBER? WE NEED TO-(THE CIVILIZED WORLD NEEDS TO) LEVEL THESE PIRATE VESSELS INTO THE DEEP- NO ANDS IFS OR BUTTS

    when do we say ok well negotiate on the high seas but not in a sovereign country- the oceans are sovereign to the entire world and the UN Flagged Vessels should be equipped with the most modern pirate killing vessels available and go after these soul less inhuman foul terrorist with the same vigor as the Taliban or anyone else- what happens when we know vessels are carrying illegal nuclear weapons or smuggling drugs we board them and if they don’t heave to we sink them PERIOD

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