Article Archive: Current 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
 Latest
 News
 
 Most
 Read
 
 Most
 Commented
 Hot
 Topics
Sea Transportation: Prepare To Repel Boarders
   Next Article → ATTRITION: The Enemy Within
March 13, 2009: The Somali pirates are having a harder time taking merchant ships for ransom. It’s not for lack of traffic. The Gulf of Aden, where most of the pirates operate, is one the busiest shipping lanes in the world (with nearly ten percent of world traffic). Each month, 1500-1600 ships pass the northern coast of Somalia. Last year, about one out of 200 ships was attacked. Because of that, the chances of getting attacked were so low that most crews did not pay much attention to it.

But the millions paid out in ransoms for the 42 ships that were taken, had to be paid for. Soon it was costing all ships an additional $20,000 in insurance, fuel and danger bonus costs to transit the 1,500 kilometer length of the Gulf of Aden. Owners incurred additional costs if one of their ships was seized, although insurance companies are willing to offer policies for that as well. So, in the past year, most owners have ordered their captains to prepare their crews for the possibility of pirate attacks while transiting the Gulf.

As a result, most merchant ships are more prepared for pirate attacks. They put on extra lookouts, especially at night, and often transit the 1,500 kilometer long Gulf of Aden at high speed (even though this costs them thousands of dollars in additional fuel). The pirates seek the slower moving, apparently unwary, ships, and go after them before they can speed up enough to get away. The international anti-piracy patrol offers convoy protection, but many ships don't want to halt and wait for a convoy to form. Ships that decide to proceed on their own, take additional precautions.

An example of these precautions can be seen in the experience of a Chinese cargo ship, the Zhenhua 4, last December. Back then, the ship was boarded by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The resolute crew retreated to their living quarters and called for help. As the pirates came aboard, the crew fought back with fire bombs and fire hoses, and refused to come out of the living quarters. The pirates fired at the crew, and were apparently perplexed at what to do. Meanwhile, a nearby Malaysian warship dispatched a helicopter, which shot at the pirates and caused them to flee in their speedboats. The crew of the Zhenhua 4 patched up the bullet holes and resumed their voyage.

The resistance on the Zhenhua 4 was no accident. The captain had worked out a drill to resist boarders, and had the crew rehearse it ten days before they were attacked. Moreover, the Chinese were aware that, on October 30th, 2007, a North Korean merchant ship, the Dai Hong Dan, was boarded by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The North Koreans managed to get off a distress message. The ship was in international waters, 108 kilometers off the coast, unloading sugar to smaller boats. This offshore unloading arrangement was supposed to protect the North Koreans from pirates. The pirates were actually armed guards hired to protect the crew from real pirates during this unloading operation. The North Koreans fought back, killed some of the pirates (and lost some crew members) and regained control of their ship.

The Internet have proved an invaluable tool for ships planning for the Aden run. Everyone knows of the measures used by the Zhenhua 4 and the North Koreans, but there are many more ideas that have not gotten much coverage in the mass media. For example, crews now make more use of the fire hoses, and collect large objects (sheets of metal, junked furniture and empty boxes) to be heaved overboard onto the pirate boats. Poles are fabricated for pushing away ladders pirates often use to get aboard. The captains and crew members on the Internet exchange techniques for training crews, and preparing "repel boarders" drills. Sailors that have been aboard captured ships, and spent months in captivity, relate what that experience was like, and let other sailors know what to expect. This encourages the merchant ship sailors to pay closer attention to the drills and techniques to be used to avoid capture in the first place. Captains pay particular attention to the use of speed and maneuvering successfully used to avoid the approaching pirate speedboats. This may not always enable the ships to escape, but it does provide time for the troops to get ready to repel the pirates attempting to board.

These efforts by the crews have led to nearly 250 pirates being captured, in the past six months, by warships that often show up. While half these pirates were simply disarmed and released, the other half were held for possible (although unlikely) prosecution. This pressure is causing the pirates to try different tactics, like more operations at night, and far off the east coast (where ships too large for the Suez canal head south to go around Africa for the Atlantic.) Captains travelling off the east coast have been on the alert since late last year, when a Saudi supertanker was seized as it headed south. That ship was only recently released, after a $3 million ransom was paid. No matter how hard the pirates try, things will never as easy as they were in 2008.

Next Article → ATTRITION: The Enemy Within
  

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
Pages: 1 2
DragonReborn    Honey Trap idea?   3/13/2009 6:47:53 AM
In one of the previous threads on Somali piracy, someone suggested arming the merchant ships, however this is problematic as it would cost alot and no port would admit an armed ship.
 
However why not put 50 Marines on a handful of the slowest ships and have them go through the hotspots looking to be attacked.
 
After several pirate parties get wiped out by Marines with MK19s, 50 Cals and Assault Rifles they will soon think twice about attacking any boat?
 
 

 
Quote    Reply

Bob Cortez       3/13/2009 7:11:43 AM

In the age of iron men and wooden ships, the classic way of handling a small boat threat was to drop a cannon ball on it.  Seems that would be better with cheap weights serving rather than other stuff: somethings never change.

 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       3/13/2009 7:29:32 AM

In one of the previous threads on Somali piracy, someone suggested arming the merchant ships, however this is problematic as it would cost alot and no port would admit an armed ship.

 It's also an insurance issue, and it impacts on the status of the vessel.  It also would effect right of access in some countries

However why not put 50 Marines on a handful of the slowest ships and have them go through the hotspots looking to be attacked.

 The more protective ship owners already have private maritime security. The problem is that the pirates are not all unsophisticated opportunists.  they have people on the inside who know what ships have of value, know their manifests etc.. and which ships are protected.  This is the problem in the Straits and is now more self evident in the Gulf/Suez transit areas

After several pirate parties get wiped out by Marines with MK19s, 50 Cals and Assault Rifles they will soon think twice about attacking any boat?

 China, Russia and India have all sunk pirate ships/vessels, it hasn't slowed the enthusiasm of the pirates to any significant degree
It's not an issue of just stopping at sea events, its about tracking the money flow and its about identifying the bank accounts and turning them off.  It's also about demonstrating will and engaging in hot pursuit into Somalia itself and hunting them down so that they know that they have no immunity by escaping inland.  and then its about prosecuting those caught to the absolute maximum potential of international law.
killing a few pirates won't stop it.
 

 





 
Quote    Reply

DragonReborn    Honey Trap idea?   3/13/2009 8:58:00 AM
In one of the previous threads on Somali piracy, someone suggested arming the merchant ships, however this is problematic as it would cost alot and no port would admit an armed ship.
 
However why not put 50 Marines on a handful of the slowest ships and have them go through the hotspots looking to be attacked.
 
After several pirate parties get wiped out by Marines with MK19s, 50 Cals and Assault Rifles they will soon think twice about attacking any boat?
 
 

 
Quote    Reply

Sty0pa    simply not serious   3/13/2009 11:00:19 AM
As I see it, the problem is that piracy is working (or at least, it HAS worked).  We simply aren't serious enough about it to impact their cost-benefit equation.
 
In a part of the world where life is cheap and people live on nearly nothing, even a single successful hijacking for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom - well, you can lose a lot of pirate boats and your (community/tribe/clan/warlord/whatever) still comes out WAY ahead.
 
I believe that, short of the 'scorched earth' aggressive techniques used to burn out the source communities ashore by the US and British navies in the 1800s (which worked for Decatur), we have the technology to more successfully intercept pirates today and avoid the moral quagmire of punishing shore villages for the activities of pirates which may have little to actually do with them.
 
On the other hand, if we simply executed all pirates, period?  If the local warlord or opportunistic town sent out boat after boat of young men that NEVER CAME BACK?  Even in that part of the world, ultimately it would have an impact on the willingness of these guys to get into the boats to go a-pirating.  I just don't think that the moral standards of the west in 2009 allow us to deal with the pirate threat effectively.
 
Quote    Reply

WarNerd       3/13/2009 1:05:30 PM

we have the technology to more successfully intercept pirates today and avoid the moral quagmire of punishing shore villages for the activities of pirates which may have little to actually do with them.
 
No, we do not have the technology to successfully intercept pirates. 
 
Suspicious behavior and the procession of common firearms does not constitute proof of guilt.  Many Somali fishermen are armed to fight off 'pirates' (this may actually be an extension of clan warfare to the high seas).  So, the moral quagmire is also a legal one

 
Quote    Reply

geekynerd       3/13/2009 1:34:21 PM
Back in WWI  (yes, that's a one there) the Brits came up with the brilliant idea of Q-ships that would go out looking like lone and slow freighters in order to suck in enemy commerce raiders and submarines.
 
Results were mixed in that few enemy ships were actually sunk but at the same time enemy commanders became very wary of going after these "defenseless loners".
 
Why not do the same in this case (modern Q-ships) and respond in the same way, don't capture and try them, simply fire back with much bigger and better guns and then rescue and prosecute the survivors.
 
I'd wager my next paycheque that the piracy problem would be greatly diminished and with modern weapons systems enemy casualties would be far higher than in WW1 or II.
 
Thoughts?
 
Quote    Reply

geekynerd       3/13/2009 1:40:38 PM
Back in WWI  (yes, that's a one there) the Brits came up with the brilliant idea of Q-ships that would go out looking like lone and slow freighters in order to suck in enemy commerce raiders and submarines.
 
Results were mixed in that few enemy ships were actually sunk but at the same time enemy commanders became very wary of going after these "defenseless loners".
 
Why not do the same in this case (modern Q-ships) and respond in the same way, don't capture and try them, simply fire back with much bigger and better guns and then rescue and prosecute the survivors.
 
I'd wager my next paycheque that the piracy problem would be greatly diminished and with modern weapons systems enemy casualties would be far higher than in WW1 or II.
 
Thoughts?
 
Quote    Reply

geekynerd       3/13/2009 1:41:56 PM
Back in WWI  (yes, that's a one there) the Brits came up with the brilliant idea of Q-ships that would go out looking like lone and slow freighters in order to suck in enemy commerce raiders and submarines.
 
Results were mixed in that few enemy ships were actually sunk but at the same time enemy commanders became very wary of going after these "defenseless loners".
 
Why not do the same in this case (modern Q-ships) and respond in the same way, don't capture and try them, simply fire back with much bigger and better guns and then rescue and prosecute the survivors.
 
I'd wager my next paycheque that the piracy problem would be greatly diminished and with modern weapons systems enemy casualties would be far higher than in WW1 or II.
 
Thoughts?
 
Quote    Reply

geekynerd       3/13/2009 2:00:27 PM
Back in WWI  (yes, that's a one there) the Brits came up with the brilliant idea of Q-ships that would go out looking like lone and slow freighters in order to suck in enemy commerce raiders and submarines.
 
Results were mixed in that few enemy ships were actually sunk but at the same time enemy commanders became very wary of going after these "defenseless loners".
 
Why not do the same in this case (modern Q-ships) and respond in the same way, don't capture and try them, simply fire back with much bigger and better guns and then rescue and prosecute the survivors.
 
I'd wager my next paycheque that the piracy problem would be greatly diminished and with modern weapons systems enemy casualties would be far higher than in WW1 or II.
 
Thoughts?
 
Quote    Reply
1 2