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Piracy Prevention Ponderings

Posted March 03, 2011 7:00 AM

Somali pirates currently hold 30 ships and over 700 hostages. One recent victim, the 104,255 ton tanker Savina Caylyn, was en route to Malaysia from Sudan when pirates captured her 22 Italian and Indian crewmembers. Shipping company executives are calling for more government protection, especially since the cost of insuring ships and cargoes has skyrocketed. The U.S., UK, and France have about a dozen vessels patrolling the area, but perhaps it's not enough. Is it time for oil-consuming nations to move in more protection?

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#1

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 9:04 AM

It's not the government's job. Shipping companies need to deploy small, private security forces on these ships, that have been screened and sanctioned by whatever governments are involved. With the right weapons, we're probably talking 4-5 well trained, (former military?), people on each ship.

If this isn't acceptable, supply 4-5 currently serving military special forces personnel to each ship, from the country of registration.

From there, pirates that insist on trying to seize these ships will be killed. Period.

They'll stop.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 10:58 AM

GA from me, the key sentence: "From there, pirates that insist on trying to seize these ships will be killed. Period."

Expect to hear more liberal views on this...BlahBlahBlahBlah negotiations Blah-Blah inhumane Blah and Blah.

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#3
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 11:14 AM

I know it. I've always thought, and always will, that killing bad guys that are going to kill you is completely justified. Doing nothing in Libya seems to going well.*

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#32
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:15 PM

Unredundant, it's probably a bad idea to inject political party bashing into this forum. I consider myself "liberal" and I don't appreciate your pretentious and patronizing words on what a liberal may think of this subject. I support having armed teams to protect ships.

It would be absolutely fantastic if we could keep at least this one website free of political bipartisan insults. Really, it would. It seems like you can't go to any forum on the internet today, without hearing radicals from one side or the other throwing barbs at the other side. It's really disheartening and ridiculous. How about we stay on point, and not contaminate CR4 with crap like that. Thanx.

Now, back to the topic. The Post #1 is a bit confusing. You mentioned that gov'ts should not be involved. Then you suggest 4-5 ex-military on board. Great idea. But then finally you suggest that SF teams should be assigned on each ship. Well, that would mean that the gov'ts are getting involved. You can't station active duty personnel on a ship without a government. But the first suggestion is the best. Private security teams.

On the other hand, this is the most obvious answer and is what has been talked about for years, since the very beginning of this rash of modern piracy from Somalia. But yet, it's not been done. I think it's insanity, that it hasn't been done. That is the way that ships have been protected, since the days of yore, and tall ships. Bring back the cutlass, if nothing else, for each crewmember!

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#35
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:44 PM

I said more liberal in reference to the degree of objective severity, not in reference to a political organization. Thanx

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#37
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:51 PM

I apologize. I thought "more" was being used to denote quantity, not degree of.

I'm oversensitive regarding the subject I discussed. I see too much of it.

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#49
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:40 PM

I was just throwing out thoughts, while the scenarios are different, the end result is the same, I don't care how it gets done, as long as the pirates get the message.

Call me crazy, but I think it's only a matter of time before al qaeda, or some other radical group gets involved and starts organizing these pirates. That would be big trouble.

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#52
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 4:37 PM

My understanding, which currently is only based on hearsay, Al Qaeda is already working some of the pirate groups in Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Philippines, etc.) where there are already problems...

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#55
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 4:55 PM

I don't blame them, that's what I would do. Regardless of whether the pirates hold the same religious views, the opportunity to become part of a much larger force would look pretty enticing...........Food, training, better weapons........opium poppies would probably grow well in Somalia also, providing much needed work to the villagers. Al Qaeda, actually will build schools too. Why the US and our allies continue to pretend these problems will just go away is beyond my comprehension.

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

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#4
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 3:26 PM

I agree. As I see it most of these ships were taken with small vessels. Which could have been avoided with a small force firing back at them. Give them something like an AT4.

What I don't understand is the position of the shipping companies to want others to do it for them. Other then the cost to them. Heck they could train their crews to do it. I'm am pretty sure most would rather defend themselves over the prospect of sitting in some hell hole waiting for some one to ransom them out. With 30+ ships that they have. I don't see ransoming is being done to quickly.

I believe until someone start shooting back it will continue. As long as they know they will not be fired upon by a shipping vessel and that they will be paid for it. What motivates them to stop?

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#5
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 4:02 PM

Nothing. The attitude that seems to be sweeping around the world, (governments), is that, if we just leave the bad guys alone, they will stop. That doesn't seem to be panning out very well.

At the same time, these coward politicians are refusing to allow the shipping companies to have armed men, or weapons on their ships. The shipping companies, at this point, are just begging for help.

There's too much ocean out there to patrol, and impossible to tell who the bad guys even are if they're just cruising along. The answer is simple, weaponize the targets, and put the people in place that know how to use the weapons.

Anybody that thinks these pirates are a bunch of innocent victims just trying to survive, is wrong. Any notion of that ended when they butchered the four Americans that were sailing around handing out Bibles.

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#6
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 5:42 PM

I don't see the politicians as the biggest problem. Anyone of the shipping companies can pick up and move to a country that would allow it. Not sure about maritime law but at one time. A ship out of territorial waters was entity of it's self. The captain ruled. The captain did what was necessary to get ship and crew back home. I think it's more on shipping corporations not wanting to afford the expense or the controversy. Armed and trained seamen or a guard force will cost them more money. Then comes the public opinion of the cowardly politicians when they do open up and kill someone. There will always be one politician that will stand up on his soap box. Condemning the actions taken. Shipping companies just don't want to deal with it. Just like the politicians they are not on the front lines they are not the seamen.

I think it maybe another issue is the ships docking in different countries and the legality of the weapons in that country.

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#7
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 6:06 PM

I saw a show on tv about this. If I recall correctly, it wasn't about being armed while out at sea. It was about coming into port with weapons on board.

The problem is, that many governments, including the US, (I think), won't allow it. So while the international community, (governments), sit on their hands, this keeps happening. It's been a while since I saw the show, but I remember being left with the impression that it was various governments that were tying their hands with red tape crap.

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#59
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 8:37 AM

I heard the same thing when this ships come into port the host countries are against them being armed, but there should be ways around that. Example when at port all heavy weapons are to be locked up in a secure location.

I agree fully each ship should have their own fully armed security team, and I feel side arms should be allowed at all times.

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#61
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 9:25 AM

This is nothing more than a global version of the gun laws that they are attempting/implementing here in the States and many other countries.........the good guys are disarmed, and the bad guys don't care about gun laws, and are armed to the teeth.

Having the regular workers on these ships, armed, would never fly though. It would have to be people that had been trained specifically to recognize and eliminate threats.

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#11
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 12:10 AM

Given the amount of ransom they are paying, it would be cheaper to throw the weapons overboard just prior to entering port and then have new ones flown to them by helicopter as they leave the territorial waters of the port nation. Either that, or find a country that would give diplomatic immunity to ships registered in that country. Maybe Panama and Liberia would be willing to add that to their registry package. Then they couldn't be legally searched.

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#24
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 10:20 AM

Why not just float an ordnance raft (manned, of course) when one goes into port, then pick it up on the way back out?

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#10
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 11:44 PM

Currently the nice Navy personnel catch the Pirates, give them a feed and let them go. No consequences, no incentive to stop.

The Govt of the Seychelles is taking a bit firmer line mainly because pirates have been raiding and trying to set up in their sovereign territory.

According to the Seychelles Govt, Al Queda are taking over the pirate gangs and organising them. They state that the window to shut the pirates down is fast closing.

There has lately been one European Surviellance plane based in the Seychelles but it was taken back to Europe for 6 weeks over Xmas. I haven't heard much more current than that.

The end game of your proposal (kill them) is the only way to bring about change. The methods of getting to that point don't matter so much as arriving at the correct point.

May I suggest another tactic (or alternate method of getting to the correct point of deterrence). Australia has recently (and stupidly) retired its F111C Fleet, even a few of those stationed in the Seychelles and "Problem He Go Away". Provided of course they use the capability to sink all pirate vessels including those operating from stolen Mother Ships.

To be more cost effective, (and keep sensitive items secret) the Pave Track Pods can be removed from the bay formerly occupied by the M61 Vulcan 20mm Gatling gun and the M61 refitted. 20mm shells are well and truly good enough for fibreglass boats.

It is not the Mach 1.3 at 200 feet or the Mach 2.5 at altitude that would make these old girls effective, but the massive operating radius (2500km should be achievable).

The Seychelles should have at least one strip capable of the 52 tonne loaded weight. I'd call that practical foreign aid.

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#12
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:47 AM

"...supply 4-5 currently serving military special forces personnel to each ship, from the country of registration."

Unfortunately, those countries with the bulk of the commercial registrations(Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands), have very limited military capabilities...

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#14
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 5:06 AM

I'm sure that's true. Here's an idea. Go with a private security detail, and the countries that won't allow them in their ports because of weapons, don't get any goods delivered to them.

The concept of not allowing them in with weapons on board is stupid. The people that run these ships are professionals, as would be any security. Any weapons would be available during deployment, and make it international law that they be securely locked up before entering port. Simple.

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#21
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 10:03 AM

Actually, the reason that most boats are registered in third world country is to use the lowest standard possible for the boat maintenance and crew qualification. (The doctor on most cruise ship barely qualify as a nurse in NA) While they need a few competent sailor on board (captain, pilot, chief engineer), the rest are just hired hands that couldn't find work anywhere else. They are closer to slaves than professionnals. They are often just looking for a better occasion to jump ship or abandon it once they get close to the coast of a developed country. If the pirate offer them a good deal, they are likely to turn on their own crew.

The fences around ports are to prevent sailors from escaping as much as thief from taking freight.

I mosts of the sailors are not to be trusted with weapons. I don't think that their captain trust them either. That is why he is usually the only one with access to a gun.

As for special protection services, the shipping industry is too cheap to pay for that. They don't care that much for the safety of the crew and the competition is fierce.

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#22
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 10:19 AM

I wasn't aware of that. So why are the pirates holding over 700 hostages? It seems like if the crews on these ships were just throw away slaves, they would be worthless as hostages. Why not just kill them and hold the ships and cargo hostage?

Is this incorrect?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_transport

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#26
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 11:48 AM

The insurance and shipping companies will eventually pay the ransom because they don't want to look bad in the eyes of the international community. It is people like us who care about the sailors that pushes them to do the right thing.

If an "important" guest was part of the hostages, they would not rot for month at the hands of the pirates before the ransom is paid.

The main concern of the shipping company is the cargo expiry date. Many of these ships are not worth much more than their weight of scrap steel anyway. That is why they cannot be registered in NA.

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#8

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 10:56 PM

I cannot, believe, with all of the Satellite technology available, the ship's manifests and the ship's current courses being registered, not only to their Shipping companies, but also with the Armed Forces of their Nations, that something cannot be done--That being the case, other than civilians being taken hostages, does a Soverieign Country have the duty to protect non -Governmental (i.e. Private) ships?? Is not Private International Insurance available for those purposes? These are just rhetorical premises--What do we do? And....Is it OUR problem? Or the problem of private enterprise? Would love to hear opinions, as I haven't a clue--Thanks. Mac

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#13
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:58 AM

The price you pay for most goods that you buy include the cost of delivery to the point of final sale. A part of that cost of delivery is the insurance the carrier must pay. While the goods you purchase may not have crossed an ocean, it is most likely the carriers who delivered the goods, or the materials that went in to making up those goods, paid into an insurance pool- the same pool that international shippers are paying into. When an insurance company must pay out a ransom or other claim, they do not pay it out of their own pockets. They increase the rates they charge for the insurance.

Ergo, your cost of purchasing whatever goes up.

Shipping companies, governments and insurance companies are not really motivated to solving this issue, because they do not, in the end, pay. We, as consumers, pay...

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#42
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:02 PM

So if I read your post correctly, you say the end consumer is subsidizing the pirates?

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#47
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:25 PM

Not just the Somali pirates. The end consumer subsidizes ALL business expenses, be they salaries, taxes, insurance, whatever. Insurance rates go up? So does the price of your new made-in-China 3D big-screen TV. The manufacturer, the shipper, the distributor, the vendor, the tax man, all are going to get their normal cut, no matter how much the insurance costs go up. Either that, or they find some other business that is more profitable...

The consumer winds up paying any increase in the cost of doing business. In fact, the tax man is going to be especially happy, because the new price resulting from increased insurance costs is going to give him increased tax revenues...

Let us examine a "hypothetical" case. Let us say that someone wins a mult-million dollar claim against a fast-food restaurant because our claimant spilled hot coffee on his or her lap while attempting to drive an automobile. Who pays? Not the fast food restaurant. They have liability insurance to cover such eventualities. The insurance company has been collecting lots of premium money for lots of years, but they do not just put this in the bank- they invest it, with the idea that the returns on the investment will pay, first, their operating costs (including outrageous executive bonuses), and, secondly, any claims against the policies they have issued. A big claim means they have to reduce their investment pool, which means they have less return on their investments to pay future claims (WHAT??? Reduce bonuses??? What a silly idea!). So, they raise their rates across the board. Not only does our fast food restaurant have to raise their prices to cover the added cost of more expensive insurance, every other business that has liability insurance will have to follow suit.

This includes your doctor, your grocer, your gasoline station, your educational institution. your barber...

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#9

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/03/2011 11:17 PM

I see an entrepreneurial opportunity here.

As a former US Navy veteran that served in that hell hole, I did quite a few ship boardings in the Red Sea to help ensure the arms embargo against Iraq. Quite like the way a ship picks up a "Pilot" to negotiate the Suez, there could be a mechanism where ship pick up a detachment of armed security personal to ride through the danger zone. Once clear, send in the helo to extract... then rinse and repeat... rotating the detachments from ship to ship. You could do this for a decent wage for an uneventful passage, and conversely charge a heavier fee if a pirate boarding is thwarted (engagement fee).

Why wouldn't Blackwater be doing this already..? This form of security mitigates the issue... which is pulling in to port with weapons.

I'm ready to serve this one... it could be a BLAST..!!

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#34
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:33 PM

That's a very interesting idea. I think one of the problems you may have with that is logistics. To protect every ship in that way, from every country in the world that sails there... the number of helicopters alone, that you would need for such an enterprise is enormous. And then the people involved would need to be the size of a small army. There are a lot of ships. The huge majority of them don't get attacked, of course.

On the other hand, if you just protected as many ships as you can this way, even if it's just, say.. 25%, that may act as a deterrent since they wouldn't know which ships have a team on board.

Bottom line though, as most of us agree, is BOARDING PIRATES NEED TO BE KILLED. That will send the best message of all.

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#15

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 6:26 AM

They should do what they did during the second world war, they placed canons and heavy machine guns onto a lot of merchant ships, this was highly effective, especially against U-boat attacks?

Another thing is, that if pirates attack a ship then they should not be spared, they should be killed, that would make them think twice before attacking shipping?

Xanasax

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#25
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 10:22 AM

Along that line, another WW II trick might help - Q ships. Take some desirable freighter ships, arm them to the teeth with camouflaged weapons, release phony manifests/shipping info and then sail them into the hottest pirate activity areas. Video tape the resulting carnage and release it on the internet.

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#27
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 12:25 PM

Ah, yes. Entrapment at its best!

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#44
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:13 PM

Hi Graycav, It was Q-ships that I was thinking about, my father sailed on one in the Idian and south Atlantic oceans, and he told me some great stories about what they did, and what type of ships they sunk.

Xanasax

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#16

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 7:20 AM

One well placed satellite as your eye in the sky to watch their ports for departures. Add in a few gunships that need target practice. And after ship after ship didn't return because they were resting in Davy Jones locker you'd get their attention. These people don't understand the concept of playing nice. You need to speak a language they understand. Once the money stops flowing and their raiders leave and never return the stakes will change. Currently they have little to lose and millions to gain.

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#17

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 7:43 AM

Plenty of room for them down here......And free heat!

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#18

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 9:00 AM

How about armed drones patroling the sky over the troubled zone. All that it takes to defend the ship is a radio message or a satellite phone call and the Captain points the laser targeting device and .........BAM. No more pirates. The ship is not carrying weapons so there would be no port of call issues.

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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 9:22 AM

I'm quite sure we have, along with other educated nations, the tech. to stop the piracy. the reason it was defeated in the early years of this and every other civilized nation is it became unprofitable. we had a few hangeroners who got there glory of the chase but it was stopped by the punishment, harsh but effective, to get the message across. Enough said on that point, we can and have the means to take several of these jaspers into custody, fit them with a tracking device and turn them loose and follow them home..What scares us is home...

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#20

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 10:00 AM

I'll bet everyone will sit up and take notice once the Suez Canal starts getting compromised.............It's only a matter of time. Why wait?

What the hell do they think the pirates are doing with this ransom money? They are getting more weapons, more people, and more courage. They aren't building frigging schools.

When I get a mound of fire ants in my yard, I try to wipe it out when it's just getting started. If I wait, the little ba$tards spread and I've got new mounds and colonies all over the place. There is no question of what to do.

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#23

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 10:20 AM

Has anybody listened to the words of the Marine Corps hymn?

For hundreds of years cities like Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers were controlled by pirates, with titles like "The Bey of Tunis" Abu l-Hasan Ali. These states were commonly known as the Barbary States of North Africa.

I'm not saying all these men were 100% bad, but they were notorious slavers and pirates, and fabulously rich. They had so many slaves that the populations of these cities today are substantially more European looking. Stories about them would be gory and juicy reading.

The way I see it the European powers paid them off, not ransom money, but protection money. The young United States didn't have much money.

Steven Decatur was a big naval leader during the war. Think "a real Jack Aubry" when you think of Steven Decatur.

Of course, Somalia and Barbary States of North Africa are different, but it's interesting to compare.

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#28

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 12:56 PM

Shipping companies should not be expecting other countries to bale them out when they register their ships in countries where they can avoid taxes.

Perhaps if they registered their ships in Somali the Somali government would preasure the pirates to leave them alone because they would not be making money to pay taxes if they are tied up in some port.

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:00 PM

In Somalia the Government and the Pirates are one.

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#30

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:01 PM

There could possibly be an accidental discharge (caused be the confusion of an attack) of light aromatic hydrocarbons with accidental ignition.

I smell pirate burning!

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#31
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:04 PM

Do I smell BBQ?

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#33

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:28 PM

For piracy to be suppressed, two things have to change:

1. The shipping companies have to take their protection into their own hands. The reasons are obvious: too many pirates, too much ocean, too many ships to protect. Not to mention that the attackers have the initiative.

2. Laws and regulations have to change to make it possible for merchant ships to defend themselves. As matters now stand, there are very few ports where an armed merchant vessel can call, and even there it's a monumental hassle. Remember that a modern merchant ship costs thousands of dollars in overhead every day. Even a mild delay can make a profitable voyage a losing proposition.

Merchant crews have traditionally been reluctant to undertake their own defense. That simply has to change, but it won't until the shipping companies and the port authorities both send a clear and consistent message that it's okay.

My favorite weapons for defense against pirate boats: flamethrowers. They can be permanently mounted on decks or on the wings of the bridge, and could even be remotely trained from a central control room. The "ammunition" is fuel oil, which any commercial vessel is likely to have quite a bit of, and a thickening agent which could be stored in barrels and automatically mixed in just before use. Fire is a terrifying weapon, and it might be easier to "sell" this weapon to port authorities than weapons firing projectiles.

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#36
In reply to #33

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 1:49 PM

Your flame-thrower idea has merit, but ignores a critical aspect of the pirate tactic. Pirates approaching a large ship in a small boat rely on surprise. All too often, they are already on the vessel under attack before anyone on board is aware anything. When you are on watch on the bridge, chances are your radar is not going to pick up a small, fast craft approaching, and you are quite a ways away from the water- these pirate launches are pretty hard to see, even from the deck of a modern ship.

Furthermore, how many innocent artisan fishermen are you allowed to fry as collateral damage? True, there probably aren't a whole lot of fishermen working out of Somalia these days, but this is not true in other pirate hotspots that don't get nearly the news coverage these days- the Straits of Malacca, for example.

But, then again, artisan fishing is a dying profession, since the big commercial fishing operations are stripping all the fish from the sea...Which is one of the reasons fishermen are turning to piracy in Somalia...

This is starting to get confusing...

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#38
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 2:02 PM

Is that a fact? To tell ya the truth, I didn't expect "surprise" to be one of their major weapons. I have always been under the assumption that it was a very rare thing, that any vessel, big or small, can "sneak up" on any ship at sea. I mean, seriously, you can see for miles and there is nothing to hide behind. So you are saying that modern radar is useless against a small boat?? I supposed that a dinghy that can carry two guys might be able to pretend it's a wave or a whale, to radar. But a craft big enough to carry a force strong enough to threaten an entire crew?

I'm not disagreeing, I simply didn't know that. What, with the time and commotion that it takes to actually board and all, I didn't think surprise was that big a factor.

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#39
In reply to #38

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 2:20 PM

The Stark had a hole blown into it by what was basically a Bass Boat with a bomb on it. These pirates use a couple small boats that will hold 6 or eight guys. They don't show up on radar. A handful of guys with automatic weapons can very quickly take over a ship with an unarmed crew. If they were spotted its unlikely much could be done by an unarmed crew anyway short of using fire hoses to spray them off. The small boats can outrun and outmanuver most of the big guys.

A well trained armed security crew is by far the best and cheapest answer. If a company wanted to cut how much it costs, rotate them from ship to ship so the pirates never new whether they would encounter one or not. Like the sign on the junk yard. "Guarded by Dobermans three days a week. Is this your lucky day?"

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#40
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 2:26 PM

Well, the Stark was in port. But I hear what you're saying.

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#103
In reply to #39

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

11/04/2017 2:20 AM

I guess you haven't watched the Youtube videos with a small number of armed men making chutney out of multiple attacking boats.

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#41
In reply to #38

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 2:35 PM

When I was sailing about the ocean in my small sloop, one of the biggest dangers I faced was being run over by a big ship. No- small, especially plastic, boats do not show up well on radar. Pirate crews are usually very small- and they use small boats (although there have been more and more of these being launched from "mother ships"). Once the pirates are on board, it is pretty much all over, since they are the only ones with arms. Surprise is necessary to get onto the vessel in the first place.

If you see them coming, it is pretty easy to keep them from getting on board. They usually need something like grappling hooks and lines to get up high enough to enter the vessel- and when they are climbing ropes, they don't have much opportunity to shoot at you as you cut their lines or toss their grappling hooks overboard.

This is not like the pirate movies where the ship is taken over by an overwhelming force- usually, the boarding party is only 4 to 6 people- armed with automatic weapons, usually.

It is not easy to see anything small from the bridge- you are quite a ways above the water, and small boats appear and disappear frequently behind waves. If you aren't looking at exactly the right spot at exactly the right time, you can easily miss one. Furthermore, once the attackers get close in, you can't see over the side...Usually, once they get on board, their first target is the bridge- once they have control of the bridge, they have control of the ship.

The story of the ship that was rescued from pirates by the Navy Seal sharpshooters had some pretty good information about pirate tactics. What blew the pirates' game in that case was the Captain shut down the engine, and the engineers locked themselves in some sort of compartment, so there was no one to force to restart the engines...

The sail boat recently hijacked where the cruisers were murdered is a bit different- a sail boat is not going to outrun a pirate launch. There was most likely also an element of surprise in this case as well. Unfortunately, most yacht hijackings don't make the international news. They just disappear, with the vessel maybe showing up shortly thereafter being used to run contraband...

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#102
In reply to #36

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

11/04/2017 12:53 AM

For a night attack, poor radar coverage is a problem, but MOST of these attacks occur in daylight! At night, floodlights mounted low on the hull could be useful, if needed.

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#60
In reply to #33

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 8:47 AM

How about high pressure water cannons? They would ever have to worry about ammo.

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#62
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 10:18 AM

Water cannons already are available and already are used. They are relatively ineffective in this case, for several reasons.

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 10:54 AM

I thought you wanted something outside the box. Using engineering skills instead of guns so why not high pressure water cannons? It would solve the concerns about arming the crew and the issues with port. Very little training just point and fire. Plus I'm sure they can work something into the insurance to help pay for them saying they are for fire protection. Also unlike a flame thrower which is as dangerous to the host ship as it is to the pirates boats, a water cannon is all positives.

The ships already have a couple on them and the are design to put fires out on the ship. Why not design them like gun turrets on the sides of the ship designed to sink small boats or to blast personnel off of one? The Japanese have some wicked designs which can incapacitate a person, knock them clean off the boat, and if need be sink the other ship.

Most of these pirates are kids. You show them any sign of resistance and force they are going to buckle.

There are other things they could add anti-boarding devices cable nets held at angle away from the ships deck. The have sonar guns that can knock people out.

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#65
In reply to #63

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 3:54 PM

There are lots of ways to stop them........ if you see them coming. If they sneak up in the middle of the night though, and manage to get on board........it's over.

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#66
In reply to #65

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 4:17 PM

OK. You point is????

I'm confused what's your engineering alternative to guns here, or are you saying the only defense is to go on the offense.

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#67
In reply to #66

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 4:34 PM

Much of the discussion has focused on engagement rather than detection/deterrence. Many of the suggestions offer valid options, IF you are aware that you are targeted by pirates with sufficient time to prepare your defense. Arms are of little value if you don't have them handy until a pirate is already on the bridge with a gun to the Captain's head...

Successfully pirating a vessel today generally involves boarding undetected. All the water cannons, flame throwers, large caliber automatic weapons, laser cannons and whatever will do no good, if you don't see them coming...

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#68
In reply to #66

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 4:38 PM

I was merely pointing out that water guns, sonar guns, etc. are good, if the pirates are seen in advance.

My other posts were in response to the blog. The blogger wasn't looking for an alternative to guns. I think guns will work just fine. Big ones.

I'll try to do some thinking on an engineering alternative, but off the top of my head, I can't think of anything more cost effective, or efficient, than some big guns and dead pirates........especially considering the possibility that Al Qaeda may be recruiting them.

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#70
In reply to #68

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 4:53 PM

Their are many defences that can be used I've seen on several ships like I mentioned able an anti-boarding nets the are made of heavey cable and held at an angle from the side of the ship. Ships can install improved radar, motion detection, lasers, etc. The best would be more vigalent crew members. Big guns are a nice deterant but if your crew is asleep at the wheel their kind of useless.

Personnel I'm more in favor of a ready action team on board the ship as stated before.

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#73
In reply to #70

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 6:48 PM

Me too. As bad as it sounds, blowing some of them to hell will actually save lives in the long run.............both crew members and pirates.

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#74
In reply to #73

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 7:10 PM

Sure, I agree with that. I bet most of us would agree that deadly force is the most effective. But the truth of the matter is... it's probably not going to happen; for several reasons. So It's not really a practical suggestion.

For one thing, there is the political correctness that goes along with arming every crew in the international shipping community. It ain't gonna happen. For another, these crew members sign on to be merchant seamen. Not killers. Most people, besides those that enlist in a military or some security employment, would not be able to shoot to kill, unless they are cornered and have no choice. Even then, it's still a heluva lot more dangerous than locking yourself in a "safe room". Third, despite the cost of paying ransom, shipping companies are reluctant to pay professional armed guards on every single ship they have. And finally, there is the weapons restrictions in port, that is not going to go away.

So discussing the effectiveness of blowing away the pirates by arming the ships... it's nice to think about, but it's just not gonna happen. Nor will, going into Somalia and taking them out with bombs or whatever. Those suggestions are just mired down in international politics, and just are not going to happen.

That's why I've been suggesting alternative remedies of physical deterrents, built into the ships themselves. Practical and realistic solutions that may catch on, and may result in an economic windfall if someone is able to design something that is universally accepted, and able to be used by everyone. We need an invention.

This is an Engineering forum, afterall...

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#76
In reply to #74

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 7:48 PM

I'm on the case.

For some reason I'm thinking jelly fish. See how they protect themselves and how to replicate that on a large scale. Some of them you don't want to get near.

Electric tentacles? Shoot from port holes triggered by touch or infra red sensors. Make them twitch for a while. The coppers here use them on half drunks.

Just more of them, at a favorable height. Maybe placed in a conduit, displaying warning signs or even lights so they can see this target is a "jelly fish", we better stay out of the way. Then put these conduits (imitations) around other ships and they know not which is what.

To take them out they need to get close enough to shoot and that is a noisy affair.

Anyway

I'll sleep over it, Ky.

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#77
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 7:59 PM

Yeah. I kinda pictured something like that too. But we have to remember that whatever we come up with... the pirates weapon of choice these days is the RPG. So it needs to be somewhat RPG proof.

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#78
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 9:12 PM

I thought it was them coming on board unnoticed which was the main issue and holding a gun to the Skippers head. Isn't that what the challenge is, making it harder for them to get on board?

Once they off load the RPG's it's over and the safe room could be used. They still have to get on board though. Needs more thinking about and I'm not over it, yet, Ky.

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#79
In reply to #74

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/08/2011 6:48 AM

Well, you've heard my blow them to hell argument. Now I'll reveal what I'd really like to see, unfortunately, I'm sure it's too late. This also is non engineering, (well some), but would have been the cheapest and most effective of all.

I would have liked to have seen the international community get involved in Somalia, (before the pirates), and provide education, fresh water, teach them sustainable farming practices, help them restore the fisheries and fish in a sustainable way, eco-tourism, etc. This also would have involved taking out the warlords.

The people that are now pirates, could have been working for the Somali coast guard, and protecting the coast and fisheries on which they depend.

I wonder how long until Al Qaeda starts a recruiting drive in Haiti?

It's really unfortunate that the UN is such a spineless, do nothing organization.

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#82
In reply to #79

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/08/2011 9:51 AM

There are those who would argue that it was interference from the International community that originally destroyed traditional agricultural approaches, resulting in the loss of folk knowledge which made it impossible for Somalians to pursue traditional means of support and survival.

Compare this to the impact on Haitian agriculture a few years ago, when the US started dumping cheap rice on their market, making it impossible for the local Haitian farmer to make a living at raising his own rice...

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#84
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/08/2011 10:24 AM

Agreed. There is no way to know the things that are going on in the world that we know nothing about. I wouldn't be surpised if most of it was destructive in some way, to somebody.

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#75
In reply to #73

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 7:16 PM

Deterrance (blowing them to hell) is best to be sure. Unfortunately the opportunity for deterrance may be almost over if the usually reliable accounts of Al Queda taking over the area are correct.

While the underlying issue will still be profit, the methodology is different. "Holy Wars", suicides and massed killings are part of the Al Queda business plan. From the point of view principal officers of this organisation the actual foot soldiers, be they pirates or fools who climb onto a bus with explosives are just fodder in their business plan.

The "owners" of the business are in on the joke and do not put themselves at risk. They utilise religion to recruit the necessary fools to do the dirty work.

So in common with most posters here (not technical I realise) I feel the time to act is now, while the actual perpetrators are actually still in it for the money.

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#71
In reply to #66

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 4:54 PM

My original suggestion was to try to find a way to keep them from boarding, not so much a way to beat them back. Something passive. A barrier of some sort that is simple, inexpensive and easy to produce. Something easily retrofittable on all the types of ships.

As I understand it, they primarily use grappling hooks and ladders to board. So... something that can defeat grappling hooks and ladders. A net perpendicular to the sides of the ship was an idea that is in the general right direction, but not quite effective I think. That might just give them something extra to hook a grappling hook on to.

What about some type of smooth cowling that could be installed along the perimeter that won't give any purchase for a hook?

Or the electric fence idea?

Or a ledge of some sort that isn't climbable. Too slippery? Too smooth?

Too sharp?

Too fragile, and replaceable?

Something that defends the same way as razor wire or barb wire?

Some kind of moving camshaft arrangement as a barrier? It can be activated when needed. Or something dual-action reciprocating?

Free-spinning long spiked cylinders? (think spiked logs that won't let you climb over them cuz they spin) Or smooth cylinders, for that matter.

Think ingenious, purely mechanical barriers that won't allow one to climb up a vertical surface. Or at least slow them down so much, that defensive action is viable. Or makes time for help to arrive. Maybe add a mechanical alarm or noise maker to reduce stealth.

Or something that pushes ladders away.

Or something hinged and heavy that can be dropped while they're trying to climb, then re-set.

Spinning disks with steel cable whips that can be activated.

Jets of hot steam, out of nozzles along the entire perimeter.

I wasn't thinking weapon, so much. But a barrier. Simple. Retrofittable.

There you go. There's a whole bunch of food for thought.

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#43

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:06 PM

Pretty much everyone here is saying we should put armed guards on board, or some variation thereof.

Let's approach this from a different angle. We're engineers! Surely we can come up with some kind of physical deterrent that can foil the very low tech techniques of these pirates. Something cost efficient, simple (i.e. KISS), marketable and effective, that won't interfere with normal in-port activities. Something attached along the top perimeter of the ship, for instance. Something passive might be best. Or something reactive.

What about a simple design change that prevents grappling hooks? Or ladders?

Did anyone see the movie Open Water II? The fools all went for a swim off their yacht, and no one remembered to drop a ladder. They all drowned alongside their boat.

Hmm...

What say you?

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#45
In reply to #43

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:15 PM

An electric fence that they would have to traverse as they climbed up might be effective.

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#46
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:21 PM

It's far harder to defeat a 50 caliber round traveling above the speed of sound.

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#48
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:25 PM

Granted. Unfortunately, the port restrictions are doing that.

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#51
In reply to #45

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 4:13 PM

How about this? It might not be classified legally as a 'weapon'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_weapon

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#56
In reply to #43

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 5:06 PM

Never saw the movie but it is happening inside mt head. Yep it's final Mate, it's final!

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#50

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 3:52 PM

I had a friend, years ago, with a boat big enough to go from South Carolina to the Carribbean and he claimed anyone venturing into open water without an automatic weapon was asking to become shark food. The farther south you went the more dangerous it got.

Drug runners were killing everyone on board and using the boats for smuggling. Less financial impact if the Coast Guard impounds something that was never really theirs.

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#53

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 4:46 PM

Sorry gentlemen for doing this copy/paste for the first time. This is what Wiki says about a point I would like to make. I'll leave further reading to interested parties.

Quote:

Somalia has untapped reserves of numerous natural resources, including uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt and natural gas.[2] Due to its proximity to the oil-rich Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the nation is also believed to contain substantial unexploited reserves of oil. A survey of Northeast Africa by the World Bank and U.N. ranked Somalia second only to Sudan as the top prospective producer.[184] American, Australian and Chinese oil companies, in particular, are excited about the prospect of finding petroleum and other natural resources in the country. An oil group listed in Sydney, Range Resources, anticipates that the Puntland×106 m3) to 10 billion barrels (1.6×109 m3) of oil.[185] As a result of these developments, the Somali Petroleum Company was created by the federal government.

End quote

I don't think that these guys are going out there to have fun making some cash on the side. We expect them to act on what we have learned in schools and by living in a civilized society. It is a crime hell hole and the gloves have been of for a while and they are not being supported by anyone or anything but......

Just another failed communist state , Ky.

^^

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 4:53 PM

Ah, and another thing:

If I had a wasps nest and they would sting me and my family I would not wait until the swarm is out and kill them one at a time. I would destroy the nest. Offer them a better home were they are educated not to sting.

Once their mothers are in on it there is not much hope.

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#57

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 5:18 PM

Why don't warships get taken over by pirates?

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#58
In reply to #57

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/04/2011 5:50 PM

It's easier to go underground. You and your slippery questions .

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#64

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 3:02 PM

Today, it's been reported that a Japanese oil tanker was boarded by pirates off Oman. The crew radio'ed for help and then hid in a safe room. A crew from a US ship boarded the tanker and apprehended the four pirates that boarded. (should'a killed 'em, IMO).

The US destroyer is part of a multi-national anti-piracy effort and was accompanied by a Turkish warship

Safe rooms seem to be a relatively good way to deal with the problem. I seem to remember the same scenario on a private yacht recently, with the same outcome.

Hooker

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#69

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 4:50 PM

You have a nest filled with killer bees that hunt daily for food and you feared them. You wanted to eradicate as many as possible. Would you wait until the middle of the day when all the bees were scattered for miles and hunt them down one at a time? Or would you wait until they returned to the nest and as they came out the next day kill them off all at the same time?

If on a near daily basis they saw one of there boats leave their harbor and within 20 minutes an AC 130 gunship came over the horizon and blew it to pieces in a few seconds they'd reconsider the "free raiding" they currently enjoy. A couple of weeks of that and you'd have quite a hard time with recruiting.

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#72
In reply to #69

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/07/2011 4:58 PM
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#80

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/08/2011 8:00 AM

Now to find the nest. Could our intellegent source that captured the '4' shove sensors up their lower parts to their eyeballs and follow them home. Might even work on other things like drug dealer to find the buyers, someone lost in the desert or just,just,just...The electric fence would be quite well turned on by the Capt. and placed low enough so the passengers could not reach it.

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#81

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/08/2011 8:05 AM

Here's a quote from a report on the pirates:

"The conduct of a typical pirate attack has been analyzed[78] and shows that while attacks can be expected at any time, most occur during the day, often in the early hours. They may involve two or more skiffs that can reach speeds of up to 25 knots. With the help of mother-ships that include captured fishing and merchant vessels the operating range of the skiffs has been increased far into the Indian Ocean. An attacked vessel is approached from quarter or stern, and RPGs and small arms are used to intimidate the operator to slow down and allow boarding. Light ladders are brought along to climb aboard. Pirates then will try and get control of the bridge to take operational control of the vessel."

It shows that most attacks occur during the day and they are successful mostly, because they are apply to intimidate the crew. So it would stand to reason that if the ship were to give a show of force or at least look like it could defend itself it would greatly deter these pirates.

Maybe for those who don't want an armed crew or a group of mercs on their ship, how about fake armaments; or equipment the crew already uses made to look like a weapon. (i.e. a water cannon that looks like a real cannon)(a nonlethal weapon that would deter: paint ball guns with Butyric acid(rancid butter)). I'm sure the list could go on for simple tools that the average crew could use with out training or with very little.

But as state before this is only a deterrent not a fix all to the reason behind the pirating.

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#83

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/08/2011 10:23 AM

From the Royal Navy History Museum's "History of Piracy": "

"Organised piracy and privateering was finally ended in the nineteenth century. In 1816, the bombardment of Algiers marked the end of the Barbary pirates power in the Mediterranean. Dutch warships patrolled Southeast Asia, and the British navy attacked pirates in the South China seas. However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, lawful privateers were still flourishing until 1856 when the majority of maritime nations signed the Declaration of Paris. This banned letters of marque, and therefore outlawed privateering. Navies of each country were used to enforce this law. The age of steam also helped to end piracy as anti-slavery operations were now undertaken by steam ships. These could sail without wind and at great speed, while pirates still relied upon more cumbersome sailing ships. By 1850 there were only a small number of pirates remaining."

© Royal Naval Museum Library, 2002

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#85

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/09/2011 9:23 PM

How about this:

In every port one of these gun towers can be loaded into a tailor made space and bolted down or attached with electromagnets, 10 minutes job. Comes with specialized Crew to operate, maybe 2. The unit is dropped off at the next port, once out of the critical area and then picked up by a ship for a return run.

These loading points would be outside of any commercial area and could be easily operated from another ship. If you enter a port with it on board you are blown out of the water after one warning. They could actually be shut down by a computer code. Oh oh I'm getting ahead of myself.

The kites could be fitted with cameras of whatever kind. You could spot a rabbit a mile away with some sensors. In case of clouds you can still see further than any high flying spy plane. It would be a nice warning sign and tell them that we mean business too.

They are just lucky that I have no ship to defend, Ky.

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#86
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/09/2011 10:48 PM

very creative idea!! ga

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#87
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/09/2011 11:23 PM

I think if there is a will there is a way. I haven't even started yet and the less violent the solution the better. Like I said, they have mothers too, Ky.

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#88
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/09/2011 11:48 PM

1. The kite should be flown more towards the stern- maybe from above the pilot house, to give better view of the normal attack vector.

2. Rather than guns, just sensors, maybe designed to set off all sorts of noise alarms, flashing lights, lasers, etc.

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#89
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 12:10 AM

Good point. See it done, Ky.

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#90
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 12:15 AM

Better...we might be making some progress here...

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#91
In reply to #90

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 12:32 AM

I always wanted a military industrial project to work on. Would i need a security clearance?

If only detection is asked for I could do it faster. I'll leave it to the pros on second thought. They have the skill of climbing up greasy poles.

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#94
In reply to #91

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 8:58 AM

Actually, the US DEA/US Navy is using something quite similar- tethered blimps- to monitor small-boat traffic along the coast of Colombia and Panama (and possibly other regions as well) that apparently are quite effective at detecting the sort of craft I understand are favored by the pirates (perhaps not as effective at detecting wooden dugout canoes, another favorite of drug runners). So, the technology seems to exist. Now, how do we get piracy prevention to the same level of priority as drug interdiction?

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#97
In reply to #94

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 11:53 AM

Make it illegal!

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#92

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 1:29 AM

Here are some in action. I wonder if they use some kind of launcher for the hook. That's a hell of a long distance to throw a hook and rope. while you're bobbing around in a dinghy. 30 feet is probably a maximum toss. So mightn't it be worth it just to put up 15' more wall, with some kind of folding or hinged panels, on most of the ship. Then the few crew members on watch would only need to keep watch on a much smaller area.

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#95
In reply to #92

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 9:07 AM

Interesting photo- but that ship is at anchor...Much easier to get on to a ship at anchor...

Putting up higher walls may be self-defeating, since it would also prevent crew from seeing over the side.

One need not toss the hook- one can use a weighted "monkey's fist) to pass a light line which is then used to haul the boarding line up. Something like how they pass mooring lines to ships in the Panama Canal.

Of course, launchers are used as well- the US Navy has used them for such things as passing lines between ships for at-sea refueling- again, a light line is passed first, then that is used to haul the heavy stuff...

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#96
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Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 11:44 AM

I'm not following you cwarner. Using a light line to haul up the boarding line implies that someone got on board to haul the heavy rope up. Once someone is up, the rest is moot.

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#93

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

03/10/2011 8:23 AM

It was reported this morning that pirates attempted to hijack the Maersk Alabama AGAIN. This is the third attempt on this ship alone.

This time, though, there was an armed security crew onboard that drove off the pirates. Apparently a skiff with ladders aboard was approaching and warning shots turned it away.

Looks like somebody is getting smarter.

Hooker

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#98

Re: Piracy Prevention Ponderings

04/04/2011 7:22 PM

The problem seems to have 2 sections:

1. Prevent boarding

2. Repel boarders

1. To prevent boarding why not a horizontal strip of, say, 2 layers of razor wire extended horizontally from the ship's deck.

This should be arranged so it can fold flat against the ship's side when in port.

2. Repel boarders with water cannon monitors which can be remotely controlled from the bridge, aiming by TV camera mounted on the cannon. These cannon can double as fire fighting equipment for normal operation.

If RPG is used to make a break in the razor wire, a good squirt from the water cannon will persuade them not to board by pushing them from the deck edge into the sea.

If the cannon can rotate down enough they could also fill a stationary small boat and sink it quite quickly. If nothing else it will force the pirates to keep their boats moving, making boarding extremely difficult.

Of course 0.5" machine guns could be substituted for the water cannon, but this raises all the problems mentioned by others. The results would probably be much more satisfying though!

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