Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Arr, Matey

I love that somebody finally stood up to the pirates in Somalia.  First, the crew took back control of their ship, and then the US Navy used SEAL sharpshooters to kill the remaining pirates when it looked like they were going to kill the captain of the Maersk Alabama.  There are two reasons that piracy is suddenly all the vogue in the Horn of Africa.  One is that massive amounts of cargo and oil go through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden is a natural chokepoint.  The second is that resistance is light and rewards are big.  In exchange for holding people, they got a payoff from the companies who's cargo they were holding.  That's a pretty sweet deal.
Now things have just been taken up a notch.  While pirates have said that they would perhaps start killing crew, everybody's asking the US Navy for help.  Rather than the Navy, the shipping companies should help themselves.  The first step would be to actually arm a ship.  A good first step is a small arms locker with assault rifles and the like combined with training for the crews.  A better move, in my opinion, would be to forgoe half measures like that.  The pirates would still be able to outgun the crew of a vessel, and that would just lead to a lot of killing on the high seas.  Instead, because there are 2 locations where piracy is a big issue - the Gulf of Aden and Indonesia, I would contract with a PMC (i.e. mercenaries like Blackwater) to provide security on board in those areas.  It would be a short term issue where you could airlift some personnel to the deck and then back off.  This way you don't have to pay for them to be onboard when they aren't needed.  In conjunction with this would be some serious security measures - vulcan cannons, surface to surface missiles (or RPGs - nothing too big), and other heavy arms to force the pirates to either give up piracy, look for softer targets, or spend the money to buy more serious weapons.  I think you might find some who get in an arms race, but the majority couldn't outspend a corporation and after some serious losses, you might find piracy dying back down again.  I don't know why they haven't done this yet, but it's the most immediate solution I can think of that should solve the problem (at least for that shipping company).


Cheeth said...

This is pretty much what I have been thinking -- I say mount 50 cals on the bow, stern, starboard and port, baby. Then when a skiff with AK-toting lanky types comes speeding toward a ship, a few big rounds will convince them otherwise. Though I know nothing about this, it would seem that this would become a deterrent, as opposed to an actually used measure, pretty quickly.

Sorro said...

I would agree. I think I'd get some more powerful weaponry, because I'm sure that the pirates either have or could get RPGs pretty quickly. As a result, I would have no problems at all deploying something along the lines of the Harpoon anti-ship missile against them. That might be overkill, as they cost close to a million bucks a unit, but a quad-50 mount or 20 mm vulcan cannon covering every angle of approach, combined with armor piercing depleted uranium rounds would make the pirates thing twice about assaulting your ship.