Thursday, March 3, 2011

Today's Lesson: Stopping Pirates 101

A week ago (although the news only broke yesterday), a Danish family's yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates. Three teenagers, their parents and the ship's deckhands are now prisoners. This follows the murder of four Americans, after pirates who captured their yacht were cornered by US forces.
These hijackings come as naval forces have finally become more aggressive against pirates — in January, Sth Korean commandos raided a freighter, killing eight pirates and capturing five. Then in February, Danish commandos secured another ship after crewmen locked themselves in a safe room.
In return the pirates have become more violent. In order to evade the naval patrols, they are increasingly aiming their strikes further afield, sailing their retrofitted trawler "motherships" well away from Somali waters and launching their sorties on smaller craft from there. Pirate captains have learned the lessons of being hemmed in by these international navies and realise the further away they go, the harder it is to be located.
Attacks take place across a colossal stretch of the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, to Madagascar and over to Indian waters. The Danish family had left the Maldives en route to the Red Sea before being hijacked near Yemen. The American yacht was captured off the coast of Oman.
But what amazes me is that many foreigners still insist on sailing in these danger zones - despite constant warnings. Don't they read the news? In the case of the Americans, they were on a global mission to spread bibles: maybe they put too much faith in their faith to save them. And the Danes radioed daily location reports to the navies, perhaps relying overly on a military shadow.
But these people had a choice of route. So why did they choose to sail there?
Fight fire with fire...ALOT more fire!
As pleasure sailors continue to naïvely blunder on, more of them will be captured. And while out-dated anti-piracy laws and Rules of Engagement continue to bind the military, the piracy problem will continue to grow.
Want an overly-simplistic solution? Stop the stupidity:
+ a complete ban on pleasure craft in those waters might be a good start.
+ sail commercial vessels in tight escorted convoys.
+ a fully weapons-hot military strategy (including surgical strikes against land bases) has merit.
+ urgent revision of international maritime laws, to allow navies complete freedom of engagement without being hog-tied by political correctness.
No More Mr.Nice Guy. Stop pussyfooting around. High-velocity steel is always a good deterrent!
[see also my post of 10 Feb.2011...]

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