Navy to Fight Pirates

According to CNN, the Navy has created a fleet do fight the recently troublesome pirates off the coast of Somalia. The new unit is a spin off of a force that was already in the region fighting drug trafficking and weapons smuggling. The area is important for the US to protect because around 20,000 commercial ships pass through it every year.

Interestingly enough it seems that, for once, we aren’t the only ones fighting this battle:

The United States is among at least 20 countries that are trying to combat piracy in the region, including Russia, India, Germany and Iran. In December, German sailors foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack an Egyptian cargo ship off the coast of Yemen, according to the German Defense Ministry, and the European Union launched its first naval operation to protect vessels. That came just days after China revealed its own plans to patrol the Horn of Africa’s volatile coastline.

But who knows how long that will last once other nations realize they can rely on the US to do the heavy lifting militarily. But, for now, this seems like good news to me. The chaos we have experienced in international waters lately can’t be tolerated.

Seems the Navy agrees:

“The problem of piracy is and continues to be a problem that begins ashore and is an international problem that requires an international solution,” Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, said in a news release from the Fifth Fleet in Manama, Bahrain. “We believe the establishment of CTF-151 is a significant step in the right direction.”

The right direction indeed…

One Reply to “Navy to Fight Pirates”

  1. The piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden is largely a derivative of the complex problems within Somalia. Piracy in general, however, continues to be a global crime affecting all parts of the world and has been going on for centuries. With that being said, I share my opinions coming from a seventeen year law enforcement background in the United States. Piracy, like most crimes involve an opportunity for a criminal element to take advantage of. The entire world is now aware of the opportunity in the Gulf of Aden and how the pirates from Somalia are the criminal element taking advantage of it. The maritime shipping industry stands to lose millions of dollars due to the increase of insurance costs and the change in operating procedures used to traverse the Gulf of Aden. This does not even take into account of the associated dangers the crews of these vessels are subjected to. It is mind boggling that there are currently over 300 crew members being held hostage off the coast of Somalia resulting from vessel highjacking. It certainly stands to reason why the international community has finally started to address this problem in the Gulf of Aden with a military response. I do not however, believe this is going to solve the piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden, it will only reduce the opportunity for the Somalian Pirates to pursue their criminal actions. The maritime shipping industry will need to take advantage of this historical international response and utilize the limited time they have to improve onboard security procedures. Maritime companies expecting crewmembers to defend their vessels with high-pressure water hoses while encountering pirates armed with machine-guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers would not appear to be an appropriate expectation. I would expect the maritime industry to see an increase of civil litigation brought upon by their own employees if an unfortunate injury or death occurs during this unreasonable task. I also believe the maritime shipping companies are correct in not arming their own crew members with firearms to address the problem. This option would certainly create a dangerous environment for the crew and subject the shipping companies to a separate area of liability. I will add one more thought regarding what I believe to be a knee-jerk response of some shipping companies hiring Private Military Companies (PMC) to address piracy. The PMC’s are a great resource and supplement to military operations in conflict areas as Iraq and Afghanistan. Most PMC’s employ ex-special force operators who are the best at what they do….operate in critical high risk environments conducting military operations away from the intricacies of civil liability. No doubt the PMC’s could provide a lethal solution to piracy and deter pirates from their perceived opportunity in the Gulf of Aden. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I come from a law enforcement background specializing in Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT). Municipal SWAT teams are trained and equipped to operate in high risk events, while accountable to civil liability and public trust. SWAT operations are tasked with brining high risk incidents to a conclusion in a manner that will maintain public confidence and offer transparency of events. Modern SWAT teams have the ability to deploy both lethal and non-lethal munitions and tactics. I believe this is the type of expertise the maritime shipping industry should focus on when implementing onboard security teams . This would allow the maritime shipping companies to address the threats of piracy, while maintaining an awareness of the surrounding liabilities.

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