Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Should We Hang Them From The Highest Yardarm in The Fleet?

From the highest yardarm!
Blackbeard Redux?
Modern day Pirate
Somalia pirates, 2008

Narco Submarine, 2008

The latest bold capture of a Saudi super tanker 450 miles off the coast of Kenya may be the tanker that broke the camels back. News articles across the world lead with demands for the seas to be made secure. This year 33 ships have been hijacked off the coast of Somalia. Over 200 crew are still held hostage and nine have been killed during the hijackings. In the 17th and 18th century, countries interested in protecting their sea routes would capture the pirate vessels and hang those convicted of piracy. Today, if a sovereign nation dares to fire on a speedboat of armed men, they are subject to being accused of shooting up the Somalia Coast Guard, a non-existent entity.

The articles below speak volumes about the problem and in the case of one, point out other areas where the high seas must be protected.
Tanker Capture Raises Alarm over Somali Piracy Associated Press, by Lee Keath and Jennifer Quinn,

Maritime Terrorism at Timesonline

And this article about another high seas problem.

The blogs have been crackling about this latest act of piracy. EagleOne who writes Eaglespeak a blog devoted to maritime security is one of the best sources for the latest in what is happening and what is being done to combat this scourge.

And as always Galrahn of Information Dissemination keeps all informed about the latest 5th Fleet Focus: Order of Battle

As you look over the list of ships, note those of the NATO Maritime Group 2 and those In Theater, who could be anywhere east of Africa. Out of those two groups, 8 are mine warfare ships and not on pirate patrol. How many of the U.S. 5th fleet are on this duty is not actually known, since they are respondsible for support of activities in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

If we begin to examine the role of our navy the past decade, several growing threats seem to be looming larger and larger. First, the pirates that operate offshore of failed states. Secondly the narco smugglers who are now resorting the subs to smuggle dope into the U.S. We have the finest blue water navy in the world, but our ability to combat these two threats seems to be of a secondary nature. We would rather plan for something like the War in the Pacific, than for the small wars at sea, we seem to be unable to stop.

I am no naval strategy expert, but it seems that one of the reasons that the Army changed, was learning the hard way in Vietnam and early in Iraq that you can not always plan for and fight today's threats with the formula used in the last war. Our navy has been riding the wave of total dominance of the seas since the collapse of the USSR. Today, we still worry about resurgence of those threats, while a nautical version of 4th generation warfare snuck up on us in small boats and blue plastic submarines carrying cocaine.

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