November 08, 2005

More On Those Bloody Pirates

The more details I hear about the pirate attack on the cruise ship in African waters the more it'd be laughable if it weren't so damned serious.

"Passengers described their horror as pirates in speedboats chased their luxury cruise liner at sea, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles — with smiles visible on faces otherwise hidden by ski masks."

Smiling. Well that's what any good predator would do as he's chasing down helpless prey.

"I was scared, I was very scared,' Jean Noll of Florida. But her husband said the experience was not likely to deter them from enjoying another cruise. 'We cruise all the time,' Clyde Noll said."

Of course she was scared. That comes with the job description of prey.

"Relieved holiday-makers praised the ship's captain for foiling the attack that lasted for more than 90 minutes, during which pirates fired their weapons on the bridge and elsewhere in an effort to cripple the vessel."

Foiled the attack? He ran. While technically the pirates' goals were foiled I wouldn't praise someone for being lucky enough to be faster than their attacker. Not that running is not sometimes a good damn option, but you shouldn't get medals for it.

Then again what choice did he have? Even though his ship was bigger than a WW2 Destroyer he either had no weaponry aboard or he lacked the nerve to use it. Probably it was the former.

But 90 minutes? For an hour & a half a cruise ship was attacked by pirates in rubber boats. Rubber boats! Now I'll admit that these aren't the things you buy for your kids to play with in the pool. But still. Even a Zodiac F-470 Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (more pics here & more details on Zodiacs line of military boats here) fitted with Armorflate "hard" inflatable armor (cool looking ad here) will only be good against 7.62x39mm & weaker rounds. A .30-30 Winchester lever gun could have taken care of both boats (assuming accurate shots were made). A WW2 SMLE, Mosin-Nagant, or 1903A3 Springfield would have been enough to sink one boat, possible both, without reloading! We ain't talking about the most up to date high tech gear - damn near any surplus rifle from 65 years ago would have done the job. & as I mentioned before, a Garand would have been up to the task.

In the Zodiac F-470 CRRC there are 5 compartments that hold air in the main bouyancy tube. That tube is 1'8" in diameter. If the boat was 100 yards away that'd be a 20 MOA target. Can you & your rifle hold 20 MOA? Actually on the ocean it's not as easy to hold on a target as on dry land, but I don't think 20 MOA is unreasonable if you do your part (I do admit I've never shot from the rolling deck of an ocean going vessel, so please correct me if I'm wrong). If you could hold 4 MOA you'd be able to hit the bouyance tube out to 500 yards (on steady ground at least). But even 10 MOA will put them within your range at 200 yards.

So if the ship would have had just one or two WW2 surplus rifles & someone had been able to hit a 20 inch tube on each boat a few times apiece then the pirates would have either been slowed enough to break off the attack or they'd have sunk.

That would have been foiling the attack. The captain hauled ass. Not to demean him as his choices were probably limited, but it takes very little courage to run away from something that's chasing you with harmful intent. It's simply a matter of following an instinct.

Again, under the circumstances the captain probably did the right thing. But I'd be damned if I'd ever sail in circumstances that make me view running as the only viable option when attacked by pirates in rubber boats.

"Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Monday that the attackers might have been terrorists."

Ya think???

Seriously, what is the difference between pirates & terrorists? A pirate uses violence for personal profit while a terrorist uses violence for political gain. I'm not one to label every bad guy in the world a "terrorist" but I don't think this is worth splitting hairs over. Call them whatever you wish it doesn't change the notion that they're not nice folks & they need to be stopped. Permanently. It's a shame bad people aren't stopped by running from them.

"Judging by the location of the attack, the pirates likely were from the same group that hijacked a U.N.-chartered aid ship in June and held its crew and food cargo hostage for 100 days, said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Program."

Wait - you mean to say that even though they got paid the last time they attacked a ship & took hostages they did it again? That goes counter to the succesful history of appeasing evil doers - I mean usually one good appeasement & they mend their corrupt ways don't they?

I am also shocked to find out there's gambling in this establishment.

Piracy is a big problem in some parts of the world. It's not helped by maritime organizations discouraging the use of weapons by captain & crew to repel pirate attacks. Some countries have very strict gun control laws which makes carrying the means of defense legally dangerous, which doen't help the situation at all. Private craft, especially the pricier models, are just as much, if not more endangered by pirates than commercial vessels. & if you think police response time sucks where you are now, try dialing 911 250 miles off shore.

Pirates know that governmental assistance (Navy, Coast Guard, etc...) will be slow to nonexistent. They also know that their victims are most likely unarmed. Is it that big a surprise that they smile when they're trying to run a cruise ship down in a rubber boat? They know if they can catch it, they'll win.

I still contend that the best way of reducing the threat of piracy is to reduce the pirates. One pirate at a time if necessary, but if they insist on using rubber boats, then by the boatload works too. One Garand & two clips on a cruise ship could have taken out two boatloads in a short amount of time. Damned shame hoplophobes seem to dominate the shipping industry.

For more on pirates go read Zendo Deb's post. & check out the comments to my Bloody Pirates Again post for some very insightful thoughts on the subject.

Posted by Publicola at November 8, 2005 06:34 AM | TrackBack

I've posted on other sites about this - they should bring back Q-ships. Take a civilian yacht, upgrade the engines, add pop-up cannon/MGs and maybe armor. Stick a small trained crew on it and go cruising!

Granted, this isn't something that can take on a U-boat, but to take out speedboats crewed by qat addicts armed with ex-Soviet hand weaponry? Easy peasy, especially since they come to you! And after you take out a few pirates, how eager are the rest going to be to attack that "innocent" little yacht or container ship?

Plus, it's cheap, which matters to the navies who aren't as huge as the USN. Australia, forex, can't adequately patrol its waters now with their fleet - and they simply don't have the money to build new warships just to chase pirates. But I'll bet you can build and crew quite a few Q ships for the price of one modern destroyer!

Everything old is new again. The old problem of piracy has returned, so let's not forget the old solutions.

Posted by: Cliff S. at November 8, 2005 06:26 PM

Cool Idea.

I also think it would be a good idea if Law of the Sea was changed so that it would be more feasible to arm merchant and private vessels - as was done in the golden age of sail.

The problem today is that although you can have weapons on the high seas, as soon as you clear into a country, you usually need to surrender the weapons. You get them back (in theory - sometimes they go "missing") when you clear out, but that is a royale pain for all concerned. Standards on "customs lockers" where the weapons could be stored while in port would go a long way. Of course then you are still vulnerable in port... which is a big part of the problem. Pirates really do climb anchor chains to gain access to vessels.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at November 8, 2005 06:55 PM
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