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Thread: Small Wars at Sea: 21st century piracy

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Pirates Arrghh Still Around

    18 Nov. Washington Times Op-Ed by Austin Bay - Pirates Arrghh Still Around.

    In June 2005, I received two briefings from CENTCOM naval officers on coalition naval operations off Africa's Somali coast and in the Red Sea. Chasing pirates is a key mission. Stopping piracy protects African and Arab fishermen and shippers, so it's good politics. There's also little doubt al Qaeda has paid local pirates to smuggle personnel and weapons.

    Naval patrols off Somalia, however, didn't deter last week's audacious -- and unsuccessful -- pirate assault on the cruise liner Seabourn Spirit. Somali pirates in small boats attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. The liner's captain and crew maneuvered their ship, using it as a weapon -- it's big, and it generates a massive wake. The liner also employed a directional "parabolic audio boom-box." The nonlethal "sonic weapon" emitted an eardrum-shattering sound. The frustrated pirates retreated...

    The spike in media interest may give Jack Gottschalk and Brian Flanagan a belated best-seller. Their Jolly Roger With an Uzi: The Rise and Threat of Modern Piracy," published by Naval Institute Press in 2000, documented the rise of "new piracy," to include smuggling and maritime scams, and terrorists at sea.

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    An alarming rise in the number of piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia is reported by the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB). After a quiet spell of nearly two years, says the bureau, serious attacks by heavily-armed pirates have resumed: 25 in the past six months. In one incident a ship was lured into danger by pirates firing bogus distress flares.
    The International Chamber of Commerce Commercial Crime Services website actually publishes a weekly Piracy Report. ARRRR!

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    Default Thanks...

    H/T for the research link!

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default Small Wars at Sea: 21st century piracy

    Keeping the Barbary Coast War in the back of your mind, think of the threats to international trade that uncheck piracy could create - particularly if it was given clandestine direction, intelligence and material assistance from a group or government.

    Right now, the hot spots are the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Check out ONI's open source updates here: http://pollux.nss.nima.mil/onit/onit_j_main.html
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 06-06-2008 at 02:42 AM.

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    Council Member Robal2pl's Avatar
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    Piracy is one problem, second will be hostage situations. ferry or criuse ship loaded 2000-3000 people is easier to seize, and to defend for terrorists than airplane. Imagine 2002 Nord-Ost Crisis (in Moscow) on ship. I think that only few countries have forces sufficent to conduct such hostage-rescue operation.

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    Default U.S. Navy Boards Suspected Pirate Ship

    8 Feb Washington Times - U.S. Navy Boards Suspected Pirate Ship.

    The United States was striking a pre-emptive blow when it ordered a U.S. Navy destroyer to detain and board a suspected pirate ship in the Indian Ocean last month, aiming to see that terrorists do not lash up with pirates in the Asia-Pacific region.

    The destroyer, the USS Winston S. Churchill, was ordered to intercept the suspected pirate ship on Jan. 21 after the U.S. Central Command, from its forward headquarters in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, was contacted by the International Maritime Bureau, based in Malaysia. The maritime bureau monitors piracy all over the world, but especially in Asia.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Piracy has been on the scope for some time, but sadly it gets ignored in most news outlets.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Funny You Mention That

    Steve,

    Good point. I gave COIN classes last July here and I began with a short bit on history. Most students were surprised when I brought up the Barbary pirates as an example of small, joint (land and sea), unconventional warfare.

    The same thing happens when one talks about naval warfare and Africa; the immediate focus is on ports, sea lanes, and chokepoints like the Cape, the Horn, and the Suez canal. Most do not think of "sea control" as it applies to lakes (Victoria, Tanganyika, Kivu, Edwards, etc), rivers (Congo, Nile, Blue Nile, and White Nile), and certain swamps (like the Sudd in southern Sudan).

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    About a year or so ago there was a show on History or Discovery channel about ships owned by Al Qaeda. I didn’t see it all and was never too clear about the sources of their information but what I did see was interesting. If you are interested in the subject you might want to look for it.

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    Default Navy small wars

    One of the interesting aspects of the Sri Lanka-Tamil Tiger war is how much of it is taking place in sea battles. While the Tamil have been given credit for popularizing the suicide attack, right now I think they are the only small wars force that is actively engaging in sea battles that I am aware of. By sea battles I am not including al Qaeda type attacks like the one on the US war ship in Yemen, but an actually exchange of fire from one ship to another.

    There have been a few engagements off of Somalia, but in those the pirates were using RPG's I believe.

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    Default The Pirate Hunters

    Smithsonian Magazine - The Pirate Hunters by Paul Raffaele.

    ... Pirates have been causing trouble ever since men first went down to the sea in ships, or at least since the 14th century B.C., when Egyptian records mention Lukkan pirates raiding Cyprus. A millennium later, Alexander the Great tried to sweep the Mediterranean clear of marauding bandits, to no avail. In 75 B.C., ship-based cutthroats took Julius Caesar hostage and ransomed him for 50 talents. The historian Plutarch wrote that Caesar then returned with several ships, captured the pirates and crucified the lot of them.

    That hardly spelled the end of pirating. At the beginning of the 13th century A.D., Eustace the Monk terrorized the English Channel, and the European colonization of the Americas, with all its seaborne wealth, led to the so-called golden age of piracy, from 1660 to 1730—the era of Blackbeard, Black Bart, Captain Kidd and other celebrated pirates of the Caribbean. The era ended only after seafaring nations expanded their navies and prosecuted more aggressively to deal with the threat.

    Now the seedy romance of the golden-age legends may be supplanted by a new reality: as governments cut their navies after the cold war, as thieves have gotten hold of more powerful weapons and as more and more cargo has moved by sea, piracy has once again become a lucrative form of waterborne mugging. Attacks at sea had become rare enough to be a curiosity in the mid-20th century, but began to reappear in the 1970s. By the 1990s, maritime experts noted a sharp increase in attacks, which led the IMB to establish the Piracy Reporting Centre in 1992—and still the buccaneering continued, with a high of 469 attacks registered in 2000. Since then, improvements in reporting, ship-tracking technology and government reaction have calmed the seas somewhat—the center counted 329 attacks in 2004, down to 276 in 2005 and 239 last year—but pirates remain very much in business, making the waters off Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Somalia especially perilous. "We report hundreds of acts of piracy each year, many hundreds more go undetected," says Capt. Noel Choong, head of the Piracy Reporting Centre, in Kuala Lumpur. "Ships and their crews disappear on the high seas and coastal waters every year, never to be seen again." Even stationary targets, such as oil platforms, are at risk...

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Fascinating story and I think an often overlook part of GWOT. Col. Warden talked about this being a key part of any world wide counter-terror effort years ago. I thought that was pretty interesting that an Air Force Col. would recognize how critical the Navy is in GWOT. Any comments from the council?

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    RAND, 4 Jun 08: The Maritime Dimension of International Security:
    Terrorism, Piracy, and Challenges for the United States

    In today’s global environment, transnational security challenges—so-called grey-area phenomena—pose serious and dynamic challenges to national and international stability. These dangers, which cannot be readily defeated by the traditional defenses that states have erected to protect both their territories and populaces, reflect the remarkable fluidity that currently characterizes world politics—a setting in which it is no longer apparent exactly who can do what to whom with what means. The maritime realm is especially conducive to these types of threat contingencies given its vast, largely unregulated, and opaque nature. Two specific issues that have elicited particular attention are piracy and seaborne terrorism. This monograph assesses the nature, scope, and dimensions of these two manifestations of nonstate violence at sea, the extent to which they are or are not interrelated, and their overall relevance to U.S. national and international security interests.....

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    I was thinking about piracy today (i got my monthly copy of the piracy report). With fuel prices increasing the volume of intracostal shipping will be increasing, and I expect that the canal (panamanian) with their opening another lane will also result in more coast-to-coast shipping. Shipping is the cheapest forms of transport and one of the least legislated.

    As an aside I realized that I've never even heard of a Merchant Marine officer (the forgotten service) ever attending a DHS conference.
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    To err is to human... to ARRRGh is to pirate!!!
    hi everyone I'm new
    In regards to the last post I would love to learn more about piracy in this day and age, only because I've watched a bit too much Pirates of the Caribbean- hehe just kidding. I'm considering getting my MS from SUNY Maritime and hence find this topic of great interest. please let me know of any links or sources as were just mentioned. thanks, -Fishfool @ The Reef Tank

    like, where do you get this piracy report?
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 06-29-2008 at 03:05 PM.

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    The International Maritime Bureau publishes a Weekly Piracy Report online. They also publish an annual roll-up that analyzes trends throughout the year.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    That is where I get it from, and a magazine I get (civvy stuff) rolls it up for me too.
    Sam Liles
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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Fishfool, If you have not read it, I highly recommend the book The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime by William Langewiesche.

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    Default Pirates

    John McPhee's To Catch a Ship has some good material on pirates as well as shipping and maritime in general. It is somewhat dated, though much of what goes on at sea seems to have gone on forever.
    JHR

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    AP, 11 Jul 08: Global Pirate Attacks Rise
    Pirate attacks worldwide surged 19 percent in the past three months compared to the January-March period, largely due to increased incidents in Somalia and Nigeria, an international maritime agency said Friday.

    There were 62 attacks on ships between April and June, up from 52 in the previous quarter, the International Maritime Bureau said in a report released by its piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    "The frequency and level of violence directed at seafarers is cause for alarm. The abduction of crew and the increasing use of automatic weapons remain unacceptable," it said.....

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