I have the best pirate guy ever!
I love how all the facets of the pirate discussion come together. Panels at conferences, posts on blogs, articles in the mainstream media, interviews with experts in the field, authors of books....
Midrats is an hour long blog talk radio program hosted by Eagle1, CDR Salamander and Galrahn of Information Dissemination. Their focus is the Naval blogosphere, so of course piracy would come up. Of their first eight shows, this is the second about piracy.
Today's episode "The Response to Piracy" If you missed today's broadcast, don't worry there is always the podcast.
The guest during the first half hour was Daniel Sekulich. Daniel had many great points, but for me, the important one was to dispel the "Robin Hood" myth. I am the first to concede that the problem of Somalia was left to fester through several administrations. Other countries violated Somali territorial waters by overfishing and illegal dumping. Certainly the international community should have stepped up and handled this very serious situation long before the pirate problem rubbed our noses in it.
But that time to act proactively has passed. Now we are faced with a serious threat to international shipping; to the lives and well being of mariners; and to facilitating international aid work.
What do we do? First you have to face the fact that no matter how dreadful it is to live in the desperate and lawless country of Somalia, it does not excuse the actions of Somali pirates. We can't let this stuff slide just because they've been dealt a bad hand.
Should we be working on this in the "Diplozone" as my most infuriating Democrat demands? Of course! Does it mean that the US Navy and private security firms should stand down as our State Department; the UN & the international community assist in returning Somalia as they return to a fully functional state? Hell no.
Daniel responded to a question by Eagle1 on paying ransoms by saying the up the ante and should not be paid. Although he did say he understood the motivations of the shipping companies.
CDR Salamander mentioned the USNI #WEST10 conference panel and labelled me as rowdy! What?
Mr. Sekulich also reminded us that this problem has allowed al-Qaeda to gain a foothold in the area. If we don't pay attention to this problem it will only increase.
The second half hour was Princess Crabby's own Pirate Guy. Doesn't everyone have a Pirate Guy? No? Really? Well they should.
So Kevin comes on with his unique perspective as the owner of a firm that furnishes private security for US flagged vessels traveling in dangerous waters.
We had Claude Berube, USNA professor; various bloggers and commenters; active duty, veteran and civilian in the chat room along with some lurkers.....quite lively!
Kevin responded to RADM McKnight's view on water cannons, etc. as outlined by CDR Salamander's recounting of the USNI #WEST10 panel discussion. He suggested we use what we see on "Whale Wars" to contrast the two approaches. The important quote for me was regarding non-lethal vs. potentially lethal weapons -
"You talk about a distance of at best, maybe, 100 meters, at these cannons. An RPG has a max range at 927, has a max effective range.... at 300 meters, you're going to be dinging with that thing all day. Now you're talking about the issue about, you're either going to have to put out a fire or your vessel is going to be damaged to the point where it's potentially slowing the pace and it's ... or they could have already impregnated the fire hose system that's used - that's around it. It's a good aspect in the scope of security, but if that's the end result, I mean in essence you've conceded "hey, we're going to stop at level 3 or 4 in the use of force and if it gets to that level 5, you know we're just going to stop and in essence concede the vessel". And really all you've done at this point is upset the pirates as much as any armed security detail would however, the armed security aspect has the ability to stop it. And we've seen it recently with the Mearsk Alabama round two where the security team was able to fire rounds and deter the attack. And we saw it with the Spanish fishing trawler, where the armed response has ceased those attacks."
Eagle1 asked about the controversy of having armed forces afloat....is it vigilantism? Kevin explained that they are there to "maintain that innocent passage" and reminded the audience that an American flagged vessel is an extension of America and thus protected by United States law. Having the ability to protect yourself from the known threat is our right.
The Biscaglia was discussed from several angles.
Kevin also pointed out that here in the United States, private entities - banks - hire private security to protect their interests.
In the chatroom, the blood thirsty Ken Adams mentioned Q Ships. I mentioned Letters of Marque and when I went looking for a link for said letters.....guess what I found? The top Google return was a lingerie boutique....and yes, I bookmarked it!
Convoys were discussed....warts and all.
It was very interesting and it doesn't end here folks.
Go listen to the podcast.