StrategyPage calls them “The Pirates Who Can’t Be Stopped”, while pointing out successful pirate attacks are down so far this year with warships prowling the Gulf of Aden and weather not necessarily being good for the pirate’s simple boarding strategy.
As I have pointed out before, completely stopping the pirates is complicated, but containment is possible. In fact:
Containment involves limiting the damage that can be caused by pirates. This can be carried out by naval patrols, convoys, establishing safe routes and blockades of pirate ports, the very sort of activity we now see by naval units in the area.
In the future, private ship escort “navies” or other techniques may be employed by ship owners to control the safety of their ships. If poor shipping companies can’t afford protection, then the pirate targets will be limited to ships that probably can’t pay much in the way of ransom. This will affect the pirates’ bottom line and screw up their business model.
Containing the level of piracy, while guarding against complete sea line of communication disruption, allows time for something to happen internally in Somalia that may allow that failed nation to regroup and control its own territorial waters and the operational areas of the pirates.
So far, with the use of armed helicopters as “quick reaction forces,” the time span the pirates have to act to grab a ship is being reduced and more threatened merchant ships are evading capture.
That pirates are sometimes “caught and released” instead of being brought to trial is almost irrelevant to the greater goal of suppressing their activities in the major sea lanes of the Gulf of Aden and offshore Somalia.
The perfect legal scenario of witnesses and chains of evidence in this particular situation seems to be the enemy of “good enough” if the piracy problem off Somalia can be lessened with current practices.
While it is too soon to call the pirates of Somalia completely “contained” it is also far too early to suggest they are “unstoppable.” There are lots of good men and women from a bunch of sea-faring nations, including the U.S., out there working hard to turn the recent torrent of successful pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden into a trickle or less.
And while I have argued that using an Aegis cruiser as a tool against speed boat pirates is a waste of assets, the sailors on those platforms and other ships appear to be getting the job done and deserve credit and praise for their efforts.
This post expands on a post on my own site.