Archive for the 'pirates' Tag

The saga of America’s private-sector pirate-hunting Navy is over. That’s right. Blackwater’s (Or Xe’s) Navy is up for sale–in Spain, no less!

Make an offer! Blackwater’s former flagship, the McArthur, is a modified 183′ Norfolk Shipbuilding Expeditionary Yacht. And it can be yours for $3.7 million dollars–so put your money down! There’s been a “Major Price Reduction” already, so this ship won’t last long! Here’s what you’d get:

The “McArthur” is totally self-contained, makes her own water, and has satellite communications systems that provide for continuous broadband service and satellite telephone. The vessel has a two bed hospital and carries adequate stores of food and supplies to support her crew and 30 additional personnel for 45 days without re-supply. She has the ability to land and fuel small and medium size helicopters and store, launch and retrieve 3 small craft up to 15 tons and 36 ft. in length. She has temporary sheltering for over 100 survivors from disasters.

Now, all this must come as a rude shock to those in the milblogosphere who happily regurgitated Blackwater propaganda or credulously promoted Blackwater’s anti-pirate Navy. Here’s an example of the irrational press-release-fuelled exuberance:

“…The French are already using private contractors for these purposes. This is the next logical step based on those calls. Unless the citizens of the US are ready to push the US Navy to make this a top priority, something that requires political action, this is seen as one of the limited but cost effective ways for the shipping industry to respond…”

Blah, blah…The only thing was that nobody in the shipping business saw Blackwater as a cost-effective means to fight piracy. And few in the blogosphere bothered to do their due diligence–most just joined in the hype and began braying away (it’s a distressing habit that extends to the latest topic-of-the-day–be it ASBMs, piracy, or whatever–beware those who constantly hype the popular programs and suck up to the powerful people).

Sadly, blog-hype was unable to compensate for a platform that just was inappropriate for the job at hand.

I didn’t join in. Rather than pass on media releases, I began covering the hype in October 2007, after Wired’s Sharon Weinberger broke the McArthur story. In April 2008, I noted the ship had been sitting for about a year, unengaged in anti-piracy operations, and by October 2008 began wondering why milbloggers still fawned all over the concept when it just wasn’t working. It all got worse last year, when, in January 2009, I found McArthur fighting pirates from a Norfolk berth.

And by May 2009, the ship had dissolved into something more akin to Animal House than a buttoned-down pirate fighter. But then what does one expect from a company run by a boss who, after reaping a political windfall, cries like a baby once the going gets hard?

Maybe, one day, a company somewhat like Xe might get it right. But in the meantime, let’s raise a glass to a defunct Navy, and hope that our navies (whatever nations you readers might hail from) can avoid a similar fate…

h/t Moose! (BTW–what are you doing shopping for multi-million dollar yachts?)

With Somali pirates attacking civilian shipping so far off the coast, is it any surprise they have an intelligence network? They certainly are making enough money to pay for valuable shipping information.

Fox News reported earlier today that Somali pirates are using “consultants” to help pick their targets. I guess consultants is the new term for someone more interested in personal financial gain than protecting the information entrusted to them and other people’s safety.

So, that’s one more area to defend, but also another avenue for attack. Identifying and incarcerating those responsible for leaking this vital information, thereby enabling the pirates, might be another step in reducing the pirates’ ability to locate potential targets.


It Begins

April 2009


“Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding the Greek ship anchored in the Somali town of Gaan, said: ‘Every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying,’ he told The Associated Press. ‘We will retaliate (for) the killings of our men.'”

Taken from here. This is an interesting quotation to me as it relays the pirate’s sense of entitlement. For some reason, he thinks that they have a right to seize property and detain foreign citizens. The man quoted above seems to be as sure of his right to rob as we are sure of our right to freedom on the high seas. I wonder what led him to think this? Perhaps they’ve been conditioned to consider it a right given that payment of ransom is the standard procedure of dealing with pirates. 

Anyway, we seem to be dealing with an ideology and not just a criminal enterprise. They truly think they have a right to rob, and it will take force to convince them that it is not in their interests to keep pursuing this “right.”