December 19, 2008
Fight Back with Whatever You've Got
Posted by scott at December 19, 2008 12:14 PM
While they didn't actually prevent the boarding, these excerpts from a Somali pirate assault on a Chinese cargo ship show that at least some crews are not willing to go quietly. And a big thumbs-down to Malaysian helicopter gunners. If that were me, hey, I'm out to turn those pirate skiffs into flinders scattered across the ocean, not just chase them away. Poverty and piss poor government ain't no excuse for terrorizing the seas.
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Makes me wonder what the international laws actually are. I can appreciate that the Somalis don't think they've other options, however, we just can't allow piracy. I'm thinking that we're stuck with some ROE here that cause problems.
To get around the humanitarian issues, I propose the following:
1 - All cargo ships in this area are allowed to have armed mercenary guards if they so desire. I realize that the rule is that civilian ships cannot be armed, so there'd need to be clear documentation of said merc status. Additionally, if one of these ships were then to be caught pirating another, the property and pirating ship itself becomes forfeit to the company being pirated.
2 - Active hijackers may be fired upon without prejudice.
3 - If they attempt to flee or surrender, best attempts will be made to stop them without killing. Doesn't mean some won't end up dead - just that the goal will be to stop them from fleeing.
4 - The UN or some other nation can then pick up said stranded pirates in a timely manner and prosecute them according to international law.
Unfortunately, that's pretty much a non-starter with the first suggestion. There's no simple way for the security forces to distinguish between a cargo ship firing upon a pirate ship and a pirate ship firing on a cargo ship, since most pirate ships are captured cargo ships in the first place. The pirates will quickly learn to capitalize upon this, possibly even by sending out distress calls to the naval forces if the battle with a cargo ship goes badly for them. As India has learned, in the information war, the cost of accidentally sinking a single cargo ship is far greater than the benefit of sinking or even capturing dozens of pirate ships.