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Sky: "Government 'Underestimates' Somali Pirate Threat"

Old lessons to be re learned. There has to be a proper convoy system provided to the approaches to the gulf, and in the Indian ocean. I actually feel sorry for some of the poor cnuts that are forced to go to sea in skiffs to try and provide for their family's. Convoys, and roving escort groups. problem solved. Im sure Capt, Johnnie Walker is looking down and saying, 'FFS' :lol:
Not a new idea but perhaps placing properly equipped bootneck detachments in British Flagged ships might make a difference. It might even be an incentive to Owners to realign their registration policy. Perhaps the Owners or/and Insurers might agree to victual them free of charge.

It still needs a warship in easy reach, though.


War Hero
Err, what happenend to the idea of an Armilla Patrol style thing for escorting ships? Get merchant ships to meet at an arranged lat and long with a waiting sleek grey messenger of death and escort (oops, sorry, "accompany" - legal term so that MOD doesn't get sued in case a ship gets attacked) the ships through?

Obviously my lounge chair soap box is not privvy to the real reasons as to why this doesn't\couldn't happen.

July '87 Straights of Hormuz - had the chance to blow the whilstle for real. Thank you BOST for all those ADDEXs :)


War Hero
The solution to piracy on the High Seas is, and always has been to destroy their bases and logistical supply chain ashore - we have known this for hundreds of years but off the Horn of Africa are persisting in a sea-based "solution" which simply will not work.

If we need any current evidence of this, just cast minds back to the Tsunami and the immediate cessation of piracy in the Malacca Straits while the coastal communities re-built - no shore base = no launch capability = no piracy Simples!

And for those who point to US (and other nations') reluctance to engage in Somalia again with images of Black Hawk down firmly engraved in memories, the African Union forces in Mogadishu have recently banged in another request to the AU/UN for additional funding and have specifically pointed to that funding being an enabler for land-based coastal operations against the pirate camps which are funding the main insurgency in the capital.

Decision making doesn't get much easier IMHO


War Hero
To various questions about why we don't start convoys as seen in WWII, the answer is at least threefold.

Firstly, we don't have enough warships. The number of warships we have is vastly, vastly outnumbered by the number of merchant vessels undergoing passage through the waters in question. Really, really outnumbered. If we clumped them all around the warships we have, we'd lose more ships through collision than we do from piracy.

Secondly, if we start an actual convoy system, ordering vessels where and when to be, and what passage to follow, we take some responsibility for them. When things go wrong, this gets very expensive. As I recall, it is less than a decade since we finished paying for the merchant vessels lost in WWII. I get a headache just thinking about what the legal status of vessels that aren't remotely British in a convoy led by a British warship are. I bet it's not even defined in international law anywhere.

Thirdly, it would slow them down and cost them money. Right now, taking decent anti-piracy self-protection measures actually does an awful lot towards making a vessel safer (as an aside, you'd be surprised how many vessels don't bother, for various reasons). To merchant vessels, time really is money. Right now, the system is set up so that they can go at whatever speed best suits them, with some suggested timings of where and when to be. In a convoy, we'd have to go at the slowest ships speed. Many ships would not be interested and would instead make their own way, having made a calculated trade-off of profit against risk. These vessels would join and leave whenever it suited them, further increasing the risk of collision. I flinch just thinking about it.

I am sure there are more reasons; these are the first three that occur to me.


War Hero
As an adjunct to U_A's comment and a bit of a weasel around my own post, I suppose there would be nothing wrong with declared a Maritime Exclusion Zone for any vessel that has failed to register and report to naval authorities operating in the region. ANY craft entering that zone would leave themselves open to attack and could be "legitimately" blown out of the water (not so sure about that legitimacy in the context of international waters but it sounds good to me and would give naval forces a lot more leeway in terms of just hammering away at suspected pirates rather than havning to do the nice touchy feely stuff with the worthless scrotes.

Here endeth the latest version of the Broadside strategic policy discussion document


War Hero
To quote someone who knows about it, "The issue of whether and to what extent maritime exclusion zones are legally acceptable, however, is still one of the most controversially discussed in contemporary humanitarian law of armed conflict at sea." You'll never find someone willing to sign the chitty :)

The whole situation (not just an MEZ) is an enormous can of worms, emptied into a psychedelic rabbit hole. So to speak!

I think you're right about needing to take out the land side; unfortunately, it's in a foreign country with no meaningful government, which makes things tricky to begin with, and then of course all they need is a fishing skiff, some fuel, and a few knocked off weapons. There must be vast amounts of all three in the region, and even if not, their funding can easily resupply them across borders. There is no simple solution to this. Frankly, I think we're looking at nation-building to provide a viable alternative to piracy as a job; nation-building is really tricky, expensive, long-term and we don't have an awesome track record of this.


Lantern Swinger
Indian and Japanese navies and reportedly Chinese and Russian navies operate convoys along the IRTC in the Gulf of Aden. It is being done.


War Hero
A lot of the actions reported as convoys are actually just vessels making their way along the IRTC, with warships hanging around in various areas along the IRTC.

That said, some of the newcomers to the game are conducting operations much closer to what comes to mind with the word "convoy", although they tend to do it for chosen vessels rather than just anyone who wants protection. The Chinese had somewhere around 15 warships at work in the area, last time I checked; some serious point scoring there. I for one welcome our future Chinese overlords :p


Lantern Swinger
The Indian and Japanese convoys that I saw resembled the classic WWII convoy: roughly 10 to 30 merchant ships in three or four columns with 2-3 warships providing close escort. I was surprised at the standard of station keeping from the merchant ships.

BIMCO news lists at least Japanese, Korean and Chinese convoy schedules.

I'm not talking about routine IRTC patrols.


War Hero
Yup. It's the rise of the East in making safe (and thus controlling) the SLOCS. Control the SLOCS, control world trade. Control world trade, control... everything else?

The day isn't far off that the UK will need a shell LPG tanker arriving every 8 hours or so, coming right through there. We don't have the ability to escort them all with our current commitments elsewhere, so presumably if the area still isn't safe, these other nations that can keep the vessels safe will have us over a barrel.


War Hero
Uncle_Albert said:
Yup. It's the rise of the East in making safe (and thus controlling) the SLOCS. Control the SLOCS, control world trade. Control world trade, control... everything else?

The day isn't far off that the UK will need a shell LPG tanker arriving every 8 hours or so, coming right through there. We don't have the ability to escort them all with our current commitments elsewhere, so presumably if the area still isn't safe, these other nations that can keep the vessels safe will have us over a barrel.

Or should that be a canister?
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