Anti-Piracy Changes Coming to the Indian Ocean?

There have been some interesting developments in the suppression of piracy off Somalia.

China has been remarkably active, and successful, and now they are following the example of the Dutch in sending a well deck equipped amphibious warfare ship (an LPD, in fact the largest surface combatant in their Navy), along with a strong aviation contingent as part of their seventh deployment to the area. In the well deck of the LPD are two boats that look to be comparable in capability to our Long Range Interceptors.

The Dutch are sending a submarine that is recognized as being especially adept at intelligence gathering.

The US is sending a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) that has been specially trained to deal with pirates.

19 thoughts on “Anti-Piracy Changes Coming to the Indian Ocean?

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  2. Now why can’t the US Coast Guard send MSST teams or LEDET teams with the US Marines MEU(SOC) Teams when they deploy on the ARG groups. Put a two small or medium response boats aboard the ARG groups and copy the formant that the Dutch are doing with their LPDs and their small boats. Using the ARG as a sea base to patrol for pirates.

  3. Putting Long range interceptors on an LPD might be an option if it could be accommodated without damage.

    The DOG has already had people over there.

    There is also an indication that Marines are going to start riding CG cutters.

    • What about putting a DOG team or MSST team as part of the US Navy’s AGR group and deploy one or two Small or Medium response boats within the LPD, LHA, LSD or even in the LHD. I know the Dutch Navy uses an LPD as their Sea base ship and their command and control ship as well. Why can’t we copy their format as well.

      Here’s a thought, what if the US Coast Guard, US Military sealift command and the Navy teamed up to multi crew on one of those older Austin class amphibious transport dock ships and used them as sea basing ship and a command and control ships.

      • MSC already crews several USS ships (its called hybrid crewing) to include LCC and AS and formerly CC

  4. The shipping companies don’t seem to see piracy as a big problem as long as the pirates are not killing people. Check the last few paragraphs here:,-Military-and-Government-Officials-Discu.aspx

    The Navy reps have been saying this will only be solved on land in Somalia because the ocean is too broad and there are too many possible pirates. The cost of the the Naval response is far more than the ransoms and it has been only partially effective. It has become an embarrassment so perhaps, they are planning on doing something about it on the Somali coast.

    • Chuck,

      The cost to stop 19th century piracy in the Gulf of Mexico were equally high when compared to losses. The maintenance of a naval squadron was far higher than any booty collected by La Fitte and his cronies.

      The issue is not piracy but relevance. If the USN can show it is doing something then it remains relevant in a period of conflict where it has but a little role.

      However, the “Navy reps” are correct. The problem may solved only on shore. This is how it was solved in the 19th century.

  5. I still like the “Millions (now billions) for defense, not one penny for tribute” attitude. Back in the days of the Barbary pirates it was different in that they were making slaves of our crewmen as well as taking property.

    • Chuck,

      Jefferson, like the Brits and Spanish, wound up knuckling under and paid the ransom. Well, at least, USS Philadelphia was burned.

  6. I still think a relatively cheap solution is to put armed teams aboard merchant ships which go through that area. A section of Marines or Navy GMs with 4-6 M2 .50-cals and a radio to call in support would do a lot to reduce the piracy.

    There would need to be some logistical issues addressed like having a base at each end of the zone where teams can embark/disembark, and possibly some transportation between those bases to balance numbers.

    This would be for vessels who must go alone through the danger area, but, include with that a convoy-system for vessels which can coordinate their transit, and put a couple frigates with them.

    Combining these ideas will eliminate piracy in the current form. If the piracy problem is warlord-controlled as those articles cited eluded to, then all who say this must be addressed on land are correct. The problem is, we tried that once with limited forces and it didn’t work out so well. Get our NATO allies involved and the question becomes how many small wars can we fight at once?

    • Putting USG personnel on board every US flag ship would solve the piracy problem for that limited subset of vessels in the HOA. There are two problems with this.

      First, unless every country with flag vessels in the region did the same thing, piracy would continue unabated. Given the large number of merchant vessels in the HOA, that would pose a problem, because not every flag state has the required number of trained ship security personnel that we have.

      Second, both the CG and Navy have resisted the idea, because they don’t want to establish a precedent. Once the merchant fleet gets armed USG personnel in the HOA, the fear is, they will demand them in every other dangerous area of the world, quickly posing a drain on resources.

      Private contract security is a better alternative.

      • I agree. Who wants to be a seaborne rent-a-cop for every nickel/dime country.

        One of the purposes of the 1000 ship fleet concept (where did that go?) was to counter the then growing piracy in the South China Sea.

        The piracy will continue until the shore side support is eliminated.

      • Well, I’m all for the free-enterprise system, but I think armed private security people is a bad idea as an anti-piracy measure.

        First off, there is the whole entering foreign ports issue, and whether those countries will accept armed civilians on civilian ships entering their country. (Would the US let Liberian-flagged container ships dock in Houston with 15-20 armed foreign “private security” (really mercenaries – ex-sov-bloc spetznatz, etc. who are out-of-work)? Highly doubtful.

        Second, I’m not worried about stopping piracy. I’m only worried about stopping piracy of American-flagged vessels. If American ship-owners want protection, they’ll have to re-flag, pay our taxes (which will compensate for the cost of the personnel), and meet our safety and personnel standards. Overall, I think that’s a very good thing.

        Third, (again – only talking about American-flagged ships), if ship owners ask for help with anti-piracy teams in other areas, like the Malacca Straights, where there is known high-rates of piracy, I have no trouble with that. Yes, there’d be a drain on personnel, but the Navy could use some relevancy these days. The poaching of USN personnel and putting them in ground-combat assignments in Iraq in roles that were far outside what they were trained for, shows two things: The volunteer / “peace-time” Army, even with supplement of activated Res/NG troops is stretched to the hilt with two small wars, and the USN needs to show it’s mission’s relevancy in the post-cold-war era.

        Fourth, a drastic change in the rules of engagement would help as well. This really starts to engage the shore-side solution to the problem, but basically, if the war-lords want to eat fish, they better quit the piracy, because a cheap, fast, and dirty solution is to engage any and all skiffs or other “native Somali” vessels which approach any merchant or naval vessel with gunfire. No waiting to see what their intentions are. No looking for weapons. If you get within 400-600 yards of a ship, you get shot at. Piracy is an act of war. Let’s show them some consequence for that action.

        As far as a shore-side solution goes, it’s going to take years, probably decades. Somalia is an extension of the war on terrorism. The ICU and several of it’s leaders (usually characterized by the title “Sheikh” in their name) have ties to Al Qaeda. Basically the western world does not want to put itself in a position to have to fight three wars against muslim radicals simultaneously, so a lot of UN/African Union/diplomatic/humanitarian angles are being tried with Somalia. Meanwhile, the ICU/Islamic radicals are sitting back laughing at our ineffectualness while collecting millions in bounties (extortion) for pirated vessels. This is merely another theater in the war on terror, and it’s one we can fight simply and cheaply, if we simply recognize it for what it is and change our rules of engagement from a law-enforcement action to a military action.

      • Bill, I agree almost 100%. My only reservation is that we fire warning shots first. Then if they persist–fire for effect.

        It would not take many people to protect all the US flag ships since there are very few of them transiting the area. Most of them are aid ships. A squad of Marines, Navy, or USCG DOG on each ship would do nicely.

      • Chuck, I understand your point, and warning shots would make this tactic much more politically and, to some, morally acceptable.

        I think warning shots degrade the point that this is just another theater of the war on terror. What do you suppose those ICU boys are doing with the millions they’re getting from the bounties? It’s certainly not civic improvements in Mogadishu! They’re using this as a source of funding for more islamic terrorism. This needs to be done in a decisive way, and the politics will follow if the connection to terrorism is shown in a clear way.

      • Realized after re-reading I didn’t clarify another aspect of my point: Fishing skiffs tens of miles off shore with many men aboard approaching a merchantman don’t really deserve warning shots. Now, if it’s just a couple guys in a single skiff, I’d consider warning them.

  7. Mirror image of history.

    From the Memoir of Commodore David Dixon Porter (who’s dad was a skipper of one of the first revenue cutters).
    [page 271-272]
    “The captures made by these vessels had little effect in suppressing piracy, and in 1822, a large squadron was sent to the West Indies under Commodore Biddle. This squadron consisted of the frigates Macedonian and Congress, sloops John Adams and Peacock, and schooners Alligator, Grampus, Shark and Porpoise, mounting 178 guns, and with a complement of 1,330 men. This squadron performed the service required, with as much efficiency as could have been expected, under the circumstances, most of the vessels being
    _too large to follow the pirates into the shallow waters and secret retreats, with which the West Indies abounded. It was strongly suspected also, that many of the Spanish officials connived at the depredations on American commerce, finding it more lucrative to protect the freebooters than to give them up to justice. Piracy, instead of diminishing on the arrival of a stronger squadron, was actually on the increase, and outrages on Americans were more frequent than ever.”

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