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Bad Career Move

Every now and then, I've mentioned the growing threat of piracy on the high seas. It's a low-key threat, for now, but it's something that does concern me -- and ought to concern a lot of other folks, as more and more nations draw down their conventional militaries -- especially their navies.

The first major challenge our nation faced after independence, after all, was piracy -- more specifically, the Barbary pirates -- the original Muslim terrorists.

Well, it seems that some of the pirates off the Horn of Africa made a very, very poor choice of target -- a United States Navy vessel.

The USNS John Lenthall is an oil tanker that was sailing off the coast of Somalia when two small boats started chasing her, closing from the stern. The Navy security team on board fired off warning shots when the would-be pirates came within 400 yards of the Lenthall.

(For those who don't understand the distinction, the letters "USS" stand for United States Ship, and indicate a naval warship. "USNS" means United States Naval Ship, meaning non-commissioned ships belonging to the Navy, but largely crewed by civilians.)

Pirates ain't romantic swashbucklers. They're roughly analogous to organized criminals and terrorists who work the seas, and they are a constantly growing threat to the freedom of the seas. They are considered the enemy of every nation, of every warship, no matter where they prey. It is one of the few areas where "international law" actually applies, and means something.

I find myself hoping that this attack on a United States Navy ship will finally be the clarion call that we need.


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Comments (17)

What's the the fucking "war... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

What's the the fucking "warning shots"? Kill 'em and then run their freaking boats over!

What's the the fucking "... (Below threshold)

What's the the fucking "warning shots"? Kill 'em and then run their freaking boats over!

+1

GarandFan - "What's the... (Below threshold)
marc:

GarandFan - "What's the the fucking "warning shots"? Kill 'em and then run their freaking boats over!"

While I agree with the sentiment, the practicality, and legality via the Rules of Engagement for the area dictate the warning shots.

*boom*"Now, I ask ... (Below threshold)
cadrys:

*boom*

"Now, I ask you, was that civilized? Fun, yes, but hardly civilized."

Legality? Okay stay legal. ... (Below threshold)
Tbird:

Legality? Okay stay legal. Give them ONE warning shot. Followed three seconds later by a barrage that turns the f**kers into shark chum.

Okay, two "warning shots" (... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Okay, two "warning shots" (that's plural), then hose 'em. And don't say Navy guys can't shoot. I've competed against them at Camp Perry.

While I agree with... (Below threshold)
stan25 Author Profile Page:
While I agree with the sentiment, the practicality, and legality via the Rules of Engagement for the area dictate the warning shots.

There are no rules of engagement, as to where pirates are concerned. For hundreds of years, these people have been a shoot on sight priority. These people are scum and should be treated as such. As for the USNS John Lenthall the crew should have fired a salvo on a shoot to kill basis. I think that would have sent a message to all of the pirates, that the United States Navy is no one to fool with.

GrandFan - "Okay, two "... (Below threshold)
marc:

GrandFan - "Okay, two "warning shots" (that's plural), then hose 'em. And don't say Navy guys can't shoot. I've competed against them at Camp Perry.

And I spent 20 plus years in the Navy, including 8 trips into the Persian Gulf and made many actual boardings as part of a VBSS (Visit Board, Search & Seizure) team.

I know intimately what the ROE is and a happy trigger finger is the LAST thing on the list

stan25 - "There are no ... (Below threshold)
marc:

stan25 - "There are no rules of engagement, as to where pirates are concerned."

Clueless much?

It doesn't take much, not with all the search capabilities available on the internet, to not look so ignorant of U.S. Navy operations.

Who among the enemy combata... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

Who among the enemy combatants would be around to complain?

I guarantee you that those ... (Below threshold)
ExSubNuke:

I guarantee you that those warning shots were part of their posted ROE (rules of engagement). Before deploying a ship (and during the deployment) it's drills, drills, drills, training, and some more drills for the fun of it.

I'm sure the response they gave was EXACTLY what was ordered/called for.

I'm still in favor of resur... (Below threshold)
cirby:

I'm still in favor of resurrecting the idea of the "Q Ship."

Small, recent model, harmless-looking cargo ship, with a couple of big boxes on deck (camouflaged guns in the 5 inch class), a few dozen Marines, and a couple of concealed boat ramps with some fast combat boats ready to chase down the bad guys when they run...

You could even run real cargo routes with it - just don't let anyone get a close look at the deck.

ExSubNuc - "I'm sure th... (Below threshold)
marc:

ExSubNuc - "I'm sure the response they gave was EXACTLY what was ordered/called for."

Exactly, and what preceded that was many calls of "You are approaching a U.S. Naval Ship, you are standing into danger....." over the International Maritime Calling Freq.

stan25, thinks he knows something, he doesn't. Not even close.

Pirates are not "roughly an... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Pirates are not "roughly analogous" to organized criminals, Jay. Pirates ARE organized criminals. I wouldn't even dignify them with the name "terrorists." Terrorists commit violence for political purposes. Pirates commit violence and theft for mere monetary gain.

Don't even make the mistake of thinking these modern pirates have anything in common with the kind of piracy depicted in classic pirate movies. They don't. They're pure criminal scum, somewhere down there next to the coyotes who take illegals across the southwestern US border, then rob them and abandon them to die in the desert fifty miles from the nearest town.

They are considered the enemy of every nation, of every warship, no matter where they prey.

Except the ones whose masters back them. Oh, you didn't know that? It's generally believed that the reason nations like China and Indonesia don't crack down more heavily on piracy in their waters is because the pirates have highly placed political patrons in those countries.

Most of us get our ideas ab... (Below threshold)

Most of us get our ideas about pirates from movies and Talk Like A Pirate Day (Arrr!)

But the best description I've heard was on an NPR segment on piracy in the South China Sea. The narrator said, take a guy who mugs you, or jacks your car. Put him in a boat. That's a pirate.

Why don't shipowners arm th... (Below threshold)
John Skeens:

Why don't shipowners arm their crews??? A couple of AK-47s per ship with shoot-to-kill orders. Problem solved.

The USN crew should have blasted the bastards out of the water.

Also, why hasn't anyone found the Somali mother ships? They need to be sunk, no survivors.

Am I the only one having pr... (Below threshold)
Pete:

Am I the only one having problems with this story?

First, what is a Navy security team consist of and what exactly did they shoot in regards to warning shots anyways? Not quite clear if they used mace, water ballons or a 5 inch gun?

Secondly, if the pirates could not be detained then where was the US Navy in regards to counter surveillance after the fact?

Lastly, how do we know that they are even muslims and not just a bunch of thugs trying to make a quick buck? If we really wanted to end this the US Navy has at least 2 oil tankers in mothballs that could easily be sent as bait with a trained security detail stop this once for all. This has nothing to due with ROE, this is just drumming up politics.




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