Monday, April 13, 2009

on arming merchant seamen

There's a good article/essay in the New York Times about the pros and cons of arming seamen so as to deter piracy. It assumes, however, that all vessels and all seamen must be armed, if any are, which hardly makes sense. Our government's writ runs only to US-flagged vessels. There aren't many of those, as a result of the complications posed by American laws, lawyers, and unions. And the present threat is confined mostly to a single country. Why not put a detachment of American sailors aboard any US-flagged vessel coasting Somalia? The cost would be trivial compared to what it takes to keep USS Bainbridge on station. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

2 Comments:

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Griff Marton said...

Some thoughts: Is it possible that we are underestimating these "pirates" given that the area of ocean is so enourmous do they really just sail around and randomly run across vessels? Is it not possible that they are getting tips from various ports? They have secured several millions of dollars in ransom so they can certainly afford to pay for information. Also, would it not be prudent to set up some sort of convoy system? It would be much simpler than WWII convoying given that there would be no need to zig zag and a single naval vessel could easily protect say a half dozen ships. Of course they could only sail as fast as the slowest ship but the much improved communications equipment today would make coordination easier. And no need for radio silence. It would actually be good that the pirates knew that the ships were under escort. Finally there would only have to be 2 rendesvous points were convoys collect going and coming past the danger area. It would certainly be worth it to the owners to lose a day or so in sailing time to join a convoy as opposed to rusting off Somalia for a month negotiating ransom.

 
At 5:55 AM, Blogger Dan Ford said...

Yes, apparently they invest some of the money back into the 'business'--arms and communications gear certainly.

I suppose the main problem when it comes to common action is that the owners are insured and the risks are spread fairly widely. Now, if some enterprising Spanish judge ginned up a class action suit in an American court on behalf of the 200 mariners currently being held, that might get their attention. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

 

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