Pirate Questions

Ah, I didn’t see that in the other posted links. (Which I’ll admit I only skimmed.)

And, the historical pattern of piracy has always been that at some point so-called legitimate merchants are involved with the pirates - buying pirated goods, and supplying arms and ships.

(Darn, I still would love to have seen the PHM’s used…)

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When I was stationed in Miami, I used to see those boats in Key West all the time. We had LE teams on board them for drug patrols. I once saw a video shot from a CG C-130 of a PHM stopping a drug boat that two CG cutters had been chasing for almost a whole day (about 1990 or so). The PHM came screaming in up on the foils from the subject boat’s side, and began doing circles around it until the wake made it too choppy for the drug boat to continue. That thing was un-believably fast.
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While I was in the Navy I was in training as a nuclear power operator. This is pretty complex, and mentally demanding work. And trainees don’t always complete the training - there’s about a 50% washout rate.

One of the guys in my nuc school class washed out, and transferred to Pegasus.

The rest of us still in nuc school all felt badly cheated.

I recall hearing about more than one ‘counselling session’ with our Class Director after that, where he told a trainee who’s grades had suddenly gotten much worse, that if they didn’t straighten up, he’d make sure they got sent to most Godforsaken duty spot he could manage - and that wouldn’t involve Key West, hydrofoils, or keeping their crows.

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Between Tapioca Dextrin’s first post and this:

I’m not starting a debate, but WOW! In all of the scenarios I’ve heard of, the last thing I’d want to happen to me is to be taken out of an environment I can at least fight in, and subject myself where my captors control everything. I say arm up, and fight back (if you can). YMMV.

But I see where the IMO is coming from: A) It’s the high seas. We can’t tell you what to do or what not to do [sub]we just can’t enforce it over such an area. [/sub]. Do what you will at your own risk. . . and B) We don’t want every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a 40mm Bofors Cannon on the foredeck of their sailboat. Thus, we “strongly discourage” the carrying of firearms.

Hey, as far as I’m concerned, do what you gotta do, cause it’s a long swim to land. I agree with Jake. Use diplomacy and some common sense, but have a round in the chamber if it fails. [sub]If all they’re after is a cargo full of marshmallows, then by God, let 'em have the damn marshmallows![/sub].

Here’s your $0.98 in change.

Assuming an all-out firefight leaves me with a 50/50 chance, I’d rather be taken hostage. Hostages (in this scenario) are taken for a reason - and that reason only exists if they’re alive.

You also seem to be assuming it’s an even match. IANA shipping expert, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a large tanker or container ship has only something like three or four people on watch. It wouldn’t take many pirates to overpower them, no matter what arsenal was available to them.

And you raise a good point. . . five or ten trained and armed pirates storming three or four quietly, the odds are against you. Even if they had common rifles and/or AR-15s.

I think my testosterone is doing most of the thinking, but then in that situation, my adrenaline would agree with my testosterone.

Well put, GM.

Gorilla Man has a point. IIRC, Container ships have a crew of about 20. Total. Tankers don’t have much more of a crew. And during midwatch there may be all of three people on duty: engineering watch; roving watch, mostly to check that nothing’s leaking water into the hull; and then the pilot, or wheel watch. Which is why I was saying that even a speed boat could sink a tanker, if that’s what it wanted to do, with just a molotov, by using suppressing fire to keep the crew from effectively fighting the fire.

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I was a nuke washout (disciplinary reasons, seems the Navy frowned upon the use of the certain green, leafy substance), so where did they send me? That’s right, down to Key West to chase drug boats in the hydrofoil squadron support group (PHMRON II MLSG). Irony can be fun sometimes.

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I’m still curious about question 2 in the OP. How likely are private sailors to be a victim of piracy? Seems like lots of folks pilot their sailboats across the oceans (at least the Atlantic). How often are they set upon by pirates? (outside the Indonesian areas, at least).

Just WAG’ing, it seems like most pirates would be involved in the drug trade and therefore:

  1. Fairly close to shore (fast boats aren’t usually long range) and,
  2. Not much interested in Sailboats anyway (not the vehicle of choice for drug-running).

Any one have more info about this?

I didn’t read the articles, but have talked to people who are in the merchang marine. Many, perhaps not 50%, but many of the piracy in places like the Malacca Straits don’t even bother the crew. Pirates board the moving ship using ropes and ladders, break into shipping containers and steal high-value easy to carry cargo. As long as the crew stays out of the way, no one gets hurt. And yes, many pirates don’t carry weapons. Not because they are afraid of hurting the crew, but folks these are PIRATES. If you were the pirate captain hold up in some swamp would you want your “crew” to have easy access to weapons? The captain on the pirate vessel has a weapon (I bet) but I doubt the boarding party gets equal treatment.

I don’t have any stats, but private boats don’t seem to be in much danger in areas outside of the aforementioned hotspots. The author of the book I mentioned earlier, “Dangerous Waters” was a lone sailboat sailor who was pirated, hence his interest on the subject. He gives a full account of his ordeal in the book.

Interestingly, the disappearance of some sailboats in the Caribbean in the '70s and '80s (sometimes blamed on the “Bermuda Triangle” garbage), has been blamed on piracy. The story goes like this: Sailboat gets set upon by pirates of the drug trade. Crew gets killed and dumped overboard. Boat gets taken to a port, outfitted for smuggling, re-painted, named and flagged and nobody in none the wiser. It’s an interesting theory, probably grounded in some reality. Fact is, sailboats have always been a very popular way of smuggling drugs into the US. This wouldn’t be much of a problem these days, as the Caribbean is pretty much saturated with naval assets of all nationalities - Europe included.

True. With many pirate operations, however, the goal is also cash and valuables from the crew. Ship type is irrelevant in these cases. The pirates know the crew isn’t armed, so often they’ll look to get inside the “house”, or the accomodation block of the ship. The latest strategy on the part of shipping, aside from keeping pirates off the ship to begin with, is the “Citadel” approach. Basically, lock down the entire superstructure so the pirates can’t get in. This is not an easy task, especially considering that ships needs windows in certain spots. Another dilema facing shipping is whether or not they should keep cash on board because of pirates. (Ships usually have varied amounts of cash on board) The problem is this: Put lots of money on the ship for pirates and possibly save the masters life, but you encourage the pirates. Don’t put any money on ships, and the master and mates will be beaten or tortured until he tells them where the (non-existent) cash is. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

It really is an ugly problem that’s getting worse in an environment where life is cheap.