U.S. Navy should do more to fight high-seas piracy

See this article:


With the Navy virtually unchallenged on the high seas nowadays, this is just what I’d like to see it doing more of. Piracy is a huge problem right now, particularly off the coast of Somalia, and around Indonesia and some of the western Pacific islands.

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Navy establish a “Q-ship” program, too, like the Brits had in WWI, with small, ratty-looking tramp steamers covertly armed to the teeth, taking on pirates when they attack.

What say you?

I’d say “That’s what we have the Coast Guard for.”
The modern Navy is a fighting force, the Coast Guard is in charge of policing the coasts. Drug busts at sea, slavery, piracy, poaching…all of those things are enforced by the Coast Guard.

Well, the Coast Guard is a Brown Water Force. I don’t think it rountinely patrols the areas where modern pirates usally haunt(Africa and SE Asia).

No, but there is more than one coast guard.

The problem AFAICT would be the same if the US Navy decided to become more involved in piracy issues. It becomes a jurisdictional issue. For example, the Malaysian gov’t refuses to accept help from the Japanese coast guard:

Which sounds like absolute insanity. The article doesn’t speak to any concessions the Malaysian government would have to make, but I would think that, considering their limited resources and their inability to protect legal business vessels, they’d be clamoring for help.

Maybe they should use “sonic weapons”?


Also, isn’t one of the traditional roles of navies that of keeping the the seas free of piracy?

– “We Be Three Poor Mariners,” English sea chanty from the reign of Henry VIII. http://www.lindseydavis.co.uk/publications.htm

Sorry, flubbed that link. http://www.contemplator.com/sea/mariners.html

Keeping their seas free of piracy, sure - or the seas of countries they were at war at. Why would they assign ships to patrol anywhere else? It’d be a waste of ships and men.

The coast guards of whatever nation still perform that role, for that nation. And it’s the same reasoning for them not to as it was centuries ago - a waste of resources, and the diplomatic problems with entering the waters of another country unless you’re at war (well, there are diplomatic problems then too, but there are somewhat bigger fish to fry than that).

OTOH, the navy of whichever country happens to be the world’s predominant sea power traditionally takes on the role of “keeping the sea lanes open,” which includes suppression of piracy. That was the British Royal Navy’s job until after WWII, when the U.S. Navy gradually took it over.

Maybe so, but not out of any altruistic intent. If you’re strongest in one particular area of warfare, or have interests (such as shipping lanes) that need protecting, it just makes sense to keep that power moveable/interests safe.

What I took the OP to mean was the movement of the U.S. Navy into territorial waters not part of their regular shipping lanes. Places outside their notional protectorate, that the U.S. has no motivation beyond atruism for protecting.

On one hand, I’d be all for it - it’s not only the “good” thing to do, but also the U.S. could really do with some good press right now. However, for the same reason, i’d advice against it. Given current events, do you really think a country is going to feel perfectly happy with the U.S. Navy operating in their waters? Even if we’re not talking around the Middle East, any U.S. Navy operation could be taken as a “show of force” rather than a genuine aid-motivated mission.

Well, I did specifically say “high seas.” I understand that some countries aren’t going to want U.S. warships poking around in their territorial waters.

And although I know that the U.S. Coast Guard has blue-water capabilities, the Navy is generally better prepared for entering potentially hostile situations, IMHO, than the Coast Guard, and generally will have greater firepower on each ship.

No motivation, perhaps, but not no reason. Major trade routes such as the Malacca Straits are affected. And interventions in Somalia cannot just be about aid, but are tied up with the current situation in the country, with extremists being able to operate freely.

Isn’t that covered by;

I assume that if there’s a major problem with U.S. commercial shipping, there would already be a good deal of anti-pirate work.

I see what you’re saying, but I’m not getting your point. Could you expand? (Sorry for not being able to understand).

“Their regular shipping lanes” - many of the shipping lanes with big piracy problems are those which are important to American trade. But currently policing of the lanes is mostly left to the countries happening to be close by, who often cannot cope.

Re. Somalia - saying that any intervention in the anarchy of the place, including of the coast, is purely altruistic just doesn’t make sense. There’s good evidence that the lawlessness of the place is making it a perfect place for Islamist extremisim to take root (fight piracy = War on Terror! Everyone’s a winner :smiley: )

The cite I linked earlier directly addresses the Malacca straits. The Malaysian government has refused assistance and will not allow the coast guard of any outside government to patrol the strait.

Arrrh, me hearties! Turn to, hoist the Jolly Roger and smite the infidel! Allah akbar, ye scurvy seadogs!

Is there any suggestion that the malaysian govt may be benifiting from pirating?

Does any significant amount of pirating go on on the high seas? I was of the understanding that most pirates operated in small skiffs relatively close to land base.

Could be worse! At least we’re safe on the land!



I’ve never heard of the Malaysian gov’t, as a whole, benefitting from piracy. The Malaysians have been pretty proactive on combatting piracy in their waters. In fact, the IMB piracy reporting center is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. However, in that some of the piracy in the Straits of Malacca is controlled by organized crime, it’s certainly possible that some individuals within the gov’t are benefitting to some extent. Indonesia, on the other hand, is the bigger problem with regards to piracy in that waterway. Their gov’t seems to be unwilling to accept any help from outside and it has been suggested that some of the pirates operating the strait are in fact rogue Indonesian naval units.

The recent wave of piracy that is happening off the coast of Somali is taking place some 100-200 miles offshore. This is very unusual, but as ships are avoiding the coast due to the danger, the pirates are simply going out farther to get them.