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  • Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS
    Thanks Stan and Mark. Phelps ... From: StanEllexson Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 6:50 PM Subject: Fwd: Fw: [Fwd: pirates/This is not humorous at all, but
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 16, 2009
      Thanks Stan and Mark.
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 6:50 PM
      Subject: Fwd: Fw: [Fwd: pirates/This is not humorous at all, but worthy of reading]

      It seems to me that the Navy League, Naval Order, MOAA, ROA, NRA, American Legion, VFW, and other military/patriotic type groups should see their contacts on "The Hill" to get some action.

      From: oldmariner@...
      Sent: 4/16/2009 5:59:57 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
      Subj: Fw: [Fwd: pirates/This is not humorous at all, but worthy of reading]
      ----- Forwarded Message ----

      From: CAPT (ret) John H. McCoy <jmccly at pacbell dot net>

      I am an active Merchant Mariner.
      Last year I spent the entire year out in those waters on the Maersk 
      Vermont, Maersk Ohio and the President Truman.
      It's very difficult for those who don't have first hand Merchant Marine 
      experience in those waters to get a full appreciation of the situation.
      Pirates aren't new, just their tactics and equipment are. They have 
      better boats, better guns and much more sophisticated electronic 
      guidance systems.
      Perhaps the worst piece of equipment the USCG/IMO has mandated ships to 
      not only carry but remain in operational service is the "AIS" or 
      Automated Information Systems. For those unfamiliar with the system, 
      here is an informational link: 
      Apparently, the pirates aren't complying with these mandates, because, I 
      have yet to see a "Pirate ship" identified on AIS, and I have sailed in 
      pirate waters for a long time.
      In spite of all the ISPS Security measures, the USCG mandates that we 
      broadcast all the information about our ships to the whole world in real 
      time. The AIS, as a minimum broadcasts our position (accurate to GPS 
      standards) our, course, speed, destination and number of crew aboard. as 
      well of course as our flag. Its like a "menu" for pirates and terrorists 
      (there both the same in my view) to plan attacks on us when and where we 
      are most vulnerable.
      It's ironic that you can be steaming along in the middle of the ocean, 
      run across a US Navy ship all armed with guns, SEALS, and helicopters, 
      and they  are in full EMCOM (Electronic Emission and Communications 
      Control) and we are out there, slow, under manned, and unarmed being 
      required to broadcast all the vital statistics of our ship to any pirate 
      who can buy them on line from the WEST Marine catalog, although they 
      usually don't have to buy them. They just take them off the ships they 
      Now the armchair Admirals, who haven't got a clue as to what we are up 
      against have this "knee jerk" reaction is to arm the crews. That looks 
      real good on front pages of newspapers, but is idiotic in the real 
      Merchant Marine. I want the cook to put a meal out, not play Rambo.
      What we don't need, right now is an escalation in the crisis, using 
      garden hoses  to extinguish a raging forest fire. But then again, those 
      who can do; those who cant, teach.
      The key to this problem is far more complicated and need to be resolved 
      at the very highest levels of government, and even the United Nations.
      Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote in his "Sea Power" thesis, that the primary 
      role of the US Navy must be to protect the US Merchant Marine. That 
      doctrine is still the basis of Naval Seapower lessons taught at both the 
      US Naval Academy and the Navy War College. Are these Admirals now 
      sluffing off that responsibility to twenty one sailors , already 
      undermanned, rather than stepping up to the plate, as they certainly 
      did, in the case of the USS Bainbridge.
      If our over 250 capital ship US Navy, cant defend our 189 (10,000gt and 
      over) US Merchant fleet, with all their sophisticated weapons, and 
      trained warriors, how can we, the Merchant seafarers have any hope 
      These havens of refuge and support, where pirates can stage their 
      attacks must be eliminated. Hopefully, through political (speak softly 
      and carry a big stick) means, but if not ultimately, through whatever 
      means are appropriate.
      In Somalia, we are dealing with a place where there is no central 
      government, and an economy with absolutely no gross national product. 
      Lawless and useless. As Captain of the USNS Harkness, I spent several 
      years operation off the coast of Somalia, and dealt directly with the 
      ragged and disorganized Somali government of that time. Mogadishu was my 
      base of operation, but I also had to call on many of the other ports 
      along the Somali Coast, both in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
      What struck me most, was the difficulty in identifying organized 
      government officials from the rest of the population. Everyone wore the 
      same sarrappi (affectionately referred to as Man Dresses), and everyone 
      had an AK-47 strapped over their shoulders. It was like the African 
      "Wild West".
      Waiting for the pirate to get alongside the unarmed or armed merchant 
      ship means that we have already lost the battle.
      We can only win the War against pirates, by closing down their bases of 
      operation, ashore, and making sure, there are no safe havens for 
      pirates, anywhere in the world.
      Captain Bill Doherty, master mariner, MMA-67
      CDR-USNR Ret
    • Phelps Hobart
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 17, 2009


        How to solve the pirate problem

        Jonah Goldberg

        April 17, 2009

        Well, that was simple. Shoot the pirates, problem solved.

        OK, not the problem of piracy per se. But the problem of these specific pirates off the coast of Somalia: taken care of. And, if more pirates were shot, there would be fewer pirates. Unlike, say, jihadist terrorists, pirates are in it for the money. Raise the cost of being a pirate—in denominations of pirate blood—and you'll lower the supply of pirates. That's how governments—good and bad—have dealt with piracy for thousands of years.

        President Barack Obama didn't personally order Navy SEALs to take out the Somali pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips hostage. He left the decision up to the commanders on the scene, who made the right call. Obama should be congratulated for that, just as surely as he would have been criticized if things had gone south.

        For those of us who see the resurrection of President Jimmy Carter in Obama, this was a nice surprise. People forget how reluctant the Carterites were to use force. Carter agonized over whether to rescue American hostages in Tehran. According to Charlie Beckwith, the commander of Delta Force in charge of the mission, he informed Carter's point man, Warren Christopher, that in the rescue effort, "anyone who is holding a hostage, we intend to shoot him, and shoot him right between the eyes. We intend to shoot him twice." Christopher was stunned, according to Beckwith. "Would you consider shooting them in the leg, or in the ankle or the shoulder?"

        So this, as they say, is progress.

        But only if you look at things along a timeline beginning a mere 30 years ago. Looked at from 200 years ago—the last time an American-flagged ship and crew were seized by pirates—we've fallen terribly behind.

        Why has this become so complicated? I don't mean finding and shooting pirates, which can be quite difficult, according to experts. I mean the issue of piracy, which has been around since the 13th Century B.C.

        Several answers come to mind. For starters, the culture has become more pro-pirate. Although everyone hoped for the safe return of Phillips, it was clear the media and public thought there was something charmingly exotic about all this pirate talk. Avast, mateys, and all that.

        Then, of course, there's the fact that the pirates today aren't flamboyantly dressed, gold-bling-sporting white guys better suited for "Project Runway," but very poor Muslim Africans from a failed state. Generations of "don't blame the victim" talk have made us sympathetic to criminals, particularly Third World ones.

        Indeed, the British, who once hastened human progress by hunting and hanging pirates, are now afraid to allow the Royal Navy to even arrest them for fear that under the 1998 British Human Rights Act, the captured pirates might demand asylum in Britain. After all, you can't send pirates back to their home country, where they might be mistreated.

        And that raises the primary reason this all seemed so complicated. Lawyers. Layers and layers of lawyers. Bret Stephens asked in a prescient Wall Street Journal essay last November, "Why don't we hang pirates anymore?" And the answer, he discovered, is that "there is no controlling legal authority." A combination of international and domestic law has made dealing with what Cicero dubbed hostis humani generis—enemies of the human race—just too darn complicated.

        Add to this the fact that trial lawyers, bureaucrats and accountants for too long have conspired with corporate honchos to make paying ransoms the least costly option. Shipping companies don't want their crews armed to defend themselves.

        Piracy is still a small problem in the scheme of things, but that makes things easier. Cannibalistic serial killers are relatively rare too. That hardly means there's a great mystery about what should be done with them.

        What remains to be seen is whether this problem was solved despite Obama's instincts or because of them. The SEALs solved a hostage crisis by shooting three pirates. The question is whether Obama will prevent a pirate crisis from emerging by making it easier to shoot even more pirates.
      • Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS
        Wish I notified you of this earlier but in any case here it is. Anyone with a DVD recorder hooked up to their television? Please record it. Have high speed
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 17, 2009
          Wish I notified you of this earlier but in any case here it is.
          Anyone with a DVD recorder hooked up to their television? Please record it.
          Have high speed internet? Please record it.
          If we get a DVD we will show it at our council's 21 September luncheon focused on the subject (see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PMMC-NLUS/message/388). 
          In regards to recognizing the captain and crew of the the Maersk Alabama, Stephen Pietropaoli at Navy League Headquarters wrote, "Great suggestion and it is in the works here at National.  Appreciate your offer to collect locally, but we’ve got it covered here.  We are working some other possible recognitions for the skipper and crew and will let you know when they come together."
          Watch Fridays at 10 p.m. ET
          April 17th
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          "20/20's" exclusive look at a Somali pirate's life, boats, weapons and more.
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