Why take the chance?

About two weeks ago, when the Somali pirates took that giant oil tanker, I was watching the news with my wife, turned to her, and said, “my God, what’s to stop these people from taking a cruise ship and either ransoming off or killing off the hostages?”

Now, we’re seeing that an attempt has been made, with a couple of boats pursuing an American cruise ship, the M/V Nautica, in the Gulf of Aden. Luckily, a quick-thinking cruise ship captain was able to outrun the little boats after, according to a radio interview I heard this morning, informing the passengers as they sat down for breakfast that some suspicious boats were following them and everyone should take shelter in a corridor. This time, the pirates were beaten, but not until a couple of shots were taken, in vain, at the ship.

Given what a dozen or so gunmen were able to do in Mumbai at this time last week, striking a number of targets–all open buildings with entrances, exits and windows throughout–and killing hundreds of people, all the while keeping law enforcement and counterterrorism forces at bay for several days, I cannot help but wonder how safe a contained, confined, isolated and largely security-free environment such as a cruise ship would handle a similar attack.

Of course, these pirates are interested in ransom. They want money. Still, what’s to stop people like those who attacked the hotels and train station in Mumbai from paying and using the pirates essentially as a cruise ship delivery system?

Keep in mind that everything I know about naval warfare, I learned from the History Channel and Tom Clancy novels, so please take this with a grain of salt. However, while I understand the great expanse of sea in question here, I cannot wrap my head around why our Navy, as well as those from across the world, cannot take care of this little problem before it mushrooms and gets a whole lot worse.

We’ve seen what a gaggle of radical Muslims can do with explosives and a rubber boat in the nearby port of Aden (where, I think, the M/V Nautica is currently at rest). We’ve seen what mere gunmen can do in Mumbai and at Beslan. Why take the chance that this will escalate?

Over the past two weeks in my neighborhood, we’ve seen a dozen robberies taking place in daylight and darkness when homeowners are not home, enough so that police are asking folks to leave a light on at all times and ensure that doors and windows are all locked. Two streets behind me, in a house no more than a good six-iron away from my back porch, one gentleman was robbed twice, on two separate occasions, both times during the day.

One neighbor said to me, as we chatted in an after-turkey fog of gluttony, “at least these break-ins are happening during the day when nobody is home.” The thing is, that’s not the point. These things get worse when someone comes home to a criminal in their living room, or when the burglar breaks into a house at night only to find a scared homeowner with a frying pan. In my neighborhood, we cannot simply bank on the idea that only tangible things will be taken and people and lives will be ignored — just like, off of the Somali coast, we cannot simply assume that these pirates only intend to obtain money and take for ransom.

Things could get worse quickly. As I see it, the Navy had to wait for the United States Supreme Court to rule, a few weeks ago, against environmentalists who claimed that the sonar from Naval exercises off the California coast was disrupting whales and marine life — why even bother with the hippies in California when we’ve got target practice off the coast of Somalia? The Indian Navy sank a few of their ships, why can’t we?



  1. Anonymous says:

    Easy way to fix it. Create an exclusionary zone for any watercraft of small size around the shipping lanes. Any boat that violates the zone is blown out of the water. You won’t get them all at first, but will eventually.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Eventually every ship will have to be equipped with defensive weapons capability and crew to use them. One little shoulder fired stinger missle at one of the pirate boats would have made quite a statement.

  3. happyinbt says:

    jeff, I sure hope Obama is reading your article – I have a distinct impression and feeling that he isn’t as serious about terrorism as Bush has been. Really scary, if you stop and think about it. Keep up the good work and good luck with your exams. Your wife and daughter must be very special!


  4. Anonymous says:

    Jeff, this is really going to hurt the cruise industry. I was going to book a last minute deal this month for New Years, but forget it now. I don’t fly, so cruising is part of our lives. Until the US and the US Navy, and/or Coast Guard get their act together and decide to eliminate this problem, it definitely will get worse. I’ll miss cuising.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well, it is easily said, it probably is either a false flag operation or they just let it happen in order to increase fear amongst us in order to offer solutions, i.e. attack African countries??

  6. Laptoplizard, Jackson, TN says:

    I reckon Jeff, It’s because SCOTUS hasn’t said we could yet, has anyone asked them? Could You?

    You are so right and yet there are many many more security problems within THIS country that the people never think about.

    I wont get into a lot of it but think of this; A small town HS football game or any gathering for that matter…..What is stopping them from doing the very same thing in of our small towns? That happened in India?

    How many Police Stations could handle 3-5 bad guys storming the place?

    How long would it take to regain control?

    And what could they really do in time to save those at the the game or gathering? where the other 3-5 Bad Guys are?

    It dont take many to cause major problems and then worse the “Concerns” that we would all have no matter which town it was?

    A terrorist’s job is to create terror…ya know? even a totally failed attempt at such a thing would at least partially accomplish their goal. Would it not?

    So yes My Friend quite a lot of security concerns. Not only in this big world or the enormous seas…But right her in our hometowns? As you said a mere six iron away.

    BTW… Golf is dumb…STUDY young man STUDY, and as always THANKS.

    Oh and quit calling all the tree huggers hippies. Some of us REAL hippies (with canes) may get upset. It is a rather large caliber cane ya know.

    Blessings to ya My Friend

  7. MUJERLATINA says:

    “Home Invasions” are becoming THE most popular form of robbery these days for two reasons: people are off guard because they are resting in, what they believe, is their sanctuary (home); robbers can take advantage of people being off guard to demand ID information and claim any property tha is portable for easy cash. In the Northeast US we have been increasingly vigilant of this very vogue form of looting…

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what flag the Nautica sails under, but it really bothers me that many ships fly a panamanian flag (or other country) to avoid taxes and duties to the country that the vessel really sails from.

    I think that the US Navy should protect US civilian and merchant marine ships on the open ocean (within reason, not talking about escorts). But ships that fly the flag of another country to avoid duties to the US should seek their protection from those other countries.

  9. Brian from So. California says:

    First off, I must point out that I was an Operations Specialist in the US Navy for five years, having made two deployments to the Arabian (Persian) Gulf and participated in numerous maritime interdiction operations in support of UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein, so I think I have some knowledge that I can share in this matter.

    As to the question of why can’t we just fire on these Somali pirates, I think the reason we cannot do so is because the US Navy’s hands are tied by the standing ROE and the politics of “diplomacy.” The Rules Of Engagement posit that a US military asset cannot engage until provocated, or “fire until fired upon.” So, the US Navy cannot simply hunt them down of the Eastern Horn of Africa. We can, however, maintain a presense in the region and provide a measured response when needed. The only time a Captain can engage a threat, without authorization from USCENTCOM, is when the ship is directly attacked. Any other situation must have authorization from above. But at some point, the decision transitions from a military decision maker to a political one.

    The other thing holding us back from engaging this threat is the whole politics and diplomacy issue, which I probably shouldn’t discuss as I am not as familiar with. Suffice it to say, our military power is often curtailed by the direction the political winds are blowing. Trust me, I witnessed this policy first hand.

    Personally, I think we should have several Arleigh Burke class destroyers patrolling the waters around Somalia. And I thik that each of these ships should have a SEAL contingent aboard, who have training in maritime interdiction operations. And I think that American cargo and oil shipments passing throught the region should be automatically escorted through the Straits of Aden or as it transits along the coastline of Africa by the US Navy. We must protect our national interest, br it oil imports/exports, or vacationing citizens.

    I am glad that the Captain of m/v Nautica has the presense of mind to simply outrun the pirates. And I agree with Jeff, by targeting cruise liner to pirate, these Somalis have shown that they won’t stop at pirating cargo for ransom, but also civilan lives.

    By the way, the ship, M/V Nautica, is actually moored in the deep water port of Muscat, in the Republic of Oman, which is several hundred miles northeast of Aden, Yemen. Oman, like it’s neighbor UAE, are reasonably pro-Western, while still maintaining their conservative Muslim traditions. I have been to Muscat. It’s actually a charming city, and I believe part of a Bond film was filmed there.

    And, Jeff, I thank you for devoting your time, wit, and energy to this insightful blog. I came to this blogspot after learning about Berg v. Obama, but I continued reading as I share similar conservative perspectives you write about with the comments your write. While I wish I could show my thanks and gratitude with a monetary contribution, I can only offer you and your family the prayer for a safe and festive Christmas season.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. msjkulig430 says:

    Was the Hijacked Iranian Ship holding a “Dirty Bomb” meant for Israel on Yom Kippur?

    On August 21st, 2008, the MV Iran Deyant, 44,458 dead weight bulk carrier was heading towards the Suez Canal. What the pirates were not banking on, however, was that this was no ordinary ship. Within a period of three days, those pirates who had boarded the ship and opened the cargo container with its gritty sand-like contents, all developed strange health complications, to include serious skin burns and loss of hair. And within two weeks, sixteen of the pirates subsequently died. Chemical experts say the reports sound inconsistent with chemical poisoning, but may reflect the effects of exposure to radiation.

    Read the full story here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2103708/posts

  11. Anonymous says:

    Brian of S.Cal,
    What is considered provocation? I thought the pirates fired at the Nautica?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is America Being Held Hostage Under The Threat Of A Nuclear Attack?

    Very little about what is happening today in our Country seems to make any sense. The obvious conclusion would be that there is some wide-spread conspiracy to make absolutely certain that an unqualified candidate becomes President of the United States, regardless of whether or not he meets the Constitutional qualifications to hold office.

    But is a conspiracy of this magnitude even logical? And why would a conspiracy that is so massive and so wide spread even take place in the first place? The only logical conclusion that makes any sense, in my opinion, is that America is being held hostage by the threat of nuclear attack.

    Read the full article here:

  13. Anonymous says:

    Even easier way to fix it… post armed security on top deck with 50 cal machine guns and use them!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Or send a small cruise ship out with a group of ‘vacationers’ (all being Seals, or other special forces), let them start boarding, and then let our guys tear them a new one…. Dismember the bodies and leave them on the boats afloat for other pirates to find…..

  15. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Okaay, then.

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