Night ops

Friday, June 08, 2007

Working to prevent pirates taking ships at sea

This post is a variation on this post at Milblogs that is part of a friendly discussion about pirates, combatant ship levels and other matters.

Part of that discussion involves when it might be acceptable to violate international law and pursue pirates into another country's territorial waters. CDR Salamander has asserted (at the aforementioned Milblogs and on his own site) that since Somalia is unable to control its own waters and the pirates who operate therein and out of them, that is should be permissible to engage in "hot pursuit" of such pirates and enforce the law for the Somalis.

I, on the other hand, don't believe that the decision to violate even an toothless international law ought to be left up to a CO facing a crisis, but should be made ahead of time, especially if your purpose in being where you are is to "hunt pirates."

If you know you are going "hunting pirates" that the skids should be greased for "hot pursuit" well before you find yourself facing a captured merchant ship with hostages. Lay the diplomatic foundation first or announce ahead of time that which Salamander suggests - that due to Somalia's inability to control its own waters, others will step in as needed. I can see no reason why such a decision should be left a CO to make on the spot. Although, if it was- then I think in this case the CO of Carter Hall made the right call.

I vigorously disagree that once hostages are taken in a situation in which a pattern has been established that it may be better to take the risk of having the hostages killed rather than let them be kept by the pirates awaiting ransom. I am certain that if I were one of the Danish crew of Danica White I'd appreciate you not making your point of defending freedom of seas with my life.

Which leads me to my real point, which is one of prevention of ship captures instead of the tail chasing "hostage rescues." To that end:
If I were the "anti-pirate" king, I'd offer up a voluntary convoy system for shipping entering into what long has been labeled a "danger zone" off Somalia. If no one on active duty remembers how to do convoy ops, I still remember how from my days in Naval Coordination and Protection of Shipping (or whatever it is now known as) and will volunteer to come back and help work the problem, though I also know that many NATO forces still have both the personnel and knowledge to do it if asked/tasked. In a similar vein, I have long argued for escorting UN food ships headed to Somalia. I am amazed that the UN has not sought coalition help in getting food to the thousands of starving innocents whose lives are threatened by these pirates.

A little forehandedness would go a long way in preventing ship captures.

Speaking of which, I understand the small ship shortage issue. I fail to see how sending lumbering amphibs (no disrespect intended) without other, faster, more appropriate assets is helping the problem. Why there aren't a a few Intermarine MV85s operating with an LSD is beyond me. Or why there aren't armed helicopter assets to respond to distress calls before a ship is taken by pirates?

Let me plan the next "pirate troll" and I promise to come back with scalps. But first let me take care of the handcuffs of international law and have access to something other than low speed high drag ships armed, essentially, with popguns. If we are serious about hunting pirates and terrorists at sea, let's develop a "hunter-killer" group armed with proper tools.

Went through Chinfo's alphabetical list of U.S. Navy ships and culled out the USNS, MV, submarines, minesweepers, amphibious ships and cruisers to get to the numbers of "destroyers" and "frigates" and "coastal patrol" ships. There are 86 ships listed below, 9 of which are PCs the remaining 77 being DDG or FFG.

I'm sure the list is probably not completely accurate, but assuming 1/3 deployed, 1/3 in workup or standown and 1/3 in yard or RAV, there's a lot of ocean being "covered" by too few ships.

We should be spending some serious money on small ships like the aforementioned MV85s and developing a "sea base" mothership (gee, like a destroyer tender?) for ops like pirate hunts and other littoral fun.

List of current destroyers, frigates and coastal patrol ships serving in the U.S. Navy (or why a big amphib is chasing pirates):
1. USS ARLEIGH BURKE DDG 51 NORFOLK, VA
2. USS BARRY DDG 52 NORFOLK, VA
3. USS BENFOLD DDG 65 SAN DIEGO, CA
4. USS BOONE FFG 28 MAYPORT, FL
5. USS BULKELEY DDG 84 NORFOLK, VA
6. USS CARNEY DDG 64 MAYPORT, FL
7. USS CARR FFG 52 NORFOLK, VA
8. USS CHAFEE DDG 90 PEARL HARBOR, HI
9. USS CHINOOK PC 9 LITTLE CREEK, VA
10. USS CHUNG-HOON DDG 93 SAN DIEGO, CA
11. USS COLE DDG 67 NORFOLK, VA
12. USS CROMMELIN FFG 37 PEARL HARBOR, HI
13. USS CURTIS WILBUR DDG 54 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
14. USS CURTS FFG 38 SAN DIEGO, CA
15. USS CUSHING DD 985 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
16. USS DE WERT FFG 45 MAYPORT, FL
17. USS DECATUR DDG 73 SAN DIEGO, CA
18. USS DONALD COOK DDG 75 NORFOLK, VA
19. USS DOYLE FFG 39 MAYPORT, FL
20. USS ELROD FFG 55 NORFOLK, VA
21. USS FIREBOLT PC 10 LITTLE CREEK, VA
22. USS FITZGERALD DDG 62 SAN DIEGO, CA
23. USS FORD FFG 54 EVERETT, WA
24. USS GARY FFG 51 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
25. USS GONZALEZ DDG 66 NORFOLK, VA
26. USS HALSEY DDG 97 SAN DIEGO, CA
27. USS HALYBURTON FFG 40 MAYPORT, FL
28. USS HAWES FFG 53 NORFOLK, VA
29. USS HIGGINS DDG 76 SAN DIEGO, CA
30. USS HOPPER DDG 70 PEARL HARBOR, HI
31. USS HOWARD DDG 83 SAN DIEGO, CA
32. USS HURRICANE PC 3 SAN DIEGO, CA
33. USS INGRAHAM FFG 61 EVERETT, WA
34. USS JAMES E WILLIAMS DDG 95 NORFOLK, VA
35. USS JARRETT FFG 33 SAN DIEGO, CA
36. USS JOHN L HALL FFG 32 PASCAGOULA, MS
37. USS JOHN PAUL JONES DDG 53 SAN DIEGO, CA
38. USS JOHN S MCCAIN DDG 56 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
39. USS KAUFFMAN FFG 59 NORFOLK, VA
40. USS KLAKRING FFG 42 MAYPORT, FL
41. USS LABOON DDG 58 NORFOLK, VA
42. USS LASSEN DDG 82 YOKOSUKA
43. USS MAHAN DDG 72 NORFOLK, VA
44. USS MASON DDG 87 NORFOLK, VA
45. USS MCCAMPBELL DDG 85 SAN DIEGO, CA
46. USS MCCLUSKY FFG 41 SAN DIEGO, CA
47. USS MCFAUL DDG 74 NORFOLK, VA
48. USS MCINERNEY FFG 8 MAYPORT, FL
49. USS MILIUS DDG 69 SAN DIEGO, CA
50. USS MITSCHER DDG 57 NORFOLK, VA
51. USS MOMSEN DDG 92 SAN DIEGO, CA
52. USS MUSTIN DDG 89 SAN DIEGO, CA
53. USS NICHOLAS FFG 47 NORFOLK, VA
54. USS NITZE DDG 94 NORFOLK, VA
55. USS O'KANE DDG 77 PEARL HARBOR
56. USS OSCAR AUSTIN DDG 79 NORFOLK, VA
57. USS PAUL HAMILTON DDG 60 PEARL HARBOR, HI
58. USS PINCKNEY DDG 91 SAN DIEGO, CA
59. USS PORTER DDG 78 NORFOLK, VA
60. USS PREBLE DDG 88 SAN DIEGO, CA
61. USS RAMAGE DDG 61 NORFOLK, VA
62. USS RENTZ FFG 46 SAN DIEGO, CA
63. USS REUBEN JAMES FFG 57 PEARL HARBOR, HI
64. USS ROBERT G BRADLEY FFG 49 MAYPORT, FL
65. USS RODNEY M DAVIS FFG 60 EVERETT, WA
66. USS ROOSEVELT DDG 80 MAYPORT, FL
67. USS ROSS DDG 71 NORFOLK, VA
68. USS RUSSELL DDG 59 PEARL HARBOR, HI
69. USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS FFG 58 MAYPORT, FL
70. USS SHOUP DDG 86 EVERETT, WA
71. USS SIMPSON FFG 56 MAYPORT, FL
72. USS SIROCCO PC 6 LITTLE CREEK, VA
73. USS SQUALL PC 7 SAN DIEGO, CA
74. USS STEPHEN W GROVES FFG 29 PASCAGOULA, MS
75. USS STETHEM DDG 63 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
76. USS STOUT DDG 55 NORFOLK, VA
77. USS TAYLOR FFG 50 MAYPORT, FL
78. USS TEMPEST PC 2 LITTLE CREEK, VA
79. USS THACH FFG 43 SAN DIEGO, CA
80. USS THE SULLIVANS DDG 68 MAYPORT, FL
81. USS THUNDERBOLT PC 12 LITTLE CREEK, VA
82. USS TYPHOON PC 5 LITTLE CREEK, VA
83. USS UNDERWOOD FFG 36 MAYPORT, FL
84. USS VANDEGRIFT FFG 48 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
85. USS WHIRLWIND PC 11 LITTLE CREEK, VA
86. USS WINSTON S CHURCHILL DDG 81 NORFOLK, VA

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