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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

India and China's "String of Pearls" Sea Control Strategy

Interesting opinion piece by Ranjit B. Rai, India Checkmates Chinese Moves:
Recent incidents at the naval encirclement of India, at Hambantota and Gwadar, and possibly Bangladesh, dubbed as China’s ‘string of pearls,’ put an end to the rapidly improving relations with India. China dismissed the theory, arguing that India built ports with ADB and World Bank loans, which some developing countries find difficult to obtain. China’s naval analyst, Zhang Ming, contends that India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands could be used as a ‘metal chain’ to block Chinese access to the Straits of Malacca, known as China’s ‘Malacca Dilemma’ and argues India is building an ‘Iron Curtain’ with its influence in the Indian Ocean islands, and ganging up with US on a defense framework. During the Second World War the Japanese built airfields in the Andaman Islands, and China worries that India could emulate this strategy, as well.
***
It has been said, ‘India is like boiling water, steam and froth on top but rather calm below’. ‘China is like boiling oil, calm above but violent and seething below.’ If an eruption does take place in one nation, it could be violent. The jury is out whether the Chinese top down approach will prevail over India’s rather slower and democratic bottom-up approach. But the competition for influence in the Indian Ocean region has begun.
It's short, so read it all.

An earlier post on China: Sri Lanka and the Chinese String of Pearls from which the graphic above appears - and the graphic is modified from that appearing the Joint Operating Environment 2008 to include the Chinese anti-piracy deployment off Somalia and in the Indian Ocean as referenced in the above article.

For reference about Ray Cline's "Power Formula" see here and here (at page 44).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Attention on Deck: Call for Assistance

Boston Maggie and her friendly neighborhood Senior Chief request some aid for some wounded Marines. Your attention is directed to Bostonmaggie: Listen Up! I Want Something!:
My fav BMCS has found a particular problem in Khandahar. His unit has come across a group of wounded Marines who have slipped through the cracks so to speak. They come in straight from the field with the clothes on their back. In most cases, these Marines have suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). They are in this location to see the doctors at the nearby facility, which is top-notch, before being shipped out to other facilities.

So, what's the problem? Well, for one thing, the Marines have none of their own gear. Except for seeing the docs, they are sitting around bored silly.
***
So, help out these transient Marines by sending over some stuff. Here's a list Maggie posted:
New twin bed sheets sets.
Inexpensive comforters.
Pillows.
Towels.
Shower shoes.
Socks.
Underwear.
DVDs
X-box games.
Magazines.
and finally......
IPods/Mp3 players. (new or used)
Imagine a doctor visit that may last weeks . . .

Visit Maggie's site for details.

That is all. Carry on.



Photo: Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Darren Cobbs from Philadelphia, Pa., blows his boatswain's pipe prior to passing information to the crew over the ship’s announcing system (1MC).  . . U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Eric A. Clement. (RELEASED)

Somali Pirates: Singapore ship with Chinese crew grabbed in Gulf of Aden

Early MSC(HOA) report here:
In the early hours of 28 June, pirates took control of the MV Golden Blessing approximately 90 nautical miles off the northern Somali coast. On notification from the Master of the MV Golden Blessing that pirates were on board, the EU NAVFOR German warship Schleswig-Holstein immediately launched their helicopter and reported sighting suspected pirates on board the MV Golden Blessing.

The MV Golden Blessing, a Singapore flagged tanker with deadweight of 14445 tonnes, was carrying a cargo of glycoethelen. The MV Golden Blessing has a crew of 19 Chinese; there are no reports of injuries. The vessel is under pirate control but remains unmoving at present. EU NAVFOR is monitoring.
.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Explanation of the Jones Act

Dennis L. Bryant of Bryant’s Maritime Consulting and Bryant’s Maritime Blog was recently interviewed about the Jones Act and its impact on the Deep Horizon Oil Accident, which interview is available at this post about which Mr. Bryant writes:
The interview took over 20 minutes and the radio broadcast condensed that down to about two minutes, so numerous details relating to cabotage have been glossed over or omitted.
A portion of the interview:
Some lawmakers say they’ve heard the Jones Act is stopping foreign oil skimmers from helping with the oil spill cleanup. But Bryant says the law probably isn’t to blame. "The impediment, if there is one, has been that there hasn’t been a valid offer for a foreign response vessel," he notes.

Bryant adds that many foreign oil skimmers may not be willing or able to leave their current jobs yet to help with the spill cleanup. "The vessels over there are probably gainfully employed doing other things, and they would then have to get them out of whatever contract they’re under now," says Bryant. "The amount of oil spill response vessels in the world is not that great."

Bryant also points out that, since the strictest provisions of the Jones Act only apply within 3 miles of the US coast, it’s easier for foreign ships to help with cleanup operations farther out in the Gulf, near the Deepwater Horizon well itself.
You can listen to the report here.


Map from NOAA.

Time for a National Geography Lesson


I'll take states that border on Mexico for $1000, Alex. Let's see, that's Texas, its neighbor New Mexico, California and, oh, what's that other one? Let's try Arizona, which would be right unless you are a county supervisor from Wisconsin, like Ms. Peggy West who, speaking about Arizona's immigration challenges, said:
If this was Texas, which is a state that is directly on the border with Mexico, and they were calling for a measure like this, saying that they had a major issue with, you know, undocumented people flooding their borders, I would have to look twice at this.

But this is a state that is a ways removed from the border ...
Nice going, Ms. West. You just won an EagleSpeak Dodo Award.What? You "misspoke?" Bwahahahahah!
The red arrow on the map points to Arizona. The red line sorta follows the U.S.-Mexico border.

Speaking of idiocy:

Yep, this self-styled "activist" compares federal law enforcement agents to the Ku Klux Klan. So witty in her preferred political circles where Mao, Stalin and "Che" are heroes to these "useful idiots." I suppose she just didn't have time to mention the Coast Guard, which also turns back would-be immigrants. Moron.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Fallen at Khobar Towers

Remembered over at the Castle.

Rest in peace, Airmen.

Iranian ships face Europe ports ban

Iran's merchant fleet ("IRISL= Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines) might be in trouble - Lloyd's List reports "IRISL ships face Europe ports ban":
Sanctions already imposed by both the US and the United Nations have specifically been aimed at IRISL, which is accused of facilitating Tehran’s nuclear proliferation plans, despite its repeated denials.

Maltese foreign minister Tonio Borg has told the Times of Malta newspaper that the European Council has instructed foreign ministers to move against transport entities, including IRISL and other shipping outfits.

“Besides transport, a number of economic sectors will be targeted by the EU sanctions, which will also include a ban on investments, technical assistance and technology transfers to Iran’s oil and gas industry,” he said.
Thanks to Fred Fry for sending this on, with a note to the effect that Iran can't continue the shell game of "selling" and "reflagging" described here because "everyone knows who owned them and they really can't disguise that given that any legitimate buyer is almost certainly going to run afoul of the sanctions themselves given that actually buying the ships would involve transferring money."

UPDATE: Fred, by the way, will be a guest on Midrats this Sunday at 5 pm (Eastern).
Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Fearless Navy Blogger Take to the Air: Episode 27 Merchant Marine and the USMC Mid-Year Update 6/27/2010

5pm/1700 Eastern U.S. time, Episode 27 Merchant Marine and the USMC Mid-Year Update 6/27/2010 - Midrats | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio:
Join us as we discuss the state of the United States Merchant Marine with Fred Fry of FredFryInternational for the first half-hour. We'll discuss everything from where we get our Merchant Mariniers to the now infamous Jones Act. For the second half of the show we will have returning guest Mark Stanovich, LtCol, USMCR. We'll pivot and discuss the latest run on the USMC's core mission and plans for a dramatic reduction in the Corps, along with a few other interesting subjects.
Flags of convenience may get a mention.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Iran: Flags of Convenience and Breaking Sanctions

Nice report of how Iran evades sanctions by the NYTimes at Web of Shell Companies Veils Trade by Iran’s Ships:
But an examination shows how Iran has used a succession of stratagems — changing not just ships’ flags and names but their owners, operators and managers, too — to stay one step ahead of its pursuers. This cat-and-mouse game offers a case study in the difficulties of enforcing sanctions.

“We are dealing with people who are as smart as we are, and of course they can read our list,” said Stuart A. Levey, the under secretary of the Treasury who oversees the sanctions effort and the blacklist of Irisl and its fleet.

That blacklist simply hasn’t kept up.
It's always a mistake to underestimate how wily your enemies are.

One of my earlier posts on flags of convenience involving that other "friend of the U.S.," North Korea.

Ship photo of vessel "Amplify" by Daniel Ferro from Shipspotting.com and used in accord with terms found there.

Hat tip to Information Dissemination.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yes We Can

From Investor's Business Daily's Michael Ramirez

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Celebrates Its 71st Birthday!

Happy birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary! The new Commandant of the CG says so, too, in Admiral Papp recognizes Coast Guard Auxiliary:
1. On June 23, 2010, the Coast Guard Auxiliary will celebrate seventy-one years of faithful and dedicated service. Our Auxiliary shipmates have once again given generously of themselves to support Coast Guard personnel and missions, and to make our nation’s waterways safer for the more than 83 million recreational boaters who sail them. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers have literally taught generations of boaters how to properly equip and operate their vessels. Through their dedication to boating safety and their lifesaving activities, thousands of mariners are saved or assisted every year. The Coast Guard Auxiliary has honored our profession and advanced the outstanding service we provide our nation.
2. Over the past year, the Auxiliary has set the standard for organizational resilience and continuous improvement. By modernizing its national organization, the Auxiliary positioned itself to parallel the Coast Guard in its conduct of operations, training, policy development, and mission support. At the same time, it broadened its capabilities through a major expansion of its Trident program to provide greater support for the Coast Guard’s marine safety mission, the innovative application of social media and language interpretation skills to support rescue operations following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the formalization of the Auxiliary’s chef program to better support Coast Guard food service personnel. More recently, Auxiliarists have served in a range of capacities in support of Deepwater Horizon Spill Response operations, including over 5,000 hours checking the readiness of vessels participating in clean-up operations, monitoring deployed booms, supporting the area command center, and assisting with public affairs.
3. Our shipmates, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, have performed superbly, always standing a taut watch and exemplifying our core values. Please join me in recognizing their superb dedication by celebrating their seventy-first anniversary with your local Auxiliarists.
4. RELEASED BY ADMIRAL BOB PAPP, COMMANDANT.
You can read more about the history of the Auxiliary here.

Volunteers every one of them . . .

Somali Pirates: Interntional Effort Leads to Maltese soldiers nabbing suspected pirates

Last Friday, a German patrol plane, a Dutch warship and Maltese soldiers teamed up to grab some suspected pirates as set here:
. . . Dutch warship Johan de Witt, on which the Maltese soldiers are based, intercepted a skiff with six suspected pirates on board in the Gulf of Aden.

The skiff was detected by a German Orion patrol maritime aircraft as it was moving towards HNLMS Johan de Witt at great speed.

As the alarm was sounded on board the ship, an Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) security team rapidly prepared itself for action.

As soon as those aboard the skiff realised that they were dealing with a military vessel, they changed course in the direction of the coast. The Dutch warship fired a number of warning shots, after which the boat stopped and the suspected pirates surrendered. The AFM security team quickly secured the skiff and transferred those on board onto the navy ship.
Photo is from the Neterhlands Ministry of Defence

Fearless Navy Bloggers Took to the Air: Command

Our latest episode, talking to some men who have or have had command in the U.S. Navy: Episode 26 Command 6/20/2010 - Midrats | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio

There's no job quite like it. A big part of the job is selecting and grooming those who will take command in the future.


Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Picture of the Day

From here:
DILI, Timor-Leste (June 20, 2010) The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) is underway off the coast of Timore-Leste at dusk. Sailors from the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and embarked Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU) are participating in Exercise Crocodillo, a series of civil programs and training exercises with the Timor Leste and Australian militaries. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell/Released)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Piracy: Asian Shipowners Want It Stopped

As reported by here:
The Asian Shipowners' Forum has joined a global push to end what it considers "uncontrollable" piracy plaguing shipping in the region, the
regional industry group said Wednesday.

The ASF, which represents about 50% of the world's trade shipping fleet and covers shippers in 14 major Asian countries and government, said it would sign a global petition that is due to be presented to various governments on
September 23 -- IMO World Maritime Day.

"The situation has become uncontrollable and we have to put a quick stop to these criminal activities," said S S Teo, chairman of the ASF's Ship Navigation and Environment Committee.

Piracy has become a major irritation to tankers carrying oil, petrochemicals and dry bulk commodities around southeast Asia, with attacks
reported frequently in and around India, Singapore and southeast Asia.

Governments in the region have increased cooperation to frustrate attempts at piracy, including the establishment of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia in 2006.

Earlier this week, ReCAAP reported that there had been 10 attacks on shipping in Asia in May alone, including one on a petrochemicals tanker and
three on dry bulk carriers.
As seen in this earlier ASF press release, their concerns are not just in the SE Asia region:
he Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF), at its 19th annual meeting held today in Hong Kong, expressed its strong concern at the continuing attacks on merchant ships and urges the world’s navies to increase their protection of ships passing through the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean. “The situation has become a serious crisis, one that deeply affects seafarers and their families and the carriage of world trade, and while we are grateful for their protection, it would seem that the rules of engagement are not effective to stop and punish the attackers”, said Mr SS Teo, the SNEC Chairman.

Mr George Chao, the SILC Chairman added “And the deliberately vague Executive Order issued by the President of the United States is only adding to the confusion, by apparently seeking to restrict the ability of shipowners to free their seafarers from kidnap while not offering anything in return that would ensure the protection of our seafarers.”

Mr Kenneth Koo, the Chairman of the 19th ASF, said “We call upon the world’s governments to seek a realistic and final solution to this crisis. It is clear that any lasting solution will only be found on land, not at sea, but yet there seems to be very little that is being done on land in Somalia by the world’s governments to stop the activities of these pirates.”
The current press release can be found here:
The Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF) joins forces with a coalition of organisations, ranging from trade unions to shipowners’ associations and insurers, to back a global e-petition, www.endpiracypetition.org, demanding concrete actions to end maritime piracy that is placing seafarers’ lives at risk and threatening the international shipping and the world trade.
***
The Secretary General of ASF, Mr Yuichi Sonoda, also echoed the same sentiments. He added, “As 90% of the world trade is carried by sea, all shippers and cargo owners are also encouraged to join in the e-petition as the cost of piracy could ultimately be passed on to the consumers. Therefore it is paramount for each and every one of us to be actively involved. This e-petition is intended to deliver at least half a million signatures to governments by IMO World Maritime Day on 23 September 2010.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Somali Pirates: UN Maps of 2009 Activity

Maps and analysis of Somali pirate attacks from the United Nations UNOSAT folks from April 2009, covering the period ec 2008 to April 2009UNOSAT: Maps. Older info but useful in looking forward:
This report contains a detailed spatial analysis of the dramatic upsurge of pirate activity in 2009, focusing on changes in attack locations within the Gulf of Aden, changes in the attack success rate by month as well as on the unprecedented expansion of attacks in the Indian Ocean.

Update: From the IMB Live Piracy Map - a look at the some area as covered by UNOSAT but for 2010 to date:
Worth noting that the movement further off the Somali coast has expanded.

Somali Pirates: Shift to Bab Al-Mandab Straits?

Interesting little note on a perceived location shift of Somali pirate forces at Somali Pirates Shift Operations To Bab Al-Mandab Straits:
Somali pirates have shifted their operations from the Gulf of Aden to the Bab al-Mandab Straits, Yemeni news agency reported Tuesday, citing the Interior Ministry as saying.

The ministry said that all measures have been taken to face the move, amid stepped pirate attacks in the region.

Since early June, pirates have attacked more than 10 Yemeni ships and oil tankers in the straits but all attacks were thwarted by the Coastguard and security onboard the ships and tankers, the center said.
The following are recent ICC CCS reports of attacks in the Bab-al-Mandab area:
21.06.2010: 1359 UTC: Posn: 13:32.7N – 042:59.1E: Bab el Mandeb: Red Sea.
Six pirates armed with guns in a skiff chased a bulk carrier underway. The vessel made evasive manoeuvres and enforced anti piracy measures. Pirates in the skiff opened fire on the vessel. Due to effective anti piracy measures the vessel evaded the attack.

18.06.2010: 1343 UTC: Posn: 13:23.6N – 042:44.8E: Bab el-Mandeb straits (Red Sea).
Pirates in two skiffs chased and fired upon a general cargo ship underway with intent to hijack. They attempted to board the vessel using aluminium ladder. Vessel took evasive manoeuvres, mustered all crew and finally managed to evade the hijacking.

15.06.2010: 0530 UTC: Posn: 13:26N – 042:41E: north of Bab el Mandeb, Red Sea.
Three skiffs with six pirates in each chased a tanker underway. The tanker increased speed, sounded ship’s horn and enforced anti piracy measures and warned all ships by VHF Ch. 16. Later pirates aborted the attack.
Among reasons for such a shift would be the Summer Monsoon winds off Somalia as found at WeatherOnline:

UPDATE: From the latest ONI "Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report
(Horn of Africa) for 10 June – 16 June 2010":
5. (U) Forecast for the Week of 17 Jun – 23 Jun 2010
(U) Weather is may still be conducive for pirate small boat operations in the Horn of Africa region but will continue to deteriorate due to the upcoming summer monsoon season. Overall pirate activity is expected to decrease during this time period. Weather conditions during the monsoon season will likely reduce the number of pirate attacks; however, pirates will continue to operate when and where weather conditions permit.  Once it has become fully established over the Somali Basin and North Arabian Sea, monsoon conditions will persist throughout most of June, July and August.  Winds up to 23-28 knots with gusts of 35 knots and sea states up to 20-24 feet are expected. Mariners should continue to maintain all counter-piracy measures when transiting the area. Mariners are strongly encouraged to contact UKMTO and all appropriate authorities when transiting the Gulf of Aden as well as make use of the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). This week, ONI assesses the risk of pirate attacks is low in the Indian Ocean. Pirates will likely continue to operate in the Gulf of Aden where weather conditions are not as severe during the monsoon season. In addition, pirates may attempt to operate in the Southern Red Sea, off the coast of Oman and the Northern Arabian Sea until the monsoons moves into the area.  Pirates may also attempt to operate near the Maldives and east of 075 longitude, which is less impacted by the monsoon season.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Episode 26 Command 6/20/2010 - Midrats | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio


A discussion of the position every Navy and Coast Guard line officer aspires to - command:

Sunday, 20 June 2010, 1700/5pm Eastern U.S. - Episode 26 Command 6/20/2010 - Midrats | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio:
Command at Sea. What does it mean, how do you do it, what it takes to succeed - and more importantly - what are the responsibilities of Command at Sea? Join us for a wide ranging discussion with three present of former Navy and Coast Guard Commanding Officers on the nature of Command. Our guests will be; CDR E. A. Westfall, CDR, USCG, Commanding Officer of the USCGC ESCANABA (WMEC 907). CDR James H. Ware, Commanding Officer, VAQ-135. CDR Michael Junge, USN, former Commanding Officer of the USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41).

Idiots at Sea: "Sea Shepherds" Continue to Act Dangerously -This Time in the Med

Endangering human lives while violating numerous laws, the Sea Shepherd idiots now attack fishermen off Libya, as set out here:
The Federation of Maltese Aquaculture Producers said it was shocked to hear about two Maltese seamen were injured in "a vicious and unprovoked attack by the Sea Shepherds".

"At around 15.00 today the Steve Irwin attacked an Italian tug boat (Cesare Rustico) towing cages belonging to fish & Fish Limited. The tug was sailing in company with the Maltese flagged Rosaria Tuna as a support vessel. The fish had been caught legally by a number of purse seiners operating according to ICCAT regulations, and subsequently purchased by the Maltese farming company. Contrary to what has been stated by the Sea Shepherds the vessel Tagreft was not present," the federation said.

"The Steve Irwin approached the convoy with the intention of freeing the fish in the cages despite it being clear that the fish was caught legally. Though it was also obvious that the crew of the vessels would have resisted such a move it was an unequal struggle. The Steve Irwin was initially constructed as an offshore patrol vessel for the United Kingdom with a displacement of nearly 900grt. It is equipped with a helicopter and instruments designed to overpower fishing boats. On the other hand the tug and the support vessel are small boats each having a displacement of around 150 grt."

The federation said it was not true that those on the Steve Irwin acted in self defence.

"On the contrary those on board assailed the two vessels specifically to tear the cage and ruin the catch. They used rubber bullets to subdue the crew. They threw bottles, acid, ammonia and other stuff at the crew. They didn’t care that their actions were exposing people to danger. They didn’t care that the fish were caught legally. They in fact think they are above the law and can do as they like. They are more than irresponsible. They are armed, dangerous and bent on causing harm to private property."

The federation said it expected the intervention of the Maltese authorities. "Nobody has the right to take the law in his hands. This is a fundamental precept of our way of life and it is certainly not going to be unlawful threats and activities by so-called environmental activists that is going to change it."
As usual, the SS has a different version, but since they lie so routinely, there is no point in quoting them here. Go to the link to see how they attempt justify their dangerous antics. Photos show SS vessel engaging in dangerous action against smaller fishing tug and a SS diver damaging a fishing net.

If those were my nets, I'd be shooting.

Yes, the photos are from the SS site. Nice of them to provide more proof of their reckless behavior.

Somali Piracy: Friday Reading

A look at the problem in "Piracy on an almost industrial scale":
Speaking to Defencemanagement.com before his departure, Rear Admiral Peter Hudson, then Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force operation Atalanta, said that while piracy has been reduced in the Gulf of Aden, piracy off the Somali coast was growing on an "almost industrial scale". Of the two areas that EU NAVFOR patrols, he describes the Gulf of Aden, through which 30,000 ships transit each year, as the most important.
A look at the "trends" in piracy off the Horn of Africa here:
Increased use of firearms on all sides. The shoot-to-kill policy adopted by several navies has led to an increased number of direct fire exchanges. The use of armed personnel and military on fishing vessels has lead to an overall increase of aggression and violence.Taking the attacked vessel and crew immediately under direct fire during a piracy attack was in earlier years unheard of, but is now common. Likewise the the treatment of crews from countries, which have killed or arrested Somalis is declining.
I am not sure what this analysis is based on. The pirates have never hesitated to fire at unarmed ships with both AK-47 and RPGs. Indeed, that's how they have managed to capture ships. Having ships return fire may represent an escalation in risk to the pirates, but hardly to the merchant ship crews (see here, for examples of damage wrought by pirates). In fact, several incidents involving warships taking out pirates have begun with pirates shooting at the warships under the mistaken belief they were shooting at merchant ships (see here).

EU to extend counter-piracy operations off Somalia until at least 2012 as reported here:
The Council of the European Union agreed to extend the mandate for Operation Atalanta for another two years.

The council said it "notes with concern" the impact that piracy was having on regional economic and security issues.
Others assert that the EU effort is a "front" for allowing poaching of Somali fishing waters:
However, critics of the operation suggest that its hidden mission is to protect European vessels accused by Somali seafarers and international organisations of another form of piracy: illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste, including radioactive material, in Somali waters.

One example of the EU’s protection of vessels fishing illegally in the waters of the Horn of Africa is the Spanish tuna fishing boat Alakrana.

In Oct 2009, Somali pirates seized the boat, arguing that it was fishing illegally in Somali waters.

Almost two months later, the Somali pirates released the boat for a ransom of some four million dollars after several attempts by the Spanish army to free the Alakrana had failed.

The Somali allegations that the Alakrana was illegally fishing in the Indian Ocean were never investigated.
I would suggest that the activists with point of view take more concern for the welfare for the hundreds of innocent merchant sailors being held captive by Somali pirate gangs before going too far down this line of thought.In fact, they might make inquiries about the fate of the English yachting couple, the Chandlers, being held by pirates for ransom.


Claude Berube, writing for The Heritage Foundation, tells us why "Stopping Piracy Matters":
Piracy has some direct consequences to the shipping companies who ply the waters, to the sailors whose lives are at risk (some 17 ships and 357 sailors are currently being held for ransom), and to the local economies who are reliant on secure and stable maritime environments. But there are also indirect and longer term consequences. Namely if the U.S. is unwilling or unable to effectively deter piracy how would we respond to another failed or failed state who threaten the high seas? Or, more importantly, if other organizations or states fail to learn from what is happening off Somalia...
UPDATE: A look at the future from the ONIPiracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (Horn of Africa) report:
5. (U) Forecast for the Week of 17 Jun – 23 Jun 2010
(U) Weather is may still be conducive for pirate small boat operations in the Horn of Africa region but will continue to deteriorate due to the upcoming summer monsoon season. Overall pirate activity is expected to decrease during this time period. Weather conditions during the monsoon season will likely reduce the number of pirate attacks; however, pirates will continue to operate when and where weather conditions permit. Once it has become fully established over the Somali Basin and North Arabian Sea, monsoon conditions will persist throughout most of June, July and August. Winds up to 23-28 knots with gusts of 35 knots and sea states up to 20-24 feet are expected. Mariners should continue to maintain all counter-piracy measures when transiting the area. Mariners are strongly encouraged to contact UKMTO and all appropriate authorities when transiting the Gulf of Aden as well as make use of the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). This week, ONI assesses the risk of pirate attacks is low in the Indian Ocean. Pirates will likely continue to operate in the Gulf of Aden where weather conditions are not as severe during the monsoon season. In addition, pirates may attempt to operate in the Southern Red Sea, off the coast of Oman and the Northern Arabian Sea until the monsoons moves into the area. Pirates may also attempt to operate near the Maldives and east of 075 longitude, which is less impacted by the monsoon season.

(U) In the above picture, green represents a reduced risk for small boat activity while red signifies areas with a high likelihood of small boat activity. The waters marked in yellow through red may represent an increased risk to vessels operating in the area and mariners are encouraged to avoid transiting these areas if possible. If necessary to transit these high-risk waters, mariners are warned to maintain a strict watch at all times.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Somali Pirates: Dutch court convicts 5 pirates

Reported here:
A Dutch court has convicted five Somalis of piracy and sentenced them to five years each in prison in the first piracy case to come to trial in Europe.

The five were convicted of attacking a freight ship in the Gulf of Aden in January 2009.

Prosecutors asked for a seven-year sentence, but the judge said he took into account the difficult conditions in Somalia that led the men to piracy.

"It is a lucky coincidence that nobody was killed or wounded" in the attack, said judge Klein Wolterink.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Careers to avoid: Law and . . .

As noted here and at links therein, there are already too many lawyers and too many crummy law schools. If you can't get into a top 10 law school, find another line of work. Not there is vast difference between numbers 1 through 10 and 40 through 50, except for reputation among the hiring partners.

Especially don't bother with "International Law." Chances are the accident victims you may be lucky enough represent won't be involved in international affairs. And don't think you'll walk out of law school able to do anything involving real legal work. Law school doesn't teach that sort of practical knowledge. As some of those links note, law school today looks a lot like a scam.

Save your money and learn to be a plumber, a barber, A/C repairman or some other profession that people will need even in the future. My barber takes regular vacations, unlike many of my younger lawyer friends who are trying to pay back a zillion dollars worth of student loans that they can't discharge in bankruptcy.

In fact, even if you want to go to law school, get a barber's license (or whatever) first for all those days you'll be out of work.

I wouldn't spend any money getting a journalism degree either.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oil Platform Disaster: Mapping the Mess

Nice interactive map from NOAA here:

Somalia: World Cup fans executed

Why people ought to be concerned about the more radical elements of Islamist movements represented in the article-  World Cup fans executed :
Islamic miliants have executed two Somali football fans for watching Nigeria play Argentina on Saturday night.

The deaths happened in Central Somalia which is under strict Islamic law and forbids anyone in the region from watching World Cup matches.

Militants from Hizbul Islam arrested 10 fans who were also part of the group.

A further 30 people were arrested for watching the Australia vs Germany game the following night.

Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Aros, a spokesman for the militants, said that, "We are warning all the youth of Somalia not to dare watch these World Cup matches." He said that the people of Somalia should focus on pursuing jihad and not, "watching mad men jump up and down."
No word yet from other religious groups about executions they've conducted because of people watching the World Cup.

New, Cheaper Littoral Fighters: Someone is going "EagleSpeak" in their thinking



According to the May issue of Marine News:
Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc. is in final negotiations for a two-boat contract for 180-ft multi-role security vessels. This vessel is based on Horizon’s 170-ft and 182-ft fast crew supply boats delivered in 2008 and 2009. The MRSV will be constructed of aluminum and is envisioned to be powered by four Cummins Q-60 diesel engines driving four Hamilton waterjets. Armed with machine guns and a 25mm bow mounted rapid-fire cannon, the MRSV will patrol the waters surrounding offshore oil fields, protecting them from terrorists, pirates and other threats. Armor plating will envelop the house as well as vital machinery spaces to protect the vessel from small arms fire. The MRSV will be capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots and will accommodate eight passengers in addition to the crew.
I don't know who the negotiations are with, but I think this is an excellent idea (as you might learn from visiting here, Multi-Purpose Offshore Patrol Vessels, Department of Cheaper Pirate Fighting, Department of Crazy Ideas: How about a cheap inshore fleet? and all the links therein).

Top drawing is from Marine News article and shows armed vessel. Lower photos are from Horizon Shipbuilding and show their 175' and 182' fast crew supply vessels.


Looks like they would be perfect pirate and inshore patrol craft.

UPDATE: DJ Elliot notes in the comments a similarity to some Iraqi Navy OSVs allegedly to be built by RiverHawk Fast Sea Frames LLC. See  here:
When Naval Sea Systems put out a solicitation for these vessels last year on behalf of the Iraqi Government, specifications included that they be a steel mono-hull design with a hull length overall at water line of at least 55 meters but not greater than 65 meters with a draft: not greater than 5-meters (planned depth of water at low tide of the Umm Qasr pier. Range was specified at not less than 1,500 nautical miles, speed as 16 knots and endurance: not less than 15 days.

The OSV was to be capable of launching, recovering, refueling, and maintaining three 9-meter FABs and be capable of mooring, refueling, and providing potable water to a 35-meter Patrol Boat (PB),

Capability requirements included high hover helicopter vertical replenishment during day time

Deck space was to be provided for one 30 mm gun and four .50 cal machine gun weapons stations.


Cool.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Somali Piracy Atacks 13 June 2010

As reported by NATO Shipping Centre:
13. June 2010
WARNING Attempted Attack
Somali Basin, Indian Ocean, Latitude: 16 12N, Longitude: 059 57E
Alert number 380 / 2010
At 1301 UTC a merchant vessel was currently under attack by 2 skiffs in position 1612N 05957E

------------------------------------------------
13. June 2010
WARNING Pirate Attack
GOA IRTC, Latitude: 1324N Longitude: 04925E
Alert number 379 / 2010.
At 1234 UTC a merchant tanker was attacked by 1 white skiff in position 13 24N 049 25E.
UPDATE: Wind pattern might help explain the locations of the recent attacks (click on the maps to enlarge):

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

NY Times reports U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan:
The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
So, now, will Code Pink tell us "it's all about lithium?"

In any event, compare the June 2008 DoD map of known Afghan minerals (upper map) with the NY Times map (lower map) accompanying the referenced article:

 Look pretty similar, don't they? Except, of course, for those values off to the right.

Click to enlarge the maps.

As the Times piece notes, this is poses some interesting questions to all the players in the latest Afghan war.

UPDATE: And the whining over "exploitation" of Afghan potential riches begins.