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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Psychics Warn: "Al Qaeda is coming!"

Here the psychic "network" line - get ready for a new "Mumbai-style plot":
The current psychic warnings, which hit the Internet in late August, concerned a series of at least four to five attacks at locations in England and France, and appear to have foreshadowed the current situation being reported by the mainstream media.
The "where" and the "when" are a little vague - though ferry boats, wharfs, the U.S., England, France and Germany get mentioned.

In other words, the psychics are saying that you should be sort of generally afraid of things that have happened in the past and may happen again, somewhere, sometime..

My "psychic" prediction: People will continue to believe psychics based on their claiming to be right part of the time. Read about what John Allen Paulos labeled the "Jean Dixon Effect" here.

If I predict that you or someone you know will be involved in a car accident within the year, I will be right. Given the number of people reading this and the odds of one of them being in or knowing someone who will be in an auto accident in the next year is pretty staggering.

If I predict there will be a "terrorist" event in the U.S., German, or England . . . come on, that's a lot of turf and a loose definition of terrorism. I'm almost bound to be right.

My psychic powers? Well, the odds are that you will make it out of bed tomorrow, by the way - I mean I can see that you will -uh- drink a chemical containing hydrogen and oxygen in the next 48 hours. And so forth.

Now, if only I could predict the winning numbers in the Mega Lottery . . .

Valid points made in "Don't be terrorized".

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Somali Pirates Grab Asphalt Tanker

Reported here
The Panama-flagged, 3,884dwt asphalt/bitumen carrier Asphalt Venture was seized at 0358 local time about 7 degrees south and 41 degrees east in the Indian Ocean, according to Ecoterra International.
The ship, which was in ballast and carrying 15 Indian crew, had “turned around and obviously is commandeered [by pirates] northwards to Somalia”. . .

Hat tip: Bryan

Iran: "Stealth" Flying Boats Join IRGC Force As Squadron

A little (okay, much) overlap in the following videos showing Iran's latest asymmetric weapon system being deployed by the Iranian Republican Guard (IRGC):

In Western terms, these might be called "targets."

However, the Iranian Press TV report:
Iran takes the design and manufacturing of domestic-built military hardware to a new level by delivering stealth flying boats to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

"Bavar 2," is a radar-evading fixed-wing seaplane capable of patrol and reconnaissance missions. At least 11 flying boats joined the IRGC fleet on Tuesday after an official ceremony.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said the new delivery was in line with the country's efforts to boast regional security.

"Equipping the country's Naval and Armed forces with advanced and modern weaponry will bolster the stability and security of the region and play an effective role in consolidating Iran's deterrent power," a statement on the Defense Ministry's website quoted Vahidi as saying.

The country has finished several major defense projects this year, despite several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions targeting Iranian military and financial sectors over Western allegations that Tehran is following a military nuclear program.

Iran will soon unveil and launch the second generation of Jamaran destroyers, Sina class frigates as well as a new generation of submarines, Commander of the Iranian Army Major General Ataollah Salehi announced last Wednesday.

In August, the Iranian Navy was equipped with four more domestically-made stealth Ghadir class mini-submarines.
And, actually, these mini-wing in ground thingies have been mocked before here.

UPDATE: Of course, one question for the IRGC is - suppose your initial stealthy attack doesn't send your hated enemy to the sea floor? And you lose almost all of your boats and WIGs. What's your follow up?

Just asking . . .

Memo to fleet. Order some more 20mm ammo and a few more Hellfires. Suicide attacks en masse are back in fashion for the IRGC.

And you might wanna rustle up a AC130-like version of the Osprey. Just for fun.

Somali Pirates: Death Sentence

BBC reports "Pirate ringleader faces execution in Somalia":
A pirate ringleader has been sentenced to death by a court in the breakaway Somali state of Puntland.

Salah Mohamed Gelle faces execution for murdering Sayid Jacfar, the Pakistani skipper of hijacked cargo ship the MV QSM Dubai, in early June.

Seven other pirates who took part in the assault were sentenced to jail terms of between 10 and 17 years.

Some were also ordered to pay fines of about $2,000 (£1,260) by the court in Bossasso, Puntland's business capital.

"Salah Mohamed Gelle, the first defendant was found guilty of killing the captain Sayid Jacfar and therefore was sentenced to execution," said Mohamed Yusuf, the presiding judge, according to AFP news agency.
It appears it's the murder, not the piracy, that brings the penalty.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Navy Gulf of Aden Rescue Effort Saves 61 but 24 missing or dead

Eighty-five people in a disabled "migrant" boat adrift in the Gulf of Aden . . . resulted in a rescue and tragedy as set out here:
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), assigned to
Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, identified a skiff drifting in the Gulf of Aden Sept. 26.

The skiff was initially discovered at approximately 7:30 a.m. local by the Republic of Korea vessel, ROKN Wan Geon (DDG 978), which passed the skiff's position to Winston S. Churchill, operating in the vicinity.

The skiff was carrying approximately 85 passengers, consisting of 10 Somalis and 75 Ethiopians.

Once on station, CTF 151 commander, Turkish navy Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul, directed Winston S. Churchill to render assistance to the skiff. Using a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB), Churchill crew members boarded the skiff and immediately rendered assistance, providing food and water to the skiff's passengers.

Churchill crew members determined the engines were inoperable and attempted to effect repairs, but were unsuccessful.

The RHIB then began towing the vessel to safety out of the Gulf's maritime traffic corridor and toward the coast of Somalia.

At 8:30 local Sept. 27, while transferring humanitarian supplies to the skiff, the passengers rushed to one side and the skiff began taking on water, quickly capsizing and sinking rapidly, leaving all 85 passengers in the water. Winston S. Churchill immediately began conducting search and rescue operations using an additional RHIB assisted by an Australian maritime patrol aircraft.

Despite the effort, approximately 13 passengers drowned, while 61 passengers were rescued and brought safely on board Winston S. Churchill. Eight passengers have been listed as missing.
Take a close look at the boat jammed with people, figure that they were being smuggled across the Gulf of Aden in a human smuggling operation . . . this tragedy was written long before Churchill showed up.

Sad, very sad.

Tanzanian navy fights Somali pirates, captures one

Radio Netherlands reports Tanzanian navy captures pirate in sea battle:
The incident happened on Sunday night off the South Tanzanian coast, in an area where oil and gas firm Ophir Energy has an exploration vessel.

"The navy vessel was seriously damaged and was pierced, with at least 50 bullet holes,"a Regional Police Commander Steven Buyuya said.

Two Tanzanian soldiers were wounded. After the clash, navy and police boats chased the pirate boat. They arrested one suspected pirate, who was brought to Dar es Salaam for interrogation, but the others escaped.
Recent reports indicate Tanzania has been boosting its anti-pirate capacity with some help from other countries.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Somali Pirates Take Ship 900 miles at Sea

EU MSC(HOA)report MV LUGELA pirated in the Somali Basin:
In the early hours of 25 September, the Panama flagged MV LUGELA sent a distress alert to its Greek operator.

The vessel was in the Somali Basin, approximately 900 nautical miles East of Eyl, Somalia. A short while later, the vessel altered course to sail towards the Somali coast. There has been no contact with the ship throughout this incident.

After having transited through the Gulf of Aden, the MV LUGELA was sailing in direction of Republic of Mauritius with a cargo of steel bars and wires. The MV LUGELA, deadweight 4,281 tons, has a crew of 12, all Ukrainian.

UPDATE: The ship has been released by the pirates according to the the EU MSC(HOA) here:

The Panama flagged MV LUGELA, which was reported on 25 September as been pirated, 900 nautical miles east of Eyl, in the Somali Basin, had been abandoned by pirates.

Late on 26 September, the company owning the ship stated that the pirates had abandoned the vessel and that it was now underway to a place of safety. The 12 Ukrainian crew are reported to be safe and EU NAVFOR is monitoring the situation.
UPDATE2: I find this pirate move odd, but it's not the first time. See here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Terrrorism at Sea Warning

A reliable source indicates that there is a "terrorism warning" in effect for ships in the eastern Mediterranean:
A terrorist threat is currently applying on vessels located in the eastern Mediterranean, East of longitude 033°30’E.
Ships are urged to remain alert, travel at higher speeds and avoid closing small craft.

UPDATED: Better map. Area to the right of the red line is "East of longitude 033°30’E."

Somali Pirates: EU Spanish LPD Takes Out Some Pirate Boats

EU MSC (HOA) reports The spanish warship “GALICIA” disrupts a pirate action group off the Somali coasts:
September 22, EU NAVFOR Spanish ship GALICIA disrupted a pirate action group, comprised of one whaler and two skiffs.

Galicia was patrolling off the east coast of Somalia and thanks to detailed information gathering, the Spanish ship was able to intercept two skiffs and the whaler.
The group was located at night only 500 meters from the Somali coast by one of Galicia’s helicopters, which started the preparation for the interception.

This one was completed without any opposition from the 11 suspected pirates. The whaler and skiffs carried all pirate paraphernalia indicating they were preparing to conduct acts of piracy off the coasts (fuel drums, ladders, weapons and ammunition.

As none of the pirates were caught in an act of piracy, although conspiracy was clearly stated, it was not possible to proceed with a prosecution. However, everything that could be used to conduct piracy was seized and the whaler and one skiff were destroyed.
Keeping the bad guys from getting to sea . . . blockade those pirates!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Somali Pirates: NATO September 2010 Somali Piracy Overview

From our NATO friends, a nice overview of Somali piracy as of September 14, 2010:

Unclassified Somali Piracy Overview Brief - TRANSEC Sept 2010

A Shippping Container Full of Explosives

I wonder if anyone will come forward and claim the contents of a shipping container of explosives now being held by the Italian police?:
Italian police have seized seven tons of the powerful RDX explosive which they found in a shipping container they believe were likely destined for a terrorist organization.

While the origin and destination of the contraband is still being investigated, police are convinced the huge amount of explosive was in transit, possibly from Iran to Syria.
Probably not.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hmmm: A worm for Iran?

 CNET report Expert: Stuxnet was built to sabotage Iran nuclear plant
An industrial control security researcher in Germany who has analyzed the Stuxnet computer worm is speculating that it may have been created to sabotage a nuclear plant in Iran.

I guess we won't know for awhile, if ever.

The bottom picture shows the worm nearing the reactor facility. That's a big worm.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Somali Pirates: Warnings

Somali Pirate Warnings:
September 21, 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 06 59N Longitude: 049 24E
Alert number 408 / 2010.

Pirated FV PRANTALAY 14 left Garacad anchorage (06 59N 049 24E) in the morning of the 20 SEP.
Three skiffs and three ladders were sighted on board. The FV is probably involved in mother ship operations.

September 20, 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 01 17N Longitude: 052 51E
Alert number 407 / 2010.

At 0847 UTC on 19th SEP a Pirate Action Group consisting of 1 white wooden skiff (approx 5m long) and 1 blue fibreglass whaler (approx 10m long) was reported in position 01 17N 052 51 E.
 Monsoon weather in the area is beginning to clear allowing small boat operation in the Indian Ocean and raises the possibility of increased pirate attacks, though it's still brisk. See the wind maps on the right side.

Meanwhile, the Thai Navy is going pirate hunting:
Two Thai navy ships with 351 sailors and 20 special warfare troops on board have set sail for the Gulf of Aden to take part in the hunt for pirates off the coast of Somalia. The mission marks the first time Thailand has sent forces overseas to protect its own interest. The HTMS Pattani (OPV 511) and HTMS Similan (Oiler) left yesterday with two helicopters lashed to the decks from Chuk Samet port at Chon Buri's Sattahip naval base to join a 28-country effort to police the shipping lanes off the Somali coast, which has become a piracy hotbed.
The use of the fishing boat extends the pirate's range substantially.

UPDATE: USS Kaufffman (FFG-59) busy stopping attacks:
Yesterday afternoon the helicopter from NATO warship USS KAUFFMAN located a suspicious skiff with five suspected pirates on board. USS KAUFFMAN is operating as part of NATO’s maritime counter-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden. As USS KAUFFMAN closed to investigate the skiff, the nearby helicopter of coalition warship ENDURANCE from the Singapore Navy, operating with Combined Task Force 151, also closed to support.
“The level of cooperation between navies is exceptional,” said Commander Dale W. Maxey, Commanding Officer aboard USS KAUFFMAN. “We may represent different nations but we all have the same goal in mind - to deter piracy in the area.”
As both helicopters approached, the pirates threw a long ladder, which they use to scale innocent merchant ships, in to the sea, together with other pirate related items. As soon as she was close enough, USS KAUFFMAN sent her boarding team to search the skiff, and so ensure the suspected pirates could no longer pose a threat to shipping.
RSS Endurance is an LPD. Photos are of class ships.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Somali Pirates: EU naval force blockades pirate group

You can call it whatever you like, but I call it a blockade (look at Section II, Methods of Warfare, Sect 93 to 108).

What am I referring to? This - EU naval force flagship disrupts large pirate group:
On 17 September, while executing a patrol along the Somali coastline, the crew of EU NAVFOR ship FS DE GRASSE located and disrupted a Pirate Action Group comprising of six boats. She thus prevented them from reaching the shipping lanes on the high seas to conduct attacks on merchant vessels.

On 16 September, the helicopter from the EU NAVFOR ship FS DE GRASSE was conducting a routine patrol when it spotted suspicious boats on a beach, loaded with pirate paraphernalia (ladders, fuel tanks…), indicating the imminent departure to sea of a Pirate Action Group.

The following morning, the same helicopter from FS DE GRASSE relocated this same group at sea. This time, the Pirate Action Group comprised of several skiffs and a whaler; a boat of larger size and often used as a refuelling asset without which the skiffs cannot sail far enough to conduct attacks.

A first skiff of this group was quickly disrupted by the boarding team of FS DE GRASSE and was sent back to shore, having removed all the pirate paraphernalia. The French destroyer then steamed at high speed towards a second position provided by her helicopter to intercept the whaler. Once the whaler had been placed under surveillance, the boarding team of FS DE GRASSE chased and successfully disrupted the two remaining skiffs that were still in range.

In total, twelve suspected pirates and four boats (three skiffs and one whaler) were intercepted; two further skiffs fled the scene. As none of the pirates were caught in the act of piracy, it was not possible to proceed with a prosecution under international law. However, all of the equipment which could have been used for an attack was seized and one whaler and one skiff were destroyed.

Despite having to release the pirates, this action by the EU NAVFOR ship FS DE GRASSE has disrupted a pirate group’s action and successfully prevented them from reaching high seas to commit acts of piracy against vulnerable merchant vessels.
You know, when you prevent the bad guys from going to sea to do harm, that's a blockade. And a damn good idea.

EU Photo captions and my comments (top to bottom) (click on pictures to enlarge them):

"The whaler intercepted by EU NAVFOR was used as a logistical asset for the five skiffs."
I guess this is the "whaler" that had to be destroyed. Note the large amount of fuel. The pirates appear to have been ready to engage in some serious "ship hunting."

EU NAVFOR FS DE GRASSE, the whaler, and the warship's boarding team (from right to left)
Note the beach in the background. the De Grasse is not doing high seas patrols . . .

Update: more thoughts on blockading the Somali pirates:

Here, here, and here.

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Episode 37 The November Election and National Security 9/19/2010 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Sunday, 5pm Episode 37 The November Election and National Security 9/19/2010 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:
Six-and-a-half weeks from the NOV 2010 election with economic issues dominating the debate, what are the national security implications if the one or both Houses of Congress switch from Dem to Rep? What, if any, national security issues are part of the "Tea Party" movement - and what will possible new-comers such as Rand Paul and Marco Rubio bring to DC? Our guests to discuss will be Mackenzie Eaglen, Research Fellow for National Security and James S. Robbins is Senior Editorial Writer for Foreign Affairs at the Washington Times. He is also author of the books "This Time We Win" and "Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point," and a political commentator and contributing editor for National Review Online.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Somali PIrates: VLCC "Mother Ship" - Just a change of pirate port?

Tradwinds reports Samho Dream ‘off Garacad’:
Mystery continues to surround a hijacked Korean VLCC which TradeWinds has learned has moved from one notorious Somali pirate lair to another.

The 319,000-dwt Samho Dream (built 2002) is now said to be a short distance off the coast of Garacad in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

The reason for its move from the town of Hobyo some way south of this spot earlier this week, however, remains shrouded in mystery.
Garacad is a popular prate ship holding area.

Yes, I am one of those who speculated about why the ship sailed from Hobyo.

In my defense, I did write here, "Well, this seems an unlikely "mother ship" to me - it's awfully big. But perhaps the pirates lack a more suitable vessel."

Maybe they just moved it to get it further away from the al-Shabab crowd. Map from the "Ecoterra" group, which keeps an eye on the Somali pirates from a - well-  different perspective than mine. Here's part of their report dated August 26, 2010:
VLCC SAMHO DREAM: Seized April 02, 2010. The Marshall Islands-registered "Samho Dream", a 300,000t oil tanker owned by South Korea's Samho Shipping, was seized by three Somali pirates in waters some 1,500 km south-east of the Gulf of Aden at around 16:10 Seoul time (0710 GMT). There are a total of 24 crew members on board, including five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos. The 319,000 dwt very large crude carrier was on its way from Iraq to Louisiana of the United States. The Samho Dream, which was built in 2002, is carrying crude oil that could be worth as much as $170 million at current oil prices. The vessel had been commandeered to Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast  and is now anchored 4.6nm off the beach. The South Korean government ordered their destroyer Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin out of the Somali waters and back to its working routine in the Gulf of Aden, but still there are two warships keeping a watch close by, staging mock attacks and caused tension on board, which made the pirates to issue a statement that they would blow up the oil-tanker if the harassment would not stop and no ransom would be paid. soon. Though negotiations with the owners are ongoing no conclusion has been reached. The vessel was moved from Hobyo, where she was held since her capture until the advancement of Al-Shabaab spearheaded Hizb-ul-Islam groups, to Garacad, but was returned to Hobyo. The pirates' demand has not been accepted by the company.
Hat tip to Bryan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Constitution Day

Happy 223!

UPDATE: True story - I walked into a room with 30 lawyers in it and wished everyone "Happy Constitution Day!"

Got about 30 blank looks in return.

We need to work on this celebration of one of the miracles of human intelligence.

Syria to Get Advanced Anti-Ship Missiles from Russia

Not good news Syria to Get Advanced Anti-Ship Missiles from Russia:
Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has announced that his country will sell advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, as agreed in a 2007 contract. Israel has expressed concern that the deal will endanger Israeli ships in the Mediterranean. The United States had also objected to the deal.
The missiles that will be sold to Damascus are P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles. They can carry a warhead weighing up to 200 kilograms, have a range of 300 kilometers, and are difficult to detect due to their ability to cruise near the water's surface.

Silliest quote:
Serdyukov said Russia sees “no cause for the concern” expressed by the U.S. and Israel. Russia does not believe that the weapons will make it into terrorist hands, he said.

About the P-800 here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So, Iran, you got "high speed boats?" - Better practice defending against this!

From Agent Zoo Social Media, the
Seabreacher X:

Made by Innespace, apparently in California. I think that's Lake Oroville, but I could be wrong.

Movie quote: "I have got to get me one of these!"
Name the movie.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Somali Pirates: A Great Big "Mother Ship"? Or a Weapon?

Platts reports that the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center says some Somali pirates have gotten underway in a Very Large Crude Carrier for use as a "Mother Ship" for conducting piracy operations:
In an advisory sent to ship captains, the PRC warned ships to keep away from the 320,000 dwt crude carrier, which was taken by the pirates from the Indian Ocean.

"On September 14 morning, hijacked MV Samho Dream departed from Somalia with pirates on board ... the tanker was sighted heading east and 80 nautical miles from Somali coast. The tanker may be used to conduct pirate mother ship operations to attack other vessels," the PRC advisory said.

"All vessels are advised to keep clear of MV Samho Dream and report her position to the centre."

The Samho Dream, which is owned by South Korea's Samho Shipping Corp., had 24 crew members -- five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos ? when it was hijacked on April 4.
Well, this seems an unlikely "mother ship" to me - it's awfully big. But perhaps the pirates lack a more suitable vessel.

On the other hand, if I were going to sail a ship that could pose a threat, a fully loaded VLCC might be just the thing.

The danger of an oil spill raises stakes in dealing with this situation.

The possibility of taking this thing into a restricted strait or channel and ramming other ships? I bet she picks up an escort naval vessel PDQ. Lurking at a safe distance, of course.

Keep an eye on this. It could get very interesting.

UPDATE: Of course, one other threat is engage in eco-piracy by threatening the crude oil in the ship - "if you don't pay, we'll open the valves and ..."

Or maybe they have a buyer for the stuff . . .

UPDATE2: A pirate "lord" yuks it up before the big move, millions of dollars poured into the sand, while this jackass lectures us on his down-trodden people. Well, stop the piracy, set up a legitimate Coast Guard and enforce Somali fishing rights. But quit whining while enjoying the fruits of your piracy. Really.

West Africa "Piracy": Cameroon Harbor Attacks

A couple of kidnappings and some robberies of ship crews of vessels moored in Douala Harbor are worthy of note as set out in "Shipping Piracy Moves To West African Coast" from the Handy Shipping Guide:
The fashion for piracy has seemingly moved directly across the continent with several attacks taking place on Sunday 12th September in the harbour at Douala. An armed gang roamed the moorings and attacked two vessels terrorising the crews and robbing them of valuables.

After the initial assaults the gang attacked a trailing suction hopper dredger, the Amerigo Vespucci, and despite some resistance, seized two crew members, one Filipino, the other Croatian.
Robberies of a similar sort happen in ports around the world and do not meet the UNCLOS definition of "piracy" ("high seas" being a required location).

On the other hand, the International Maritime Bureau has long taken a more expansive view of piracy, a matter of an email exchange that I had with Noel Choong, director of the International Maritime Bureau's anti-piracy office a couple of years ago (see here). The IMB has a commendable goal of saving ship crews and improving safety and takes in a broader scope of crimes against shipping is covered by the UNCLOS definition.

Call it what you will, there are a couple of kidnapped sailors at risk and that is the real concern here.

Piracy. robbery and kidnapping are not new visitors to West Africa, though, as the following IMB derived maps show:

Ship photo from the owner's website here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

South China Sea Piracy: Tankers Most Often Hit by Pirates off Pulau Mangkai

Platts reports Tankers targeted most in South China Sea piracy attacks: watchdog. This is based on a RECAAP report that can be downloaded here as ICS Special Report 3/10.

In 2010 to date, 16 attacks on merchant vessels have occurred within 60 miles of the island Pulau Mangkai. (see nearby ReCAAP map).

Fifteen of the attacks succeeded, resulting in robbery and assault of the crews. The loot has included cash, radios and computers. Weapons shown by the pirates include guns and long knives.

Despite the Platts' headline, the ReCAAP ISC states that "No specific types of ships were targeted."

A slightly larger number of tankers of various types have been attacked. My view is that with lower freeboards, tankers are easier to climb aboard for the pirates.

ReCAAP is calling for a similar agreement among the countries of the area as that which greatly slowed attacks in the Strait of Malacca. See my earlier post on this topic.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Before Arizona: "Border Emergency Declared in New Mexico" - in 2005

See - Border emergency declared in New Mexico - Aug 13, 2005:
Richardson's declaration makes $750,000 in state emergency funds available to Dona Ana, Luna, Grant and Hidalgo counties.

Richardson pledged an additional $1 million in assistance for the area, his office said in a news release.

He said on CNN that the funds will be used to hire additional law enforcement personnel and pay officers overtime.

In announcing the state of emergency, Richardson -- a Democrat who served in President Clinton's Cabinet -- criticized the "total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress" in helping protect his state's residents along the border.
And my post on the topic at the time where I wrote here:
By ignoring minor incursions, we now have a much larger and more complex issue to deal with. While I am not a fan of Governor Richardson, I do admire his effort to do something now on this problem. I can only hope the politicos in Washington will act cuanto antes to make sure we remain a country open to legimate immigrants and genuine guest workers who are willing to obey our laws. Law breakers and scofflaws deserve no special treatment. I cannot imagine that we can long continue to allow this particular "broken window" to remain unrepaired.
Of course, with a Hispanic governor and a Republican president, the New Mexico shout out mostly was an attempt to embarrass the Bush Administration and did not receive the attention that the Arizona law and situation has, with cries of racism and all. In fact, I don't think Rev. Sharpton even phoned.

In fact, I can't recall any suggestions at the time that New Mexico be boycotted...

Of course, some NM legislator had a short memory as seen here:
Maestas says, "We should immediately start an ad campaign saying 'Come to New Mexico — we're not Arizona'."
Nice. Welcome illegal border crossers from a foreign country and insult a neighboring state.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Somali Pirates: US aims at reversing dismissal of piracy indictment

The U.S. attorneys in Norfolk's Somali pirate trial are aiming at the judge's dismissal of the "piracy" count of the charges brought against the defendants, as reported by the Washington Examiner US appealing dismissal of piracy indictment :
The U.S. government is appealing a federal judge's decision to dismiss piracy charges against five Somali defendants accused in an April attack on a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Africa.

Prosecutors signaled their intent to appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a filing Friday in federal court in Norfolk, where the five are scheduled for trial. They also are seeking to delay the start of the trial, scheduled for Oct. 19, while they seek to have the piracy ruling overturned by the Richmond appeals court.

U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson on Aug. 17 dismissed the most serious charge against the Somali nationals, concluding the government failed to make the case that the men's alleged actions met the legal definition of piracy.
I suspect a basis for the appeal will be the trial court's failure to accept that certain international treaties should be used in considering what the definition of "piracy" is. While the United States is not a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it is a signatory to the predecessor to that Convention - the 1958 Convention on the Law of the Sea. Article 15 of the 1958 Convention reads:
Article 15
Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(1) Any illegal acts of violence, detention or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(a) On the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
(b) Against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(2) Any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(3) Any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph 1 or subparagraph 2 of this article.
Shooting at ships, even if boarding is not accomplished, would seem to fall under paragraph 1 of Article 15. This argument was raised at the pretrial hearing and dismissed by the judge.

We'll see if the Court of Appeals in Richmond has a differing view.

As noted in my first post on this dismissal (here), lots of legal wise men feel the judge was in error:
. . . Prof. Eugene Kontorovich quoted here:
...The Law of the Sea treaty clearly includes attempts as part of piracy. Here the judge errs in claiming the U.S. did not ratify the treaty: it ratified the 1958 version of the treaty that had the same piracy language. And Washington accepts the current UNCLOS as stating customary international law. Moreover, the Executive has in recent times treated attempt as part of piracy. In 2006 the US Navy captured some Somalis in the Gulf of Aden and turned them over for trial in Kenya on piracy charges (the first such handover). The incident involved an attempted piracy.

The opinion’s due process argument is also pretty weak. If one is on notice that piracy is illegal under international law, isn’t one also on notice that trying to commit it will also get you in trouble, especially when as in this case the attempt failed not through lack of trying, but solely because of resistance by the would-be-victim?

Perhaps we'll see a ruling that "piracy, like pornography, is hard to define, but you know when you see it." (see Justice Stewart's concurring opinion in JACOBELLIS v. OHIO, 378 U.S. 184 (1964)).

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Somali Pirates Meet the U.S. Marines - Pirates Lose

From the Wall Street Journal U.S. Marines Retake Ship From Pirates
U.S. Marines early Thursday boarded and seized control of a German-owned commercial vessel that had been commandeered by pirates, in what appeared to be the first American-led military boarding of its kind amid a recent surge of attacks in the Gulf of Aden and along the east coast of Africa.

See also this on the Marines from the U.S. Naval Insitute Blog Pirates Beware: Force Recon Really Does Have Your Number:
“We got word that the pirates wanted to stay on and fight — it was funny b/c when we came alongside and they saw us board and rush the superstructure, you could see the look change in their eyes…they didn’t want to play anymore…you’d be proud of the men today, they represented America with honor. It didn’t need to be a bloodless day (for the pirates) but it was…

The guys executed with the highest violence of action, and yet, highest level of restraint, I’ve ever seen.”
For an earlier blog post by the Marine Captain with this unit, Alex Martin, on the nature of piracy, see The Reality of Piracy.

Marines doing what Marines were meant to do, taking the fight to the enemy at sea.

UPDATE: Photo added. Photo info:
Helicopters from USS Dubuque (LPD 8) provide aerial watch as U.S. Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force, embarked on Dubuque, right, boarded and seized control of Antigua and Barbuda-flagged, German-owned vessel M/V Magellan Star, left, early Sept. 9. Pirates attacked and boarded Magellan Star Sept. 8. Dubuque is part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the multinational task force established by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali basin. (U.S. Navy photo by Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class William Farmerie)
From NavCent press release:
MANAMA, Bahrain – At approximately 5 a.m. local time, Sept. 9, 24 U.S. Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force (MRF) aboard USS Dubuque (LPD 8) operating under Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), boarded and seized control of Antigua-Barbuda-flagged, German–owned vessel M/V Magellan Star from pirates who attacked and boarded the vessel early Sept 8.

This successful mission by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) secured the safety of the ship’s crew and returned control of the ship to the civilian mariners. Nine pirates are currently under control of CTF 151, pending further disposition. This ship’s crew has not reported any injuries or casualties. There were no reported injuries from the U.S. Maritime Raid Force.

The CTF-151 flagship, TCG Gökçeada, a Turkish frigate, was the first ship on scene, responding to a distress call received from Magellan Star, Sept. 8. Two additional warships assigned to CTF-151, USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Princeton (CG 59) arrived in the vicinity of the attack to provide support to Gökçeada.

Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul, commander, CTF-151 said, “units from the multi-national maritime force, under Combined Task Force 151, are actively engaged in anti-piracy operations. This regional problem, truly, has global impact and we are completely committed to bringing the disruptive acts of piracy to an end. We have full support of the international community and will continue to do everything possible to bring security to the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.”

CTF-151 is one of three task forces operated by the 25 nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). CTF-151 was established in January 2009 in order to deter, disrupt, and suppress piracy, protecting maritime vessels of all nationalities and securing international freedom of navigation.
BZ to everyone involved!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Somali Pirates: Pirates Grab Ship in Gulf of Aden

Reported here:
Pirates earlier today hijacked a Malta-flagged cargo ship carrying a crew of 15 Georgians and three Turks in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, the European Union's anti-piracy mission said.

A US warship deployed a helicopter to check on the ship after several unsuccessful attemps to make contact with the Olib G, a 6,375-tonne vessel, the EU mission said in a statement.

"The helicopter was able to identify two pirates on board," the EU Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) said.

The ship had been sailing west in the internationally recommended transit corridor, an area where international navies coordinate the patrol of maritime transits, the statement said.
Update: Photo from MSC(HOA).

Update2: Map from IMB Live Piracy Report

Naval War Gaming Issues of Humanitarian Issues Raised by Environmental Disasters

The title says, "The Coming Conflicts of Climate Change", but really it was about "natural disasters" and the consequences thereof:
The case of Pakistan reflects how natural disasters can weigh on U.S. national security considerations. Interest in these types of contingencies is such that the U.S. Navy recently conducted a gaming exercise at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, to study scenarios where the Navy might have to support U.S. or international relief efforts to help maintain regional and global stability. In each scenario, a climate-induced disaster (or disasters) triggered catastrophic death tolls, migration, and panic affecting regional or global security and spurring the UN Security Council to issue a humanitarian response resolution. This was the first time the Navy had conducted a gaming exercise to determine how to respond to climate-induced challenges. This unique effort brought together climate scientists, water experts, health practitioners, logisticians, diplomats, aid workers, and military officers to think through possible response options.

The exercise follows a real world trend of Navy support for humanitarian aid missions and responses to natural disasters at home and abroad.
I leave it to you to decide about the "climate change" aspect of the report, but I note that the U.S. Navy was heavily involved in two massive relief efforts caused by the shifting of the earth's crust - earthquakes - with its work in the Christmas Tsunami and Haiti. Closer to home, the Navy also provided assistance following the San Francisco earthquake and fire and many other such events.

See here, here, and here and the post found by clicking on the "Disaster Relief from the Sea" label below.

Still, nice to see an exercise devoted to the topic.

Photo info: PANO AQUIL (Sept. 4, 2010) An aerial view of flooding in Pakistan taken from a an CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the White Knights of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM-165) Reinforced. The squadron is embarked aboard the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5). Peleliu and embarked U.S. Navy and Marine Corps units are conducting humanitarian assistance missions in flooded areas of Pakistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Paul Duncan/Released)

Piracy and Medical Concerns

A PowerPoint show by Dr. William A. Freeland on general issues Piracy and the Ships Medical Adviser:

Occupational Health, Piracy and the Ships Medical Adviser -

Nice to know someone is thinking about the crews.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Piracy Conviction in Kenya

European Union Naval Force Somalia - Operation Atalanta | Verdict for the first EU NAVFOR case in Kenya:
The conviction involved seven Somali men accused of acts of piracy. The presiding Chief Magistrate, the Hon Rosemelle Mutoka CM, delivered the verdict at the Mombasa Law Courts on 6 September, sentencing the seven Somali men accused to prison sentences of five years as from the judgement date.

The conviction relates to the attack on the FGS SPESSART, a Rhoen – class tanker of the German Navy, on 29 March 2009. The attack by seven men aboard a single pirate skiff was repelled by the onboard security detail. The skiff was then tracked through the combined efforts of three multinational taskforces and finally apprehended by the German frigate FGS RHEINLAND-PFALZ, operating as part of EU NAVFOR.

EU NAVFOR has to date transferred 9 groups of suspected pirates comprising 75 individuals to the Kenyan authorities for prosecution in the Kenyan national courts.
It's a start.

Caribbean Pirates: "Fishermen in fear"

Reported as "Fishermen in fear" by The Trinidad Guardian:
Pirates who are stealing boat engines from fishermen have been exchanging them for marijuana in St Vincent, sources in the fishing industry are claiming. “The most amount of weed in T+T coming out of St Vincent,” the source said. “We understand these engines are going to St Vincent in return for a boatload of weed.
“These bandits are operating around all the fishing ports in the country and they are linked. “They operate out of one of the main rivers in south Trinidad.” The source said the marijuana is sold on drug blocks throughout T+T. He said while sea pirates have been stealing boat engines for years, the crime has escalated within recent times. The latest attack on fishermen occurred in the Gulf of Paria recently, resulting in the death of three fishermen from San Fernando and Claxton Bay.
T+T refers to Trinidad and Tobago.

A report on the earlier attack that left the three fishermen dead here. As noted in the main link, the act was unusually barbarous since the pirates wouldn't do anything to provide even simple flotation for the fishermen they tossed overboard.

Monday, September 06, 2010


In America, no man is above criticism.

Now, who could I be referring to?

He'd better develop a thicker skin soon or the next two years will be most unpleasant for him.

As for blaming the Republicans, with only 40 and then 41 Senators they couldn't stop so much as a swinging door. The GOP couldn't even block the recent $10 billion teachers union bailout. The only major Obama priorities that haven't passed—cap and tax and union card check—were blocked by a handful of Democrats who finally said "no mas." No Administration since LBJ's in 1965 has passed so much of its agenda in one Congress—which is precisely the problem.