Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Monday, March 28, 2011

Somali Pirates: Disable pirate "motherships?"

From American Shipper:
With frustration over Somalia piracy increasing, shipping executives are discussing whether naval forces should disable vessels as they are hijacked to prevent them from being used as “mother ships” from which attacks can be launched further offshore.
“One idea is to use floating nets to disable the propeller because that way you can easily recover the vessel as soon as the pirates are off the ship,” said Spyros Polemis, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, speaking at Shipping 2011, the annual conference of the Connecticut Maritime Association. “They have other thoughts, but I can not disclose everything.”
But some voices cautioned against the tactic.***
Read the whole thing. One of the major concerns in dealing with the pirates in the past has been not provoking them into doing more harm to the captive crews than they already do.

If they are holding a ship and its crew, disabling the ship may cause the pirates to toss a few bodies over the side of the ship until the ship is freed or their safe passage is guaranteed. From the article:
While there is a risk that pirates may harm crews if ships are disabled, Polemis said it would be “really against their own interest. Because if the warship is nearby, and they can see the warship, and the warship disables the vessel, what is the pirate going to do? If they are going to harm the crew, then the Navy is going to go on board the ship and kill the pirates. They are risking their own lives I think the likelihood is they will go aboard their boats and leave.”

The counter-argument to that is that when harm is done to a crew, there must be a price paid by the pirates or else they have little incentive to be relatively civilized.

One way to disable pirate small boats


  1. Chuck Hill8:50 PM

    There is also the option of sending SEALs into the ports to disable ships already taken than may be used as mother ships. Damage propeller or rudder or perhaps just clog cooling intakes.

  2. You can certainly disable a merchan PAG vessel at sea but what is the blowback going to be? Pirates with their backs to the wall are likely to do something irrational, so you cannot count on the same endstate "I'll take the offer to leave peacefully".

    Disabling vessels already in an anchorage makes more sense; that prevents them from being used over and over as PAG platforms. But you have to do it in a way that the ship can leave when the drama is over. Finally, given enough time (4-5 mths) the intakes clog themselves.

  3. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Bottom line.

    The more ships and even greater, the more CREWS the pirates hold hostage the bigger the problem.

    Hostages should not want to be in good company.

    Harsh measures risk the crews already held to pirate retaliation. Soft measures enable the pirates to collect more crews leverage the threats to crew’s lives to gain power over all.

    No one wants to be the crew already held captive. But almost as certain is that other crews out there don't want to join the former set because no one wanted to risk rescuing the crews already held in the first place.

    Soft measures put MORE crews at risk and GROW the problem.
    Harsh measures risk the crews already in captivity who's lives, sadly are as far as the pirates are concerned, already discounted that's why they take them hostages in the first place.