We Need Us A Convoy

capricornstarlarge

The blogs are a-twitter over the latest Somali-related act of piracy, the taking of an oil supertanker off the coast of Tanzania. Wired, EagleSpeak and Information Dissemination all have posts up. Most start by riffing off the Fifth Fleet news release announcing the seizure, which is mostly a declaration of impotence:

“Our presence in the region is helping deter and disrupt criminal attacks off the Somali coast, but the situation with the Sirius Star clearly indicates the pirates’ ability to adapt their tactics and methods of attack” said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, Combined Maritime Forces.

The good admiral essentially repeats his appeal for shipping companies to hire Blackwater or an outfit of that ilk to provide armed security on their vessels. He and the folks who assembled the news release also make clear their view of the uselessness of patrolling, given that they tout the successes the USN and other forces have achieved lately in the Gulf of Aden while acknowledging a new problem hundreds of miles away:

To put the challenge into geographic perspective, the area involved off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million square miles. That is roughly four times the size of the U.S. state of Texas or the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined.

Question: Has anyone thought of convoys, or has our Navy gone all Ernie-King-in-January-1942 and in consequence dismissed the idea out of hand? Concentrate the targets, and you can also concentrate your resources on protecting them. It’s radical, sure. But I wouldn’t think you’d need a huge escort to make the exercise worthwhile — a couple of frigates per group should suffice. 

What is required, no matter what, is for navy types throughout the West to get their heads around the idea that they have to solve this. Gortney and his subordinates obviously haven’t:

“While a military force cannot solve the problem, the solution lies ashore, we welcome the assistance of additional forces,” said [Royal Navy Commodore Tim] Lowe.

Somewhere Horatio Nelson is rolling over in his grave.

Meanwhile, The Custodian at Info Dissemination sagely notes that this latest seizure “offers a somewhat disturbing opportunity for ecoterrorist extortion if it is carrying cargo [ed: it is] and if the pirates choose to take that route.” Everyone at all the blogs mentioned above agrees that as long as countries keep paying the ransom, the pirates will keep taking ships.

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