Stopping Piracy The Old-Fashioned Way
Having a nominal Somali government that invites us inside the 12 nm limit seems to be a good way to stop piracy in the Horn of Africa, but sometimes it just takes the old American standby, "concentrated application of superior firepower".
A U.S. Navy warship fired on and sank two skiffs used by pirates Sunday to hijack a merchant vessel off the coast of Somalia, U.S. officials said Monday.It's a good thing the gunners on the Porter shot accurately -- those coastal gas carriers in that part of the world don't have very thick hulls. It would have been somewhat embarrassing to have to announce that we had accidentally destroyed the merchant in order to save it...
The USS Porter responded to a distress call from the merchant vessel carrying benzene, the officials said. Sunday's shooting took place in international waters, they said...
...The officials said that when the Porter fired on the skiffs tied up to the merchant vessel, it was not known the ship was filled with highly flammable benzene.
...on the other hand, I really like the concept of pirates and terrorists being lit up by a CWIS in surface mode.
Update 2204 29 Oct: It turns out the skiffs destroyed by the Porter were empty, since the pirates had already taken over the ship. USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) is now in pursuit inside Somali waters. Hopefully we'll get a good ending to this story.
Update 1001 30 Oct: Reports are sketchy, but it appears that the crew of the merchant, which may be North Korean, have regained control of their vessel from the pirates. No word yet on the pirates' fate.
Update 1424 30 Oct: Now I'm all confused. It now appears that there are two merchants, one of which freed themselves from the pirates (killing some), and another that is being chased by a destroyer.
Update 1605 30 Oct: Here's a Navy photo of one of the burning skiffs, sunk by 25mm fire.