Six Toe Pirates

One from Navy News

We must not let up our guard against pirates says the senior Royal Navy commander who’s standing down after 18 months keeping them in check. Despite just five attacks by the modern-day buccaneers all year, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant says if the world’s navies and merchant shipping companies take their eye off the ball

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September 2, 2014 11:47 am

I think we should scale down the deployment. It is a very good think that the joint TF is a huge succes. We should thank USN, RN, French, German and all of them who contributed in a lot of ways.

John Hartley
John Hartley
September 2, 2014 11:50 am

Well its not just the piracy, its the terrorism that is linked to it. Its also not just about sending RN ships. Its about toughening UK law regarding piracy/terrorism as much as you can while still staying a liberal democracy. Likewise the toughest allowable rules of engagement.

September 2, 2014 1:11 pm

I keep repeating myself whenever this subject comes up. The RN is not deploying ships to conduct counter-piracy. It’s a commercial problem now – commercial armed guards are commonplace and the number of ships being pirated has plummeted. Counter-piracy measures are well established and effective. The warships are there for other reasons, a problem set that will endure for some time to come.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 2, 2014 1:54 pm


The reasoning behind Kipion tasking and the units allocated including the 4MCMvs and indeed the UKMCC has a lot more to do with conventional threats to trade and energy flow than pirates. Not to say that we do not do some anti piracy as well but if that was the major issue we would not have the force profile that we do.
Back in the mid noughties I was at a hand over meeting where we were taking over as TG Commander for the units guarding the Iraqi OPLATZ. The vessel we were relieving was USS Cape St George. It was remarked upon that you really did not need 122 SAMs to protect an oil rig. the CO smiled and admitted that more than 75% of his cells had TLAM loaded and that whilst he was protecting the OPLATZ that was not the primary reason for having that sort of load out in the NAG. The current RN deployment follows much the same logic.

September 2, 2014 3:34 pm

APATS, not to say that piracy doesn’t have an effect on energy and trade too. Too many ships get hit, insurance rates go up, cost goes up as well, even if it is not specifically tankers getting hit. Collateral effect, but it still hurts.

TAS, same point as above. Hiring private security costs, and having a squad on every ship runs up the big bucks and manpower very fast. Most companies can’t or won’t hire PMCs. It’s sometimes cheaper just to let the pirates break open the safe. And piracy has been around for centuries. You would think that people wouldn’t cotton on to such a simple solution? Unless they could not. IIRC, tanker ship crews are fairly well paid due to the long periods of time the job drags them away from home. You’re going to have to pay PMCs extra for long haul duty. I can easily see the manpower budget shooting up by +50% or more.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
September 2, 2014 4:51 pm

Why not just give the Shisp crew a box of AK’s and RPG’s, why do you need trained guards, as soon as they start getting shot at the pirates will runaway surely.

El Sid
El Sid
September 2, 2014 5:31 pm

People have to remember that there’s different structures in the region with different priorities and RoE – the EU has Atalanta which is pretty much pure anti-piracy off Somalia, along with NATO’s Ocean Shield as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Then you’ve got the CMF taskforces (CTF150/1/2), which have a wider role across the Indian Ocean and Gulf, and which has a more general remit against terrorism etc. So if you’re wondering what our interests in the area are beyond straight piracy, try their mission statement :
CMF’s main focus areas are defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation, and promoting a safe maritime environment.

CMF counters violent extremism and terrorist networks in maritime areas of responsibility; works with regional and other partners to improve overall security and stability; helps strengthen regional nations’ maritime capabilities and, when requested, responds to environmental and humanitarian crises.

You’re over-complicating the security team thing – it’s fairly well established now, and the reduced insurance premium more than covers the cost. They just come on board for a week or two whilst the ship is in the high-risk zone, the cost is manageable.

The reason why “people wouldn’t cotton on to such a simple solution” was the rules about weapons on ships (remember the big UK influence on the maritime world) – once you’ve got over that hangup, it’s a fairly straightforward thing to do.

September 2, 2014 11:16 pm

Sid, you’re looking at a specific timeframe, from ~2008 to the present. The framework I was looking at was from somewhere around 1950-present. You may be right in the legality issues, but I’m betting that once piracy rates go down from their high, private security teams are also going to decrease. Businesses simply don’t want to pay for something they might not need. Once they see the need, legality would follow fast. Look at how private security has suddenly got the green light from 2008 till now (~40% of the ships going through Somalia is now armed), as opposed to the decades before where no one even bothered. Once the “pirate menace” is over, these security teams will disappear as well. They are extra cost.

As for the “missing ships”, they used to be a rarity, usually, the primary target for Indonesian pirates is the ship safe. Ship crew are usually paid in bulk at one shot during a port call from currency taken from the ship safe, plus miscellaneous ship expenses (this may have changed in the age of electronic financing, haven’t been keeping up), so there tends to be quite a bit inside the safe. Casual pirates usually don’t have fences to sell off ships or their cargo, so they go after the easy to dispose of cash. It’s only the missing ships and ransomed crew that gets the big headlines though, so this little factoid tends to go under the radar.

September 3, 2014 1:47 pm

Off topic, but I was trying to confirm the typical loadout of an Arleigh Burke DDG-51 Flight llA ?

There is a comparison graph on the Defense Industry Daily website, I don’t have a link but it’s part of an article entitled “Britain’s shrinking air defence fleet”, the loadout shown for the Flight llAs is:

MR-SAM 256 quad packed ESSM
LR-SAM 32 SM-3

But surely a significant number of the 96 cells would be used for TLAMs & ASROC?

Is there a standard loadout or is it pick and mix depending on the operation?