Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Somali Pirates vs. U.S. Navy

The Somali pirates are, at last report, in a lifeboat, holding a hostage, the captain of the Maersk Alabama. Here's what they may not know: No American vessel has been attacked by pirates since 1804. In that time, the United States has developed into a somewhat more powerful nation. Today, the U.S. Navy has more than 280 ships, including 11 aircraft carriers and 53 nuclear attack submarines.

But the pirates need not worry about being attacked by an aircraft carrier or a submarine. No: They're about to be attacked by a destroyer.

This is very likely also something the pirates do not know.

According to reports, the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge and several other ships are headed to the scene.

Obviously, this would be an example of "asymmetric" warfare. This kind of thing is of grave concern at the Pentagon, which just this week canceled lots of orders for fighter jets and whatnot as it seeks to be more adaptive to asymmetric threats. Still, I'm not sure that I'd want to be on the small end of the asymmetry in this particular case. The pirates next time might want to pick on someone their own size.

We don't know how this will play out, and of course we hope that the captain of the Maersk Alabama is unharmed. For that matter, perhaps we could persuade the pirates that there are better lines of work than raiding container ships. If they really want to get rich, and maybe even get on the good side of the U.S. government, perhaps they should consider going into banking.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 8, 2009; 5:05 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Feeling Browsey
Next: The News From Planet Hannity


Brilliant Joel. Absolutely brilliant. You have cut directly to the heart of the matter.

As Obama and Gates understand, we are still spending billions on weapons systems that fail to protect us against real-world threats. The dominant challenge is now more akin to law enforcement than classic warfare.

Because when it comes to pirates you don't need nuclear-tipped torpedoes. Or even destroyers. You need creative ways to project controlled small-scale force.

You know, things like eccentric millionaires in titanium suits.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 8, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

True Swashbucklers don't do RPGs

Posted by: Boko999 | April 8, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Not so linky as the previous Kit, but great pictures. And words.

Posted by: Yoki | April 8, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Food. I want more food.
This diet's lasting forever.
Gnome... Ham! Eggs! Donuts!


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 8, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

History is not very helpful in solving the pirate problem. Suggested solutions from history include paying tribute, periodically shelling population centers, or occupation.

Maersk apparently doesn't believe it to be a problem; the defensive measures apparently include safe rooms and use of water hoses to repel pirates.

Posted by: engelmann | April 8, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Great Kit and pictures and superior last sentence, I laughed out loud. The story is huge here as the captain and first mate are graduates of Mass Maritime which is just down the road apiece. My fingers are crossed for the captain, I hope those pirates realize they're in a no-win situation.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 8, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

"The fact is, no one has figured out how to make money creating content in the Web era. "


Posted by: dubya19391 | April 8, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Give the pirates a credit default swap and wait for it to explode.

Posted by: rjoff | April 8, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

This is indeed a fine Kit. It is interesting how the romantic view of pirates (arrgh, matey) which we all so enjoy is so completly separate from the real thing. I suspect this is because we did not really expect to see a resurgence of successful piracy in our time. I am speaking, of course, of actual pirates like the Somalis, not financial piracy, etc. Despite the best efforts of those guys in Asia (West Asia? the Middle East? where were those guys anyway?) who kept piracy somewhat alive, it has in the main (a nautical term, notice) become a metaphor. It is somewhat disconcerting to see it revive in the flesh.

Ivansdad wondered why the organized countries of the world - whose warships currently are patrolling the Gulf of Aden etc to discourage the Somali pirates - don't just kill them at sea, as a sort of discouragement. I told him I don't think they're allowed to do that anymore. When I mentioned that there appears to be some difficulty in finding a venue to actually try captured pirates under international law, and that this has played some part in the reluctance of ship captains to take pirate prisoners, he looked at me in disbelief.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 8, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

A return to simpler times? Nah, just humans creating havoc the old fashion way....with their bodies.

Posted by: Windy3 | April 8, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Before Son of G could actually talk real words, he called those Fisher Price Little People "woggies." And Joel found some Boat Woggies!

Of course, our favorite was always Woggie Doggie...

Posted by: TBG- | April 8, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I always liked the Weebles. The claim was that they wobbled but didn't fall down. Many years ago I subjected a few to extensive experimentation to confirm this assertion. Although I am reasonably convinced this is indeed the case, I would have liked to do more research. Alas, the children were getting cranky with me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 8, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey... anyone seen Bob S lately? I think today's his birthday.

Happy B'day, Bob!

Posted by: TBG- | April 8, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

pssst JA- first line last graf

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 8, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Alas, badsneakers, I'm afraid I must dissent on the question of the quality of those photos. Or at least the second one, anyway. It very clearly shows the pirates in the lifeboat have left their bow line trailing in the water. This is surely and invitation to have it wrap around the propeller and the prop shaft, seizing them up and seizing the engine as well. They may be pirates, but they are still reasonably competent sailors, and would never do such a thing.

I think that photo has been PhotoShopped, quite frankly.

Meanwhile: dubya, what part of that sentence didn't you understand? It is not only quite true, it is widely known to be true. (But then, perhaps I ought to reconsider your handle name.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

My young cousin C. used to have a little Fisher-Price carnival that had the little people automatically move from a train to a roller-coster to other rides, all on little ratcheted stairs and down shutes. It was enchanting, like a Rube Goldberg machine. Sadly, it was lost in a house fire.

Posted by: Yoki | April 8, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, I am simply thrilled beyond measure to note that the pirate craft has a blue bottom. *beaming with pride*

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

sorry that comment was in reference to an earlier article.

Though it still kinda applies to this one :)

Look, dude. 250 boats and some planes. You're a big lover of astronomy, astronomical issues, astronomical spaces. How many millions of square miles of water are there on the Earths' surface? 4 pi* r^2 * 2/3rds or so, right? With a radius of 4,000 miles, I'm guessing that works out to about 100 million square miles of water.

And half of our Navy is in port at any one time, right? Not to mention a lot of them at the Pentagon. And our Navy is bigger than the rest combined, right?

Who, exactly, is on the small side of the "asymmetry" issue?

Or ok let's look it this way, piracy is is more or less profitable than kidnapping & drug-smuggling. A) true B) false C) don't know but apparently it's not a bad way to make a living, either way.

Posted by: dubya19391 | April 8, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, Bob!

Tomorrow is the first birthday of my two favorite twin boys. Their grandparents, aunt, and I spent the day and most of the night at the hospital awaiting their arrival. I'm so glad that was last year!

Posted by: slyness | April 8, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Cryptic e-mail from my boss this morning, he was fired at a board meeting last night. Did get a chance to talk on the phone just now but I forgot to ask if he had a chance to present my resignation (effective Aug. 31) before they sacked him. Ah well.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 8, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

"Meanwhile: dubya, what part of that sentence didn't you understand? It is not only quite true, it is widely known to be true. (But then, perhaps I ought to reconsider your handle name.)"

LOL whatever you say, "pot" :)

That's like saying that it is not only true that you can't make money in the stock market, it's widely known and indeed proven over the past year. No, the whole Internet is running on CDOs :)

Posted by: dubya19391 | April 8, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

slyness! A whole year. I still think of them as newborns.

Posted by: Yoki | April 8, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse


I'm unlocking the bunker; front page alert, if you hadn't figured that out already.

RD, you got some shiraz to share? Yoki, where did you put the prosecco? I'm bringing out the goat cheese I've had hidden in the freezer. You all realize that means I like you a whole bunch.

Posted by: slyness | April 8, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm honoured, slyness. I'll bring some good Italian bread, and I've just made a big angel-food cake, and have raspberries and cream to go with it. As well as lots of prosecco, of course. I'm certain RD has the red-wine situation covered!

Posted by: Yoki | April 8, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I wish you could see them, they are just adorable. They have hair and teeth and can feed themselves and go wherever they want to. W is toddling a little, P will stand but isn't really walking yet.

Posted by: slyness | April 8, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow... how many boodles this week have included a sentence like "just got an email from my boss that he's been fired."

Posted by: TBG- | April 8, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

awwww. I would love to meet them. I adore the way they concentrate so hard on walking, as though their little feet were rooted to the ground and they have to use all their powers of will and intellect to shift them. Too sweet.

Posted by: Yoki | April 8, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I think we have a party!

Angel food cake and trimmings, yum, Yoki, I can hardly wait!

TBG, that's the second time that I recall a boss being fired recently.

Frosti, you okay with this? It's not the mayoralty you're resigning is it?

Posted by: slyness | April 8, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Mine was, just the other day.

Frosty, are you really resigning?

And posting this without comment:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

MADD's Hurley nominated to lead traffic administration

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

New York -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated the head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving as the nation's top auto safety regulator.

Charles "Chuck" Hurley, CEO of MADD, was nominated to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Before joining MADD in March 2005, Hurley served as the vice president of the Transportation Safety Group for the National Safety Council and as the executive director of the Council's Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign.

"Chuck is a passionate safety advocate whose career has been dedicated to reducing motor vehicle deaths and injuries on the highways," the Governors Highway Safety Association said in a statement. Hurley attended MADD's first national press conference in Washington, D.C., in 1980 and strongly supported and assisted in MADD's efforts to pass the National 21 Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984. From 1993 to 1998, Hurley served on the MADD National Board of Directors and was later named to the MADD National Board of Advisers.

In an interview last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the pick would impress. "I think the safety folks around the country will be thrilled with the person the president will nominate. This person has spent a lifetime working on safety issues," LaHood said.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

A man was CEO of MADD? hahahaha.

Posted by: Yoki | April 8, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

My reaction also, Yoki. But it sounds like he's got the necessary experience.

MADD is an organization that I support and have supported for many years.

Posted by: slyness | April 8, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

*not sayin' nuthin', Yoki. Nuthin', ya hear? Got my lip zipped.*

*scribbling at least 27 smart-a$$ replies and putting them safely in a time capsule*

Meanwhile, Ben's gonna try to summon the smoke monster!!!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Another perspective on Somali pirates, for what it's worth:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | April 8, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Not only a blue bottomed boat but a wooden boat at that.

Thinking about the story I posted the other day about the Canadian ship/helicopter halting a suspected pirate attack on the merchant ship they were accompanying, one of the comments on that story was the mention that they had only delayed an attack, and that the pirate would just go elsewhere - sadly true.

Mudge has piracy ever stopped - thought it has been a problem in some areas for quite some time but that the attacks were on smaller private vessels?

Posted by: dmd2 | April 8, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

That's mostly true, dmd. Over the years there have been sporadic and isolated cases of it in the Caribbean, usually against tourist sailors, and there have been somewhat more cases of it in the East Indies from time to time.

In much earlier times, of course, when there was a lot more piracy, a lot of it was state-supported, such as the Barbary Pirates, etc. Also, what was often said by some to be "piracy" was merely state-sanctioned privateering against enemy nations, viz. the famous Capt. Kidd. (Oh, now *there* was an interesting laddy! But that's a story for another day.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

This is way off topic, but I am watching the Mike Holmes special up here, he is rebuilding a home (9th ward) in New Orleans - they are showing not just how the home is rebuilt but also viewing the canals, wetlands etc. Of course the guest appearances by Brad Pitt won't hurt the ratings. Appears to be filmed last summer or fall.

Posted by: dmd2 | April 8, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Dayum! I was doing fine until you all mentioned the cheese, wine, angel food cake, strawberries and cream. Now what am I going to do?
And even the smoke monster didn't do the trick.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | April 8, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Come on down, Maggie! It's virtual so there are no calories and NO guilt! Just enjoy.


Posted by: slyness | April 8, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I got all distracted and forgot the Angel Food cake and raspberries - so so good.

Posted by: dmd2 | April 8, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

You guys are playing havoc with my virtual diabetes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

To clarify, I am resigning from my job as the director of the local after-school program (a branch of a national organization). I was kind of brought in to clean up some messes (done) and guide the unit through a major facility renovation (nearly done) but since they didn't appear to be serious about grooming a replacement I decided to force the issue with 5 months notice.

Herding Cats Shiraz anyone?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 8, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

You can even have virtual cream, dmd!

Posted by: Yoki | April 8, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

I know how to deal with virtual diabetic shock and diabetic coma, Mudge. The orange juice is in the fridge. Now if I just remember which is which, that would be helpful. I knew in 1981, when I passed my EMT certification exam.

Posted by: slyness | April 8, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I dare say that if pirates were treated now as they were in 1804 - summary trials followed by immediate punishment (hanging) - that the incidents of piracy would decrease drastically.

Posted by: jonorloff2 | April 8, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I do so enjoy my virtual cream :-), usually after surgery it is my husbands job to bring me a Tim's at the first opportunity I am allowed - this time I may ask for a DQ ice cream.

Posted by: dmd2 | April 8, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Surgery dmd? Did I miss something, when are you going in? Good luck, you'll be fine in a few days and feeling better than you have in a while.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 8, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Virtual, Schmirtual!

I have just finished reading the last NYT Blog, 'Proof' about alcohol, and I have succumbed. I'm now in search of gin, vodka, single malt whiskey, rum, various cordials, etc. to go with the angel food cake, strawberries, whipped cream, Haagen-Dahz, cookies with cream, etc.

If you don't hear from me in the next several days, raise a glass for me!

In memoriam.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | April 8, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I go on the 21st, and thanks I will be glad when it is finished

Posted by: dmd2 | April 8, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Good luck on your surgery, DMD. You'll feel so much better when it's over, and you recover. I hear that if it's lasproscopy, it's a short one.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | April 8, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it is a quick recovery after laproscopic, had a job interview the day after surgery once, actually left the hospital a few hours before - needless to say I did not ace the interview - I was there physically but still somewhat fogged from the drugs - really not the best first impression.

A tip for the job seekers out there an interview while you are still somewhat under the influence of legally prescribed narcotics - not the best idea :-)

Posted by: dmd2 | April 8, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rickoshea0 | April 8, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

When I had mine out last year the day of the surgery I was pretty sleepy and nicely fogged. The next day I was pretty good, the day after that I was almost fine and the third day I went to work. I would expect your results would be similar. It's great to eat everything without worrying.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 8, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dmd, I'll take that under advisement.

Shiraz? Did someone say Shiraz?

Posted by: seasea1 | April 8, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Sitting here listening to U2's new CD, trying to pick my favorite song. I like Unknown Caller a lot - nice "o-o-oh o-o-oh o-o-oh" chorus, French horn, and one of the lines is "shush now", which makes me smile.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 8, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

'Tis my belief that there will be a brand new Boodle feature unvailed during Dawn Patrol tomorrow morning.

Ssssh. Mum's the word.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Ooooh...italics? Music? Editing?

Posted by: seasea1 | April 8, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

This piracy of the high seas is old school. So, so...yesterday. So, so..1804, so Tripoli and Barbary.

What about piracy of the high C's, C++'s, Fortrans and Assemblers? How much annual revenue is lost to 21st century piracy of software and copyrights?

Even Captain Jack Sparrow gets in on the act:

This cartoonist has the contemporary scene down pat.

Posted by: laloomis | April 8, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

That boat with the little people in it is so cute. I want one of that.

The Strait of Malacca between peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra is among the world's busiest shipping lanes, used by more than 70,000 ships in 2007, including vessels supplying about 80 percent of the energy needs of Japan and China.
Piracy in the Strait became so serious that in 2005 the Joint War Committee of the Lloyd's Market Association added the area to its list of war risk zones, sending premiums sharply higher. Concerted efforts by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore to tackle piracy helped slash the number of attacks in subsequent years.

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 8, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Unvailed??? *&^%$#&^% Unveiled, of course. seasea's right: a little editing would be nice. But alas, that's not it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 8, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke! Yes, it's nice to see Minnesota represented in the Frozen Four. It's a big deal up here, for sure; I know some of the guys who are playing.

It's exciting and also very amazing pressure for them to be two games away from a national championship. I'm sure the other three teams feel the same, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 8, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

I can't wait for Brag to weigh in on this one. And it sounds like the crew's taken the ship back from the Pirates, who didn't know it was "Talk back to the Pirate Day."

Mudge, I'm not sure you have correctly identified that second picture. The first, obviously is a current guided-missile destroyer, designed with Cold War missions in mind.

I believe the second picture is an artists' conception of DefSec Robert Gates' recommended next-gen Destroyer replacement per his recent Defense Budget overhaul.

The image I saw of the new Gates-recommended Air Force fighter/tactical support aircraft showed the airframe to be of a very stealthy composite consruction -- balsa wood, tissue paper and cellulose dope. Very low radar profile, that.

This 'Asymmetrical Warfare' equipment's very interesting... I imagine they'll start replacing HUMVEEs with Chrysler Minivans soon, too. (If Fiat and Chrysler can't get their acts together in a way that the Adninistration likes, there should be plenty of them on dealers' lots soon - on the *very* cheap.)


Posted by: -bc- | April 8, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

There need to be some examples set. I favor carpet bombing and indiscriminate shelling of anything resembling a vessel that can float personally. There isn't much these clowns respect other than summary execution.

Posted by: timscanlon | April 8, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I believe that keel hauling is also an option.

Posted by: -jack- | April 9, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

dubya, I think it would be fair to say that context should have been sufficient to supply the necessary clarifications to JA's line about "no one has figured out how to make money by creating content":

(1) Clearly, he meant fact-based content. Opinion-based content and other forms of derivative content (e.g., analysis, aggregation, making it up from whole cloth) are substantially less costly than the pernicious practice of interviewing people, doing background research, writing a cogent and coherent article, having it fact-checked, edited and copy-edited, page-designed ("typeset", although that is not quite an accurate designation for what happens on the web), and associated with a well-researched and well-produced photo or illustration. I think it is clear that that is what he meant by "creating content." The costly aspect is apparent in the fact that of all those personnel, only two (at most) get credited, the writer/journalist and the photographer/illustrator/journalist. You can skimp on many of those aspects, but you get what you're willing to pay for -- potentially rambling, misspelled verbose texts with significant errors of fact, laid out haphazardly.

(2) By "make money" I think it would be fair to say that he means not merely making "some" money, but making enough money to pay that small army a decent living wage that compensates them for the investment of time to develop the necessary skills and expertise.

I estimate that the tasks I described above require about 6 different people. Maybe 7 or 8, if you include dedicated researchers. Assuming 6, and each is paid a professional wage equivalent to the DC area, and each gets decent health benefits, then I estimate that team would cost a little over a million dollars per year in salary and benefits alone. For, perhaps, 3 new pieces per week. You get some economies of scale once you have several journalists sharing the same editors, etc. Let's see, say you have a staff of 6 front-line journalists producing 18 new items per week, you need to bring in nearly $2 million per year for salary and benefits, plus probably another mill or two for servers, web gurus, air travel and lodging for reporting trips, software and computers. In fairness, there are some sites (Drudge, Wonkette, Huffington Post) that may get that kind of dough. Note, however, that each of those is a purveyor of aggregated news or opinion and commentary, not a creator of actual new fact-based content. Politico does actual reporting, I gather. It's pretty new, however, so I doubt it is known yet whether Politico will be successful in making money.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 9, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

What this story fails to mention is the Mafia is contracted with countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece and others to dispose of dangerous radioactive wastes, which they choose to do off the coast of Somalia and most foreign nations violate the sovereignty of Somalia's fishing grounds and haul from the sea with in their territorial waters scores of fish to feed their own interests without compensation in any way to that country.

Posted by: Sideswiped | April 9, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

There is a saying that anything new is a well forgotten old. As to the Somalian and/or Asian pirates there was a perfectly working response by, can you guess?, President Thomas Jefferson vs. the Barbary Pirates, i.e. burn their shore bases, sink their ships, and string up as many as you can catch. It did work, for two centuries. Still, Mr. J. didn't have to take into account anything beside live, freedom and pursuit of happines of the American citizens. So, get ready for a string of kidnappings as much as we are ready for killings by the oppressed and offended masses.

Posted by: felix155 | April 9, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Time for us to show Somalian pirates why Yorkies should not attack Rotweilers. Surely we have enough satelite surveilance capabilities to spot these rowboats with RPGs and take them out with cruise missiles from hundreds of miles away. Let's start doing that at least once a day until the threat is gone.

Posted by: dolph924 | April 9, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

So... we are eating fish obtained from waters laced with radioactive waste? And no agency charged with checking for mercury content or other impurities has noticed this?

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 9, 2009 1:28 AM | Report abuse

dolph924, you plan to destroy $10K fiberglass speedboats (not rowboats) with million-dollar cruise missiles? Were you planning to go all out and arm the missiles with tactical nukes just to, you know, make an impression?

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 9, 2009 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Lots of good quotes from Maersk's President and CEO John Reinhart.

"they (Maersk crew)do not have weapons... it would raise the risk to their lives"

Or the cost to Maersk... I continue to believe the shipping companies refuse to maintain any security aboard ship because they are too much the tightwads, cheapskates.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 9, 2009 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Harvard University Press is about to release "Buccaneers of the Caribbean: How Piracy Forged an Empire" by Jon Latimer, who previously wrote "1812: War With America".

The new book looks as if its cover art is an NC Wyeth illustration.

I doubt that the Caribbean amounted to much, economically, during the age of the buccaneers. The sugar boom (which seemingly provided the money for England's stately 18th century country houses) and the coffee boom in Sainte-Dominigue must have come later. The tropical American plantation economy has been described as a vast waste of resources (especially human beings) for the sake of cheap sugar and coffee.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 9, 2009 2:17 AM | Report abuse

I await but to no avail.
My features are downcast.
Mebbe I'm just early.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 9, 2009 4:23 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

I see Goerge Will hs written about baseball umpires this morning. That insidious b@st@rd-- I'm sure this is his clever idea or forcing me to read him. Broder has also chosen to write about baseball, apparently. I can see I'm going to have to read them both this morning. *sigh* The things I am forced to do for my country.

Good smell of coffee wafting from the Ready Room. Wonder what delights dear slyness has in store?

Dave, if you think piracy didn't pay very well in the Caribbean, I shall have to enlighten you about the Spanish treasure fleets that sailed from Central America bearing tons of silver.

I am amazed to learn how the poor but noble Somalians, who are basically littyle more than barbarians living in an utterly failed state run by some of the most vicious warlords the world has ever known, are nevertheless so "green" and so concerned about overshore dumping as well as depletion of fisheries that they take time from their busy schedules of massacering esach other that they hijack passing cargo ships and hold them to ransom in order to stop said dumping and overfishing. Somehow I thiought their motives were less pure. Perhaps Greenpeace has set up shop in Mogodishu, I dunno.

Meanwhile, time to trot out a brand new Boodle feature for Dawn Patrol:


Today in Nautical and Aviation History:

April 10, 1940: Britain signs a contract with James “Dutch” Kindelberger’s North American Aviation company to design and build a new fighter that ultimately becomes the P-51 Mustang, generally agreed to be the finest fighter plane of World War II. Kindelberger’s staff turned out the first prototype in an astounding 116 days.
1963: Nuclear submarine USS Thresher (SSN 593) sinks 220 miles off Cape Cod in 8,400 feet of water, killing all 129 aboard, during routine tests. Cause of the sinking is unknown, but examination of the wreck and an investigation speculates the cause was a broken seawater pipe that may have then shorted out the sub’s electrical system.


OK, Patrol, let's go! Prepare to repel boarders! Brag, you've got our six. Avast, thar be pirates out thar! Have at 'em!

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 9, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Good morning!

Mudge, country ham biscuits in the ready room this morning. I was too busy last night to whip up anything more exotic. I hope that's okay with you.


I failed to wake up at 3:25 ayem to note the birthday moment of my favorite twins boys. Oh well, I'm sure they didn't either. Party is Saturday afternoon.

I'm gonna like the new feature.

Posted by: slyness | April 9, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes, Mafia-generated radioactive waste.


*slowly-and-deliberately-moving-away-from-the-keyboard-while-awaiting-the-new-feature-with-bated-breath Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 9, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Although shipping companies often do not spend enough money equipping their ships, the reason they don't want weapons on board are not necessarily tied to money issues. Have you ever sailed with the same group of 20-30 people for months at a time? People get on each others nerves, and the last thing that should be thrown into the mix would be a weapons cache. High powered water houses, superbright spotlights, and rail extensions (to raise the sides of the ships) are better tools. Increasing the number of sailors per ship would help, too, and shipping companies are generally too cheap to hire more people.
Unstable (and often corrupt) governments mixed with extreme poverty and access to high-powered weapons and fast boats = breeding grounds for pirates.

Posted by: willoughbyspit | April 9, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, the new feature was posted at 6:17 a.m.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 9, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Ya shudda used ALL CAPS r' sumtin, 'Mudge... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 9, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Do tell.

'sume breathing, Scotty, you'll need all the oxygen you can get to handle the excitment.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 9, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Mateys!

JA got it right--We have the wrong navy for the wrong war at the wrong time. At present the USN main achievement is contribute to the financial crisis. It costs too much!

By scrapping one aircraft carrier, with the money saved, we could probably finance an effective global anti-piracy force.

Awast ye swabs sharpen them cutlasses.


Posted by: Braguine | April 9, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! Glad to see rejoining the living coincided with a delish ham biscuit breakfast. Scones with fruity bits, even with beloved pecans, are just not my idea of edibles.

Show your BEAVER PRIDE! today in support of Bemidji State.
Love the logo.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 9, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"For that matter, perhaps we could persuade the pirates that there are better lines of work than raiding container ships."

How can we persuade them of something that is so obviously not true? Sure, here in the US this is true; it isn't true in Somalia. I'm all for persuading them to stop, but I see no point in making such a pathetic show of it.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | April 9, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse


Pouring great dollops of grog rations. Havana Club rum to be specific. A libation aproved by Dr. Castro.

The vessels we need are 60 - 75 ft boats with a crew of about ten sailors armed with a few shoulder fired antitank missiles. The cost of building such a vessel is roughly 1.5 million.

3 frigates or destroyers already in existance and equiped with helicopters would be enough to give adecuate support.

It would help to have a few spies ashore who could be run from some of the border towns just outside Somalia.

After scrapping one aircraft carrier and building 50 antipirate cutters, the remaining savings could be used on economy reviving projects like making Brag rich.

Posted by: Braguine | April 9, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

We already have such a craft, Brag. I took a ride in one on the Potomac out of the Washington Navy Yard about 10 years ago. See:

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 9, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Replace the copters with armed Predators, Brag... ;-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 9, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah... NEW KIT!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 9, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I suggest rigging a few containers on each ship as living quarters and then charging yahoos $5000 a week for the chance to bag a pirate.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 9, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

As a U.S. Navy veteran, 1970-1974, I concur that my money is on our Navy to resolve this terriorism on the high seas. These piss-ant swashbuckler wannabees have to learn that you can not stop maritime commerce. It will be interesting to see how this plays out - I say hang em by the yardarm---it will teach the rest of these pathetic low lifes that no one messes with the U.S. Navy!

Posted by: donnem1968 | April 9, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

It certainly inspires confidence when a few thugs in a dinghy can take on the US navy.

Posted by: thebink | April 9, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

the big mistake I made this morning was to assume that anything coming out of Achenbach would resemble any kind of serious comment. That being the case, I Should not be surprised that most of the comments subsequently posted are in the same category: utter and useless drivel. Nice work guys.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | April 9, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Good stuff!! Now write something about North Korea and propose America notify the world our nation will not oppose annexation of what is known as North Korea into China. Perhaps as part of China, the government of China could impose some restrictions of the citizens of NK.

Posted by: fuelman1 | April 9, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I am taking distinctly perverse pleasure in the thought of the Somali pirates sitting in a lifeboat as a half dozen Navy SEALs float silently underneath them. This would be a good time to negotiate a trip to the Norfolk brig. Or, plan for a swift trip to meet the 72 doe-eyed virgins. A high explosive enema would appear imminent.

Posted by: TidyBowlMan | April 9, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Your statement that pirates have not attacked a US ship since 1804 is both factually wrong and misses the point. The cruise ship Seaborne Spirit, to cite only the most recent case, was attacked off Somalia in November 2005. The ship is owned and operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, a US company even though the ship does not fly the US flag.

The US flag merchant fleet is tiny. Of the over thirty thousand ships currently operating worldwide, there are roughly only about 200 US flag merchant ships in foreign trade. Many of these are trading on government contracts or operate under preferential government programs. AP Moller, the parent company of Maersk, is a Danish company which happens to be the largest operator of US flag ships in the world. Is the Maersk Alabama a US ship or a Danish ship? Or does it matter?

The US economy, the largest in the world, does not rely on the US flag fleet, one of the smaller fleets, to transport a significant percentage of raw materials and manufactured goods. Ships of every flag carry cargoes to and the from the United States. We are far more dependent on foreign flag vessels than US flag ships to keep our economy functioning.

The Alabama Maersk may be in the spotlight because it happens to be a US flag ship. Nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the the larger issue of the impact of piracy on world trade, regardless of which flags may be flown on the ships under attack. In a global economy, the US relies on them all.

Rick Spilman

Posted by: meridianm | April 9, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

A lot of help guided missiles are going to be! My money is on the pirates.

Why doesn't Obama deploy a helicopter carrier to Somalia (carrier-based helicopter gunships would be an effective anti-piracy measure), thereby earning the gratitude of the world?

Posted by: donnolo | April 9, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

What the Navy needs to do is sent a SEAL team under the life boat and sink it where it floats. The hostage takers will be so busy trying to save their own skins that the team can whisk away the captain. Afterward, we will consider whether we should rescue the scumbags.

Posted by: tgolamb | April 9, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

No negotiation that leads to another incident.

Send soldiers inland to destroy the bases.

Posted by: TonyP4 | April 9, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

These pirates obviously have no knowledge of present US law enforcement -- All they would have to do is declare themselves Illegal Immigrants to the United States and we would immediately send them a lawyer for each of them, a mobile health clinic, and a video of Dr. Phil telling them there are better ways of self-actualization.

Posted by: tommariner | April 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Instead of patrolling millions of miles of ocean, they should be blockading the coast and shooting anything that moves with a guided missile. That ought to shut down the pirate trade.

Posted by: mikey999 | April 9, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse


Whatever "content" you wish to speak of, counts as "content" for the web unless the original author has qualified their statement. Which he didn't do.

Sorry it's just not hard to say "fact-based web content" if that's what you mean to say. Not saying it implies...that he didn't mean to say it...which implies...that that's not necessarily what he meant. Thus it would not be a fact to say that it *is* what he meant to say, which means that what *you* are saying is not true "fact". Just your wishes.

And even if Achenwhatever himself were to do that now, it would still be "too late, so sorry". What's done is done, what's said is said. Your present fantasies can't alter past reality.


Posted by: dubya19391 | April 9, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

And don't forget about Naval aviation. The P-3s have been on the scene for hours and have been observing every move. Also, they can drop supplies, weapons, navy seals or letters from home!

Posted by: johnnyd2 | April 9, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

What if the terrorists threaten to sink the ship if the crew doesn't exit the safe room? What depth of water is the safe room built to withstand?

Maybe I'm watching a little too much 24?

Posted by: cmarshdtihqcom | April 9, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

To deter pirates the international community should consider demolishing the homes where the families of pirates live. Israel has been doing this for some years now, apparently with success, to deter attackers.

Posted by: rajivk001 | April 9, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

This would seem to be a perfect mission for Navy SEALS (of which my son is a new member).

No muss, no fuss, just come up out of the water and it's nite-nite for the bad guys.

Posted by: joecairo | April 9, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I guess they're the pirates who don't do anything.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 9, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

USS Bainbridge...anyone notice the historical symmetry of that?

Posted by: SRJG | April 9, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The captain should in all certainty be fine. Somali pirates are not the same ideological zealots like the Taliban or Al-Qaeda suicide bombers.

Pirates are in it purely for the money. These are poor fishermen in all probability. They're probably scared s#!tless right now, seeing the US Navy destroyers & surveillance aircraft hovering above. They just don't want a bullet put through their heads when they release the Captain. A couple of seals and snipers can probably put a quick end to this. The destroyer is just a signal to the pirates not to mess with the US ever again in the future.

Posted by: cpatwork | April 9, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Negotiating with terrorists and pirates is like attempting to negotiate with a rabid dog.

The dog only has one question, "Where would you like to be bitten?"

Given that fact what should be our response?
Shoot to kill.

Posted by: msmithnv | April 9, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

...the pirates seem to be rather unconcerned with a recent show of force by the US Navy. In fact they are sending many recently-hijacked ships, with their crews, to the area, to assist the pirates who stranded themselves 500 miles out to sea attempting to hijack this US container ship. In spite of the US destroyer parked nearby.

It seems that we have a classic hostage-situation here!

Just at sea, instead of onshore in Somalia.

Minor "thumbing of nose" detected.

Posted by: dubya19391 | April 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company