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Wednesday, May 27, 2015
PiracyPosted Sunday, January 10, 2010, at 12:54 PM
Sailing has been a passion of mine since I was 3-years-old.
When the time comes for me to have an honest job (leave the practice of law), I would like to start a small manufacturing business here in Clay County making boats.
Every month, my favorite sailing magazine, Latitudes and Attitudes, gives a piracy report. For most of the last 10 years, Somalia has been featured regularly in those reports.
It has not made much news, but on Nov. 18, the Maersk Alabama was attacked again by Somali pirates. The Maersk Alabama is a cargo ship where the captain was taken hostage by Somali priates on its lifeboat. On Nov. 18, the pirates utterly failed in their attempt.
Surely, I cannot be the only person to have thought of potential solutions to the problem of modern day piracy.
The Law of the Sea permits any vessel in international waters to be armed. The Law of the Sea, until the mid-20th Century, permitted any vessel that captured pirates to try them by court martial, and if found guilty, the pirates could be summarily executed. When this provision was added to the Law of the Sea, it brought a fairly quick end to the "golden age of piracy." (The golden age of piracy is generally considered to be from approximately 1500 to approximately 1750).
Understandably, most ports today are quite unwilling to allow armed vessels to enter their harbor. Not many places want to iinvite groups of armed foreigners, mostly men, typically young, often single, onto their shores.
These days, virtually all freighters carry their cargo in steel freight containers designed to be trans-loaded onto trains and trucks. These freight containers are designed to stack and attach to each other. Typically, pictures of cargo ships show them with containers stacked well above the decks.
How hard would it be to skeletonize some of these containers, weld a large reinforced steel cylinder to the center, paint the whole thing safety orange, and mount an M2 Browning, .50 Cal machine gun inside the calendrical gun turret. These modified containers could be loaded on the four corners of the ship and manned by the ship's crew if they come under attack. As the ship nears port, these modified containers could be offloaded to a tending vessel and reloaded after leaving port. It should only take one or two attacks on ships with these bright orange corners before the pirates would decide to leave them alone.
To me, there seems to be little difference between stateless thugs who pray on innocents on the water and stateless thugs who pray on innocents on the land or in the air. Is there any reason to treat them in any way other than as pirates? Is there any reason why captured pirates, whether of the land, sea or air variety, should not be tried by court martial, and if found guilty, summarily executed?
Arming merchant ships and executing pirates in the late 1600s and early 1700s brought an end to the golden age of piracy. Isn't it probable that similar techniques could bring an end to the golden age of terrorism?
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