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The Pirates of Somalia, Part II

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In November of last year, I wrote an article about the pirates of Somalia. Since then, things had not got noticeably better, until today, 12 April. Indeed, from the standpoint of the United States, things had got worse. On 8 April, one of the very few U.S. flag freighters still plying international waters, the Maersk Alabama, was attacked as it was carrying relief supplies to Africa. Although the unarmed officers and crew managed to overwhelm the pirates, the pirates were able to take Captain Richard Phillips hostage. Captain Phillips is understood to have been the first U.S. citizen taken by pirates since 1804. Then, the U.S. Navy responded by defeating the Barbary pirates off the northern coast of what is now Libya, and the U.S. Marines stormed the shores of Tripoli.

Between 8 April and 12 April, Captain Phillips had been floating around in the Indian Ocean in one of the Maersk Alabama's lifeboats with four pirates, drifting toward the coast of Somalia. The Maersk Alabama, with an 18-person armed security detail on board continued to her port of destination, Mombasa, where she arrived on 11 April. I have read nothing suggesting why an armed security detail was not on board the Maersk Alabama when she sailed toward an increasingly popular pirate playground. For the reasons stated previously, she should have been so protected, then.

Meanwhile, on 11 April, pirates captured an Italian owned and flagged 75-meter long tugboat with 16 crew in the Gulf of Aden. An Italian navy ship headed to the scene.

Soon after the unsuccessful hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, several U.S. warships arrived to assist her. At some point, Captain Phillips managed to jump into the water from the lifeboat where he was held captive and attempted to swim to safety on the Navy vessel. The pirates apparently fired at him and he was returned to custody. At some later point, a small boat from the Navy vessel approached the lifeboat for reasons which are unclear. It was fired upon and returned to the Navy vessel without returning fire. Then, on 12 April, close to the coast of Somalia,

Capt Phillips was freed in what appeared to be a swift firefight.

Reports say he jumped overboard for a second time, and the pirates were shot and killed before they could take action to get him back.

US forces apparently took advantage of the fact one of the pirates was negotiating on the USS Bainbridge when the incident happened.

The surviving pirate is now in US military custody, and could face trial in the United States. If convicted, he could be punished by life in prison. A Justice Department spokesman stated, "The Justice Department will be reviewing the evidence and other issues to determine whether to seek prosecution in the United States." It has been reported that President Obama gave the go ahead for the rescue and, apparently, for the use of firepower to accomplish it.

Until then, the powers that be were apparently trying, with excruciating patience, to figure out what to do. The pirates, meanwhile, put on a good front.

Somalia's Islamist insurgent movement al Shabaab, on Washington's list of terrorist organizations, lambasted the international naval patrols aimed at keeping ships safe.

"You are the ones who are the pirates. Leave our waters. You will be defeated," said a spokesman. The group denies it has links with the pirates, most of whom used to be poor fishermen.

It should be noted that the Maersk Alabama was attacked some 350 miles off shore in the Indian Ocean, in what are presumably international rather than Somalian waters.

Soon after the unsuccessful hijacking attempt, the FBI started a criminal investigation. It was reported that

The FBI investigation is being run out of New York because the office there oversees cases involving U.S. citizens in Africa. Other field offices take the lead depending on where in the world the crime occurs.

The FBI has a legal attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and has agents elsewhere in Africa to assist the investigation.

Whether charges ever get filed depends on how the standoff plays out. If the pirates are captured at sea, it will be much easier for U.S. authorities to prosecute.

The pirates have summoned reinforcements and are trying to make it back, with the hostage, to lawless Somalia. That would make it harder for authorities to stage a rescue attempt and would make the FBI's case murkier because the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Somalia.

It had previously been reported that the crew of a U.S. destroyer on the scene was cooperating with the FBI in attempting to resolve the matter of the hijacking of the U.S. Flag vessel and the taking hostage of Captain Phillips.

Meanwhile, the United States appeared puzzled and undecided about how to deal with al Shabaab, one of the principal terrorist organizations in Somalia whose spokesman referred to above claimed that the folks trying to limit piracy are themselves pirates and should go away. The possibility of strikes on Somalian soil generated rather heated discussions.

Some in the Defense Department have been frustrated by what they see as a failure to act. Many other national security officials say an ill-considered strike would have negative diplomatic and political consequences far beyond the Horn of Africa. Other options under consideration are increased financial pressure and diplomatic activity, including stepped-up efforts to resolve the larger political turmoil in Somalia.

Neither increased financial pressure nor increased diplomatic activity seems likely to do any good at all, however: There is no viable government in Somalia with which to engage in "increased diplomatic activity," and since piracy has become a major revenue source for the people of Somalia, it is far from obvious where the "increased financial pressure" might be applied.

Along much the same lines,

The vice president of the Philippines, the nation with the largest number of sailors held captive by Somali pirates, appealed Saturday for the safety of hostages to be ensured in the standoff.

"We hope that before launching any tactical action against the pirates, the welfare of every hostage is guaranteed and ensured," said Vice President Noli de Castro.

"Moreover, any military action is best done in consultation with the United Nations to gain the support and cooperation of other countries."

U.S. rules of engagement prevent the Americans using their vastly superior fighting power to engage the pirates if there is any danger to civilians.

Senator John Kerry announced plans to hold hearings "to further examine the growing threat of piracy and all the policy options that need to be on the table before the next fire drill becomes an international incident with big implications." No indication was given as to whether representatives of the pirates would be invited to testify. Although I viewed the holding of hearings as an exercise in political point-making, now that the crisis has passed and the end result was good, such hearings might possibly be productive. The notion of relying on the UN, however, still strikes me as silly, because it seems quite unlikely that the UN would do more than offer a strongly worded condemnation of piracy as it just did in response to the North Korean missile launch. That would certainly work as well with the pirates as it is likely to work with North Korea.

Sitting at a comfortable desk in far away Panama, I am in no position to judge the actions of the officers and crew of the U.S. Navy vessels on site. Nor, since I have never been held hostage, am I in much of a position to argue that the possibility of danger to civilians should not be the absolutely overriding concern. Even the French, however, appear to be prepared to take an occasional risk in that regard, as evidenced by the recent death of a civilian on a hijacked yacht stormed by French navy commandos.

However, I would be curious to learn why, when Captain Phillips jumped out of the life raft and attempted to swim to safety the first time, no covering shots were fired from the Navy destroyer to protect him, and none were fired in at least an attempt to scuttle the life raft bearing the four pirates. Surely, some sharpshooters were aboard. I would also be curious what was hoped to be accomplished by the small Navy complement in a small boat which was chased away by gunfire, which it did not return. There is doubtless a reason. There has to be.

My suspicion is that the captain of the Navy destroyer on scene was waiting for permission from superior authorities, who were in turn awaiting specific guidance from that well known Virginia landmark, the Pentagon aka Puzzle Palace, which was awaiting clear guidance from the State Department and the FBI, which were awaiting clear guidance from the White House. The White House, it has been reported, viewed the whole unfortunate mess as a bit of a distraction and President Obama had made made no public comment prior to the successful outcome after guidance eventually came.

The present hijacking ended well, with the ship, her captain, and crew safe and three of the four pirates dead. The prospects for reductions in piracy are at least modestly encouraging because, in this one instance, piracy has been made to have adverse consequences substantially outweighing the profits. Clearly, it was the proper function of the U.S. to protect her own interests, and she must be better prepared the next time to take similar action, vigorously and without further hesitation.

Now that a precedent has been established and what happened is well known, I hope that piracy, at least against U.S. flag vessels, will be dealt with more quickly based on general guidance given to U.S. Navy vessels operating off Somalia before another hijacking or hostage taking develops. Commanders should not be left to flounder around awaiting specific instructions when something bad happens; they need useful and thorough guidance in advance. While a crisis may be a terrible thing to waste, to waste a victory would be even worse. If similar guidance is promptly given to naval vessels of other nations, at least a dent may be made in the piracy problem. Meanwhile, it still seems imperative that commercial vessels operating in or close to those waters take the reasonable precaution of sailing with a team of properly armed and trained security personnel.

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About Dan Miller

  • Clavos

    When I was a grunt in ‘Nam, I used to marvel at the ease with which the VC and NVA could (most of the time) kick American ass and then slip off into the jungle, only to come back another day and do the same thing — over and over again.

    I marveled, because even to my untutored eyes, the Viet tactics were remarkably similar to those employed by the Americans during our Revolutionary War, and it was inconceivable to me that our command structure could not see the obvious parallel and adjust our tactics accordingly.

    Now, with the Somali pirates, history once more repeats itself. Will the Americans remember their own history with the Barbary pirates and plan their tactical response to the current threat accordingly?

    I’m not optimistic.

  • I’m not optimistic.

    Don’t be. The fools in the Pentagon are too enamored of their toys to remember even who they are….

  • STM

    Latest news is that the American captain of the Maersk Alabama was freed after US special forces snipers shot the pirates.

    And before anyone makes a judgment and says this is bad, let’s remember: the US has been trying to negotiate a peaceful end to this stand-off for the best part of a week.

    At least they gave ’em a chance first.

  • STM

    So yes, Dan, is probably right that they were waiting for permission after the captain jumped overboard the first time.

  • before anyone makes a judgment and says this is bad

    Bad? What’s bad about sending a pirate to a watery grave? Are these also “poor palestinians” that we have to “look at their perspective?”

  • I think it is damn good, and long overdue. However, a possible downside is that the pirates seem to resent it, and may become more nasty.

    The latest raid by U.S. forces on Sunday that saved an American hostage and one by France last week have upped the stakes in shipping lanes off the anarchic Horn of Africa nation where buccaneers have defied foreign naval patrols.

    “The French and the Americans will regret starting this killing. We do not kill, but take only ransom. We shall do something to anyone we see as French or American from now,” Hussein, a pirate, told Reuters by satellite phone.”

    This view has been echoed by Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, who said that the action “could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it.”

    These things may happen, and the situation may escalate further, unless adequate steps are taken to prevent the “buccaneers” from capturing ships. Adequately armed and trained security personnel on board ships transiting the area still seems, to me at least, to be the only viable option. The part of the ocean where the pirates operate is very big, and the available naval vessels are very few and insufficient to prevent piracy. Adequately armed and trained security personnel on board the ships could do just that.


  • A better solution would be to resolve the challenge of Somalia once and for all. The US would be the prime candidate to lead such a mission if it hadn’t already blown most of its international credibility and goodwill in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • M ark

    The US would be the prime candidate to lead such a mission…

    …in coalition with Iran.

  • I don’t see why the USA and Iran couldn’t work together again, in theory at least… 🙂

  • Christopher, why do you think the U.S. should lead a mission to pacify Somalia and rid the world of pirates? There are precious few U.S. flag carriers now plying the high seas, and even fewer transiting the area where the pirates operate. There lots of ships from other nations doing so.

    Piracy is a direct U.S. problem only when a U.S. flag carrier is attacked, and posting well armed and trained security forces on board those vessels would be relatively inexpensive. Even piracy against vessels of other nations appears to have little impact on the U.S. To take the lead as you suggest would smack of imperialism, wouldn’t it? Surely, you don’t mean to suggest that the U.S. should revert to its wicked imperialist ways, do you?

    How about Egypt? Turkey? Even (formerly) Great Britain, perhaps. Britannia once ruled the waves; remember? How about the EU?


  • The US and Iran are natural allies if we could just put aside a few temporary differences.


  • A better solution would be to resolve the challenge of Somalia once and for all. The US would be the prime candidate to lead such a mission

    And how did that work out the last time?

  • Doc, And how did that work out the last time? Actually, it worked out very well — from the standpoint of the warlords and (now) the pirates. It did not turn out at all well for the U.S. or for others.

    A friend who was flying into Somalia for one of the CIA’s pet airlines told me that he saw people burying their weapons and making no note of where to find them later. They well knew that they would have no need for them, since the weapons brought in for the peacekeeping mission were far superior and would soon be available. They were quite prescient.

    There is no basis for the speculation that the White House has ordered the Marine Hymn to be changed to delete the bit about the Halls of Montezuma and the Shores of Tripoli. However, it’s time for the EU to deal with these problems. Then, the U.S. can complain about their imperialistic tendencies.


    Oh [redacted]!

  • Dan, because the US likes to think of itself as the global policeman? Wasn’t that the reasoning for these two operations? There are (and were) far worse states than Iraq and Afghanistan…

    The US is a global player and, as such, has never stopped being imperialist.

    Dave – indeed they are. Unfortunately, both of them seem to have forgotten that fact due to the fog of religion, not war.

    Doc, it didn’t work out well before cos it was a half-assed plan, just like Gulf Wars 1 and 2. The US doesn’t seem very good at planning, which is ironic for such a heavily governed and legalistic society.

  • Christopher, the US likes to think of itself as the global policeman. . . Could it be that you missed the recent U.S. election? Or are you thinking of the constables in Pirates of Penzance?

    Where is Lord Palmerston when he is needed? Ah, for Good Queen Bess’ Glorious Days.


  • There are (and were) far worse states than Iraq and Afghanistan…

    Iraq, possibly. However, Afghanistan under the Taliban made Saudi Arabia look like a hippy paradise.

  • Burma, Somalia, Zimbabwe, North Korea to name but four.

    Saudi Arabia would be another candidate too, however all of them are tougher problems than the two countries that did get attacked and, SA the Moslem equivalent of the Vatican apart, there is no oil or heroin to exploit in those countries. Funny that…

  • Hey, guys — why are we thinking up a bunch of unfortunate countries to invade? Do you perhaps mean for the UK or the UN or the EU to do it? The U.S. is closed for that sort of business.

    The U.S. will, however, be willing to do her share by teaching the military bands of the invading forces how to play Kumbaya and I’d like to teach the world to sing. No problem there; wouldn’t be even a teeny little bit imperialistic.


    Covers ears at the mere thought.

  • Baronius

    There are outrageous restrictions against having armed personnel on a ship. Having even a handgun on board is illegal.

    Obama did the right thing in okaying the strike. I doubt that anything is going to come out of Kery’s hearings though. What we need to do is put a couple of submarines off the coast, and blow up the first thing we see that’s bigger than a fish.

  • Cindy

    I’ve been reconsidering the idea that women should take over the world.

  • Patriot

    Where the hell is Rambo when you need him? It is time for the worlds shippers to get together and wipe out the #&*@# pirates. We have the technology and the special forces to do it.

  • Baronius, I keep hearing about those restrictions. Yet, the Alabama made port with a team of well armed and trained Navy snipers.

    As I understand the situation, nearly all of the (very few) U.S. flag vessels operating in the area infested by pirates are delivering relief supplies. Fortunately or otherwise, the U.S. merchant fleet is very small, since operation of U.S. flag vessels is significantly more costly than, say, Panamanian or Greek flag vessels.

    I do not suggest that untrained crew members on board U.S. flag vessels be trained and armed. There are sufficient ex-special forces, ex-Marine, ex-Navy Seal, etc. folks to do the job and to do it well.

    To the extent that U.S. Government regulations forbid arming merchant vessels, the regulations should be changed. To the extent that the receiving countries decline to permit armed merchant vessels, perhaps they should reconsider their positions and decide how badly they want the relief supplies. To the extent that insurance company regulations exclude coverage when ships defend against pirates, perhaps the U.S. should offer supplementary coverage for U.S. flag vessels in such circumstances. There are doubtless other possibilities.

    I agree that President Obama finally did the right thing. However, if the Alabama had had a team of well trained and well armed security forces on board at the time of the attempted hijacking, and had they adequately defended the ship against the relatively small (four, as I recall) force of pirates, there would have been no need for him, or the U.S. Navy, to act.

    To put a couple of submarines off the coast, and blow up the first thing we see that’s bigger than a fish strikes me as rather off the wall. It would more than likely require operation within the territorial waters of Somalia. Somalia has a very long coast, and monitoring surface movements adequately to distinguish the bad guys from “innocent fishermen” would be quite difficult.


  • Clavos

    There are sufficient ex-special forces, ex-Marine, ex-Navy Seal, etc. folks to do the job and to do it well.

    I’m a bit long in the tooth, but I do have combat experience and would gladly ride shotgun on a ship for the welcome opportunity of blowing some of those bastards to hell.

  • STM

    Dan: “To take the lead as you suggest would smack of imperialism, wouldn’t it? Surely, you don’t mean to suggest that the U.S. should revert to its wicked imperialist ways, do you?”

    See, from this naughty side of the anglosphere fence, Dan, that’s our problem … deep down, we still think imperialism = OK. I’m not sure the sons of Brittania are ever in any position to lecture Americans about imperialism, either (although they will).

    Mind you, I say: let the cannoballs fly, and hang ’em high. The Royal Navy are already leading the EU’s anti-piracy task force in the region. Perhaps everyone could join forces.

    They’re just fucking pirates and they need some more lessons because if every bastard keeps payng them off instead of standing up to them, they’re never going to go away.

    The problem is, it’s now on such a massive scale, it’s impossible to provide a naval screen that can cover every ship. Perhaps they need to set up some kind of system where merchant vessels can go in convoys from now on, protected.

  • STM

    Clav: “gladly ride shotgun on a ship for the welcome opportunity of blowing some of those bastards to hell.”

    Lol. Good to see you haven’t lost the will, Clav. If you go, I’m coming too.

  • Clavos writes: I’m a bit long in the tooth, but I do have combat experience and would gladly ride shotgun on a ship for the welcome opportunity of blowing some of those bastards to hell. Stan adds: Lol. Good to see you haven’t lost the will, Clav. If you go, I’m coming too.

    I’m also a bit long in tooth, and with a lot less combat experience than Clavos, but I can handle a weapon and I don’t get seasick – period. Riding shotgun with Stan and Clavos could be a whole hell of a lot more interesting than the patrol duty I do now. If I bring along about 100 cans of loof, the IDF version of SPAM to go with the hardtack, I’ll be good to go….

    I’d come back skinny as a rail and tanned like leather.

  • Baronius

    Are we organizing a BC field trip?

  • Count me in. I’ve always dreamed of being a soldier of fortune.

  • Baronius

    As I understand it, if you arm a vessel sufficiently to withstand an attack by a pirate ship, you pretty much are a pirate ship. I don’t know what aspect of naval law allows you to put 18 USN sharp-shooters on a vessel, but I doubt that anyone’s going to make a fuss over it. International treaties are kind of sketchy about this stuff.

    As a practical matter, insurers won’t let you carry weapons on board a ship because too many things can go wrong. A crew is normally trained in the use of flare guns and water cannons, but in case of emergency, the rule is to head for the lifeboats. Really, if you were an insurer, would you let a bunch of armed Blogcritics on a vessel?

  • Clavos

    Really, if you were an insurer, would you let a bunch of armed Blogcritics on a vessel?

    After they signed waivers, sure.

  • Really, if you were an insurer, would you let a bunch of armed Blogcritics on a vessel?

    Baronius, Whopper Sandwiches aren’t the only things you learn how to cook when you manage a Burger King…. Cooking books (and by extgension, manifests) also come with the job….

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    As long as I can wear my sleeveless heavy metal T-shirt(preferably Maiden’s “Aces High”) while firing an assault rifle M-60 with a can bottle of Coors Light Cabo Wabo in my hand,then, sign me up!!

    *Arrgghh* It’s drivin me nuts…

  • Brian, bring your heavy metal tunes and I’ll bring my Billy Joel and Dire Straits…. I’m sure Clavos, Stan and Roger can bring more variety (Stan can bring his broom to sing “Waltzing Matilda” to) and we can make this a real fun gig….

  • I am afraid, Ruvy, that me and Stan have reached the point of no return. Too much bad blood. It’s not my desire, but I’m certain that’s how he feels.

  • Baronius, if you arm a vessel sufficiently to withstand an attack by a pirate ship, you pretty much are a pirate ship. I thought that the pirates were the guys attacking merchant vessels for booty. Armed merchant ships would probably have defense more in mind; there may be a difference. Defending a ship against half a dozen pirates should not require more than a few, certainly no more than a dozen, well armed and trained people.

    My primary concern is with the very few U.S. flag vessels remaining in international waters. Nor do I think it is the proper function of the U.S. to lead an assault on Somalia; She’s been there, done that, and didn’t even get a tee shirt. It was a dumb thing to do.

    As to the BC field trip, sounds like great fun. However, I am probably a bit too long in the tooth and, in any event, doubt that I could hit the water at ten paces with a shotgun; I would be more trouble than I’m worth. No, I would not volunteer to be a hostage.

    The United States appears no longer to deem it her proper function to make the world safe for commerce or, for that matter, for democracy. She has received tremendous encouragement from much of the world to repent of, and to make amends for, her wicked, unenlightened and old fashioned ways.

    As all right thinking people now realize, the Imperialist United States perversely invaded Europe in 1917 and again in 1941; she massed troops in the Pacific to retaliate most aggressively against peace loving Japan for her well deserved, defensive, attack on Pearl Harbor, and she even had the poor taste to drop atom bombs on two peaceful Japanese cities full of innocent civilians back in 1945. Even the Marshall Plan was an imperialist ploy to control Europe. She invaded Korea in 1950 to assist the puppet regime of South Korea against North Korea’s progressive and enlightened forces for good under the benign leadership of her friends in China and in Russia. Soon after she and her legions of baby killers left Vietnam, tail between legs, she went into Somalia and left in much the same way.

    For Shame! I say. Never again. Hell, President Obama already has more than enough for which to apologize on behalf of the “old” United States; it will probably take him eight years to do a proper job of it.

    The United States should look out for her own interests and the countries in the rest of the world should look out for their own.


    The fact that I just returned from transporting a ton of chicken shit to our finca has in no way colored my views.

  • Whopper Sandwiches aren’t the only things you learn how to cook when you manage a Burger King…. Cooking books […] also comes with the job….

    I thought the lettuce tasted a bit woody last time I had a Whopper…

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “Soon after she and her legions of baby killers left Vietnam”

    Dan…Were you there or were you going by what your forgetful friend Dan(Rather) reported?

  • Brian,

    Why no, I wasn’t there. However, there were reliable reports by Jane Fonda and Senator Kerry. Are you suggesting that they should be doubted?


    Departs silently for Code Pink Auxiliary meeting.

  • Baronius

    Dan, I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy, who’s greatly enthused about the new administration. OK, seriously, this played out about as well as it could have. Some people defied America, and now most of them are dead. Kudos to Obama.

    I love this idea of a group of online political foes banding together and defending a ship against pirates. This could be a Hollywood blockbuster – a comedy, with a heroic action-packed ending. Tom Hanks as Ruvy, Morgan Freeman as Dan(M)/narrator, and Julia Roberts as Cindy, the woman who loved them both. Hugh Jackman as Dr. Dreadful and Michale Caine as STM (because Hollywood always gets accents wrong). I see myself as a Vin Diesel or Adam Sandler type. This thing writes itself.

  • Baronius, my enthusiasm is rather more dilute. However, I think that President Obama did about the best we could have expected in the circumstances. My concerns about why it took so long for the decision to fire to be taken have not been assuaged, nor have the other concerns expressed in the article. Without more information, it would be fruitless to speculate about these things.

    In any event, we should, long ago and well before President Obama’s watch began on 20 January, have anticipated an incident such as this which, given time, was almost a certainty. We could then have been proactive rather than reactive, which left the officers and crew of the Alabama needlessly in quite a lot of danger. The only solution I can think of which seems to me likely to work is, as I have said before, to provide well trained and armed security forces for all U.S. flag vessels transiting the area. This seems even more appropriate now, since spokesmen for the pirates have threatened revenge against U.S. shipping.


  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “However, there were reliable reports by Jane Fonda and Senator Kerry.”

    *Smirk*..Sorry Dan… I didn’t catch your sarcasm(?) until it was too late.

    “…long ago and well before President Obama’s watch began on 20 January, have anticipated an incident such as this which, given time, was almost a certainty.”

    Ahh…yes, hindsight is a wonderful attribute and is usually 20/20

  • Brian, yes, I was being sarcastic, pretty much through the entire comment. And yes, hindsight is usually nearly perfect. However, some things are more readily foreseeable than others, and I think the likelihood of a pirate attack either last week or next month or sometime in the near future was readily foreseeable.

    Now for some good news, and I am not making it up: According to the Chinese press, when Chinese merchant ships were being escorted through the Gulf of Aden by a Chinese warships, they were approached by several small pirate vessels. Fortunately for all concerned, thousands of dolphins intervened and turned the pirates back.

    Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday.

    The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China’s fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China’s.[sic]

    The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness before the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.

    This is an obvious solution to the piracy problem which had not previously occurred to me. I wonder how the Chinese navy arranged it.


  • I agree with Christopher’s #7. It almost defies imagination that we can’t restore law and order and lawful government to this little nation. Of course, the occupation of Iraq has been a drain on American military resources for 7 years now and counting. Meanwhile, we seem to be impotent when it comes to putting out these little fires and trouble spots the world over. Even instituting a temporary marshal law in Somalia would be an improvement, and it’s rather difficult to argue that it would lie beyond the U.S. capability.

    The problem is there is no political will, because there’s nothing economically to gain. The same old story of US. intervention only in cases when it’s in America’s direct interest. And when it’s not, humanitarian concerns are of little or no effect.

  • Another Hijacking, as if the recent incident wasn’t enough.

    It’s a disgrace that the international community allows this situation to continue.

  • “Advice to Pirates: Call your ransom demands ‘taxes.’ Give yourself titles like ‘President,’ ‘Admiral,’ &’Congressman.’

    (seen on twitter today)

  • STM

    Rog: “I am afraid, Ruvy, that me and Stan have reached the point of no return. Too much bad blood. It’s not my desire, but I’m certain that’s how he feels”

    No Rog, I don’t hate you.

    I just believe in free speech. That’s your right to express a point of view, and mine to oppose it, and vice-versa. Forcefully expressed or not, that’s all it is.

    Being an anglo (celt), I come from a 200-year-long tradition of this robust exchange of ideas and views without it leading to a) sulking, or b) physical violence.

    I don’t have any desire to dong you one in the nose.

    You are welcome to join the BC anti-piracy task force, but if Clav is going to wear his Aussie hat, I’m wearing one of his his Yank ones.

    The poor buggers won’t know what’s hit ’em.

    Pirate: “Two old beared guys in hats of the port bow … let’s surrender now before they unleash the BC gabfest on us. We won’t survive the night.”

  • Clavos

    …but if Clav is going to wear his Aussie hat, I’m wearing one of his his Yank ones.

    The poor buggers won’t know what’s hit ’em.

    Great idea! We’ll confuse ’em to death!

  • STM

    Dan: “Dolphins … This is an obvious solution to the piracy problem which had not previously occurred to me. I wonder how the Chinese navy arranged it.”

    Lol. Very potent hallucinogens, possibly. If so, does the story give us any idea of where I might get some?

  • Well, I’m glad to hear that, STM. I’m also not good at holding grudges. You probably know that we, Poles, also come from a long tradition of heated debates and open-ended exchanges. One reason, BTW, for Poland’s political misfortunes. They had a practice in the Polish Sejm (the Parliament) whereby a single vote against any proposed legislative issue would prevent the passage: the Liberum veto. Needless to say, the conditions of perfect unanimity were almost never reached, with disastrous political results, I might add.

  • Cindy

    Dan S.(Miller),

    Some news I thought you might like to know about.

    “A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.”

  • Re Comment #42,

    This just in from the Intergalactic News, published in conjunction with the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

    Actions by the dolphins which turned away pirate vessels preparing to attack Chinese merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden were grossly misinterpreted. In reality, the dolphins had been reading articles on such popular web sites as BlogCritics; in anticipation of the soon to happen end of the Earth, they were preparing to leave and were saying, “So long and thanks for all the fish.”


  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    A Pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel in his pants. Finds his way to a stool,slowly sits down & the bartender asks,”Hey,matey,ya know you have a steering wheel in your pants?”.

    The Pirate replies” “Arrgghh, I know, it’s drivin’ me nuts!”

  • STM

    Pirate walks into a bar and orders a beer.

    Barman asks: “Where’s yer buccaneers?”

    Pirate replies: ” Where d’yer buckin’ think they are? … underneath me buckin’ ‘at!”

  • More crime news:

    Thieves broke into the 23rd precinct station house in Manhattan last night and stole all the toilets from both the men’s and women’s restrooms. Police say they have nothing to go on.

  • You must be kidding. What would they want with the toilets?

  • Clavos

    If so, does the story give us any idea of where I might get some?

    Try the nearest whorehouse.

    Oh wait! Not THAT “some.”

    Sea World has lots of dolphin.

    Still wrong? OK, I give up — “Some” what??

  • Clavos

    Couple arrives curbside at Kennedy airport, Skycap walks up to the man and asks, “Carry your bag mister?”

    “Nah, let ‘er walk.”


  • A US high school teacher asked her class to write down the meaning of the following phrase:

    Sic transit gloria mundi

    Only one kid was able to answer. He wrote:

    My sister Gloria threw up on the bus on her way to work after the weekend.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Come on now… It’s supposed to be pirate jokes only. I mean there’s been some good ones here but try to stay with the subject.

  • Sorry, Guppy. After Cindy’s #50 I thought we’d just degenerated into a general free-for-all of terrible jokes.

  • Clavos

    I, too, saw it as obvious that the only genre requirement was “terrible.”

    But, OK:

    A pirate walks into a bar wearing a paper towel on his head. He sits down at the bar and orders some dirty rum.

    The bartender asks, “Why are you wearing a paper towel?”

    “Arrr…” says the pirate. “I’ve got a bounty on me head!”

  • Cindy

    How much does it cost for a pirate to pierce his ears?

    A buck an ear! Aaaarrrgh!

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    I just figured if we were gonna hijack this thread at least it could be,somewhat,on the same topic as the article. Really, though, I wasn’t getting offended. I like all jokes(even the terrible ones)

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    *Oops* “Hijack”…. no pun intended.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    If there are three flies in a kitchen, Which one is the Cowboy?

    The one sittin’ on the range….


  • STM

    “I’ve got a bounty on me head!”

    Lol The chocolate kind, and if so, melted I presume?

    Just not sure if we’re on English cross-lingo wavelengths here.

    Kangaroo walks into a bar and orders a beer.

    The barman asks: “Hey, mate … something wrong? Why the long face?”

  • Clavos


    Hate to do this (explain a joke), but since you may not have ’em in Oz, it seems necessary, mate.

    One of the biggest-selling brands of paper towels here is Bounty.


  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “You must be kidding. What would they want with the toilets?”

    LOL…Roger, you’re kidding right??

    The Police have nothing to go on…

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    There was an elderly man who wanted to make his younger wife pregnant.

    So, he went to the doctor to have a sperm count done. The doctor told him to take a specimen cup home, fill it, and bring it back the next day. The elderly man came back the next day and the specimen cup was empty and the lid was on it.

    Doctor: What was the problem?

    Elderly man: Well, you I tried with my right hand…nothing. So, I tried with my left hand…nothing. My wife tried with her right hand…nothing. Her left hand…nothing. Her mouth…nothing. Then my wife’s friend tried. Right hand, left hand, mouth….still nothing.

    Doctor: Wait a minute. You mean your wife’s friend too?!

    Elderly man: Yeah, and we still couldn’t get the lid off of the specimen cup.

  • Yes. But you’ve got to say it with the straight face to get the full effect.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    *Aw-Shit*…Straight face?!

    You Bastard

  • Clavos

    Nice recovery!

  • Man on a business trip walks into the penthouse bar at his hotel. He’s not really sure what he wants so he goes up to the guy sitting at the bar and asks him what he’s drinking.
    ‘Magic beer,’ the guy says.
    ‘Magic beer? What’s magic about it?’
    ‘This,’ the guy says. He takes a chug of his drink, puts down the glass, gets up, walks over to the window, opens it, flies three times around the building, comes back inside, sits back down at the bar and carries on drinking.
    ‘Wow, that’s great!’ the businessman says. ‘I’ll have what he’s having.’
    So he buys his drink, takes a chug, gets up, walks over to the window, opens it, jumps out and plummets 50 stories to his death.
    The bartender turns to the guy at the bar and says, ‘You know, Superman, you can be a real bastard when you’re drunk.’

  • Actually, Brian, Clav, I lied. But I sure caught it the second time.

  • What’s less funny, GeorgeReeves was purported to jump to his death, drunk or sober.

    The circumstances surrounding his death are still a mystery,

  • George Reeves. This link should work.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    A kindergarten teacher one day is trying to explain to her class the definition of the word “definitely” to them. To make sure the students have a good understanding of the word, she asks them to use it in a sentence. The first student raised his hand and said “The sky is definitely blue”. The teacher said, “Well, that isn’t entirely correct, because sometimes it’s gray and cloudy”.

    Another student says, “Grass is definitely green.” The teacher again replies “If grass doesn’t get enough water it turns brown, so that isn’t really correct either.”

    Another student raises his hand and asks the teacher “Do farts have lumps?” The teacher looked at him and said “No…But that isn’t really a question you want to ask in class discussion.” So the student replies, “Then I definitely shit my pants.”

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    It is a shame about George Reeves but they do believe it was Depression that caused him to commit suicide. Anyways, it was a good joke and there’s no reason to bring down the mood with that unfortunate tragedy.

  • You’re right. I’ll lighten up.

  • Clavos

    Actually, Brian, Clav, I lied. But I sure caught it the second time.

    I know. That’s why I posted “Nice recovery!” in response to your #76.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Roger, I wasn’t trying to reprimand you for your thoughts. It’s just so easy to get down especially by thinking of those unfortunate events that happen to people for no good reason. Kinda like Jim Henson & the distaste he had for medical science.

  • A gymnast walks into a bar. Her coach says, ‘You’re too tall to do this sport any more.’

  • Oh, Gawd! This joke appreciation chair is really torture, and last “joke” was simply pregnant with inconceivable and unbearable pain.

    Agggghhhhgghh!! Whimper…


  • #82

    I knew you knew. So I just owned up.

  • Cindy

    What does a stoned pirate say?
    FARRrrrrgh out, matey!

    What does a pirate pay for a gallon of gas?
    An arrrrrrm and a peg!

    What’s a pirate’s favorite instrument?
    His arrrrmpit! (note to pirate: don’t use the hook!)

  • According to CNN,

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Liberty Sun, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship bound for Mombasa, Kenya, was attacked Tuesday by Somali pirates, according to a NATO source with direct knowledge of the matter.

    The pirates never made it onto the ship. The vessel is now being escorted by a coalition ship, still bound for Mombasa.

    The source could provide no details on where the vessel was attacked but said it is suspected the pirates were based on a mother ship somewhere in the area.

    There should be additional details eventually on why the attack was unsuccessful.


  • Clavos

    Cindy #87:

    I found that site, too.

    What do you call a stupid pirate?

    The pillage idiot!

  • STM

    Clav: “One of the biggest-selling brands of paper towels here is Bounty”

    No, sigh, we don’t have that brand.

    But we do have a chocolate bar called a Bounty, which actually comes in a single pack as two small bars; if one of these melted on one’s head it would certainly necessitate the use of a paper towel.

    So it kinda works.

  • STM

    Q: What do you call an Englishman from Dover who has no arms and no legs and a seagull on his head?

    A: Cliff.

    Q: What do you call a man with no arms and no legs who is floating in a pool?

    A: Bob.

    Q: What do you call a man with no arms and no legs who is lying in a pile of leaves?

    A: Russel

  • Q: What d’you call an Aussie gravedigger?
    A: Doug.

    Q: What d’you call an Aussie gravedigger with no shovel?
    A: Douglas.

  • Apparently, the Liberty Sun, headed to Mombasa with relief supplies, sustained damage when rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons were fired, but no crew members were hurt.

    The USS Bainbridge, which had rescued the Maersk Alabama, was on site within hours, although the pirates had already left by the time the warship got there.


  • Cindy

    Here’s one especially for you from that site Clav.

    What do you call a pirate with no eye?

    A prate!

  • Mmm, Bounty. I like the plain chocolate version best.

    There are a couple of similar things over here. One is, for some reason, called Mounds. The other is Almond Joy. The almonds don’t really add anything. Plus, they’re made by Hershey, with the consequent sub-flavour of caramelized vomit.

  • STM

    What’s the plain choc version Doc? The dark chocolate version you mean?

  • Q: What did the optometrist say to the pirate who went for an eye test?

    A: “Your left eye’s useless. Not a patch on the other one.”

  • Oh, buggeration, Stan. Don’t tell me you’ve gone all Sepponated down there and call it dark chocolate instead of plain…

  • Clavos

    Poor Dan(Miller), valiantly (and politely, unlike some other writers) trying to bring his thread back on topic, and all of us blithely ignore him, continuing with the horrendously bad pirate jokes.

    Sic transit gloria Danny…

    Scuttles away into the darkness, hands on head for protection against thrown projectiles.

  • STM

    Geez, mate, you hate that Hersheys stuff eh?

    You can get it here, but only Americans buy it. Once you’ve eaten Cadbury’s in your childhood, all other “standard-type” chocolate tastes crap.

    I don’t mind the little Hershey chocolates with peanut butter inside.

    When we have Yank functions here for our Septic mates – thanksgiving or independence day – we try to make the poor blossoms feel right at home by providing some little American treats.

    Not sure how they feel about the doctored up flags we’ve used though, which have a Union Jack in the corner instead of the 50 stars 🙂 (I must say, the Union Jack and Stripes is actually a very nice-looking flag. Check the Hawaiian State flag for an idea)

    Even when you want them to feel at home, it’s important to continually remind them of exactly where they are.

    I always offer them my deep condolences on Independence Day, too … “the anniversary of their great mistake in breaking away from the British Empire”.

  • Clav, #99 — not at all. It’s all on thread: one hijacking is much like another.


  • Clavos

    Touché, mon ami…

  • STM

    Man walks out on the street in Belfast.

    As he turns a corner, a masked gunman shoves an Ak-47 into his forehead.

    The gunman asks: “Are ye a Catholic or a Protestant?”

    The guys thinks for a moment, and comes up with a great idea.

    He says: “Neither … I’m Jewish”.

    “Seriously?” says the gunman. “I must be the luckiest Palestinian in the whole of Northern Ireland”.

  • Opps, #97

  • STM

    An Irish teacher asks her Dublin class to use the word “contagious”.

    Roland, the teacher’s pet, gets up and says, “Last year I got the measles and me mum said it was contagious.”

    “Well done, Roland,” says the
    teacher. “Can anyone else try?”

    Katie, a sweet little girl with pigtails, says, “Me grandma says there’s
    a bug going round, and it’s contagious.”

    “Well done, Katie,” says the

    “Anyone else?”

    Little Sean jumps up and says in a broad Dublin accent, “Our next door neighbour is painting his house with a 2-inch brush, and me dad says it’ll take the contagious.”

  • Cindy

    Wow, I can’t believe I got that one.

  • Why is a contagious like a BigMac?

    They are both spelled differently.

    (I’m not going to sign my name to this sort of stuff.)

  • Cindy


    No comprendo.

    I can´t even find that joke on the internet. And for some reason, I have a feeling that no one is going to want to explain that one.

  • Cindy

    Help Silas!

    Do you get that joke?

  • STM

    An Englishman, an Irishman and an Australian walk into a bar.

    The barman says: “What’s this? Some kind of joke?”

  • STM

    Q: What’s a pirate’s favourite brand of suit?

    A: Aaaarrghmani!

  • Cindy, sweetie. Are you talking about the contagious joke? The woman is painting her house with a two inch brush. And the Irishman in his thick brogue says, “it’s take the contagious”. So, if we take the word contagious and break it into two words, we have C_ _ _ and AGES. If you need further clarification, Eve Ensler does a great piece about that lovely word in the Vagina Monologues.

  • Cindy

    A Dyslexic man walks into a bra…

  • Cindy

    Silas I got that one. It’s Dan S.(Miller)’s I don’t get.

    They’re both spelled differently?

  • Cindy,

    Well, they are, aren’t they? I mean, you know, you could probably try to spell them the same, but that wouldn’t work very well. If BigMac were spelled (and pronounced) contagious, you’d feel pretty silly ordering one at your friendly local McDonald’s. And, of course, if you were to ask your doctor whether your cold were BigMac, he’d likely send you for a fitting in a white coat with the arms secured in uncomfortable places.

    If you don’t understand now, I can’t provide much more assistance. Sorry.


  • Cindy

    lol Dan S.(Miller), is that all there was to it?

    I guess I get it after all.

  • #105 is probably the only joke on the thread that Roger got…

  • Clavos

    And now for something completely different…

    A bar customer asked the bartender if he wanted to hear a Swede joke.

    The bartender pointed to a large man at the end of the bar and said, “He’s Swedish.” Then the bartender pointed to a burly policeman near the door and repeated, “He’s Swedish.” The bartender finished, “Now think about whether you want to tell that joke, because I’m Swedish, too.”

    The customer replied, “I guess I won’t tell that joke after all. I’d have to explain it three times.”

  • Clavos

    There was a power failure in Stockholm.

    Hundreds of Swedes were trapped on escalators.

  • Clavos

    Q: What do you get if you cross a Swede and a Gypsy?

    A: A car thief who can’t drive.

  • Not quite, Doc. Got a few more besides. #108 is the one I like.

  • STM

    Did you hear the one about the chinaman who broke into a house.

    When the homeowner got back five hours later, his computer was fixed but the thief was still trying to back out of the driveway.

  • The following transcript is from an audio tape recorded at President Obama’s most recent press conference:

    Q: Mr President, why did the chicken cross the road?

    A: Well, Jim, my views on this have not changed. But what I want to do is not focus on my views on the issue but focus on the views of the chicken. Did it wish to cross the road or did it feel compelled to because of the economic recession? As you know, many chickens are dissatisfied and cling to their nests and birdseed. We’re working on this in partnership with PETA, livestock farmers, Chick-Fil-A and the French government. I want to say that we are going to be a partner in confronting these issues across America. And with a view to that, we will soon be setting up focus groups and investing in a comprehensive action plan to help that chicken and his family move forward so that he can cross not just one road, but two, four or however many he wishes to. Now as Vice-President Biden said the other day…

    [At this point there is a noise on the tape similar to snoring and a comatose body sliding to the floor, and the recording ends]

  • STM

    Doc: [At this point there is a noise on the tape similar to snoring and a comatose body sliding to the floor, and the recording ends]

    Mate, if you think Obama’s boring, try five minutes of Kevin Rudd.

    Perfect antidote to insomia: they should market him as the organic alternative to Mogadon.

  • It’s not so much that I think he’s boring, Stan – you know what a charismatic speaker he can be. But he does have a tendency to waffle.

    He reminds me sometimes of my old boss (who was Australian, as it happens): never a word where a thousand will do.

  • Clavos

    An old writing prof’s favorite saying:

    “Never say ‘blah, blah, blah’ when just ‘blah’ will do…

  • STM

    Doc “An Australian … never a word where a thousand will do”.

    Yep, that’s us Doc … nothing like baffling everyone with bullsh.t, especially when you’re making it up as go along.

    Rudd’s pretty good at that. I’m glad little Johnny got the bum’s rush at the last election and I love having a Labor PM, but I just wish it’d been someone like Keating again.

    Keating’s performance in Parliament was like great theatre, only waaaaay better.

    He used to call the Opposition “scumbags”. Lol.

    He even suggested that being attacked in the House by one former Opposition Leader was like being flogged with a piece of warm lettuce.

    Howard was “a carcass swinging in the breeze, and no one had the guts to cut him down”. Great stuff.

    That’s what Americans need: genuine, rowdy, fingerpointing free-for-all theatrics in Congress.

    I guess not having the president sitting on the government benches – which is probably not what they’re called – when it’s sitting kind of takes away from the circus of it all a bit.

  • STM

    Irish 7-course meal:

    Six pack of Guinness and a potato.

  • STM

    Sorry Dan 🙂

  • Did you hear about the redneck who thought Moby Dick was an STD as opposed to great literature?

    P.S. Cindy, I still don’t really get the contagious/BigMac joke. I mean, personally I’ve had things referred to as BigMac that actually weren’t related to the brand but that’s a discussion for another thread.

  • Silas,

    Just think of it as a joke about jokes.

  • Oh, now I get it.

  • The young Somalian gentleman detained by the U.S. Navy when he and his playmates attacked the U.S. merchant vessel Alabama will be tried by a Federal court in New York instead of being turned over to authorities in Kenya, “which has an international agreement to prosecute pirates.” Apparently, it is not yet known whether he will be dealt with as a juvenile or as an adult. The FBI is said to be investigating his age.


  • You should connect parts of your article to the recent one by Khan on the same subject. It deals precisely with matters of “ultimate” jurisdiction in term of the laws of Allah.

    I find it rather odd that there’s virtually no response from either side of the political spectrum.

    Out of political correctness?

  • Out of political correctness? I don’t know whether that’s the reason, but it does appear that political correctness is one of the dominant driving forces in U.S. society.


  • Well, that’s one of the most provocative articles I have yet come across in a long time. And informative, too, if true. Yet, there’s barely any response to speak of.