Britannia and the waves

Fast sea boats from HMS Cumberland had been launched after the dhow refused to stop when it was positively identified as a ship involved in an earlier hijack attempt on a Danish ship.

But when the ratings from the Type 42 frigate began circling the dhow the pirates opened fire on them.

In an intense exchange of fire two Somalis were killed instantly by machine guns firing from the Navy boats.

Cowed by the accuracy of the fire the dhow crew surrendered. The sailors boarded the boat and found a seriously injured Yemeni pirate who was immediately treated by the Cumberland\’s doctor but he died from his wounds.

Hmm, so we\’ve got a British warship working out there. It\’s part of a NATO task force.

So, err, why are the EU trying to set up a mission? We already seem to have matters in hand, no?

14 comments on “Britannia and the waves

  1. Now all they need to do is to hang the rest of the crew of the dhow, otherwise we’ll no doubt be forced to give them asylum for “infringing their human rights”. Do Type 22 destroyers have yard-arms?

    The situation there demands some serious responses, either warships prepared to literally blow pirates out of the water or, possibly better, “Q” Ships to do the same. I’d venture to suggest that rag-tag pirates would become far more circumspect in attacking merchant vessels once they realised that they could actually be on the receiving end of a “discretely armed” vessel.

  2. “Naval commanders in the Gulf have requested ray gun technology … The Active Denial system delivers a six foot wide ray over a range of 800 yards. Anyone caught within the beam experiences an overwhelming sensation of burning skin.”

    Bows and arrows against the lightning.

    Incidentally, this “sensation of burning skin”, is it like the “sensation of drowning” you get with water boarding, i.e., if you don’t seek shelter, does the skin actually burn?

  3. The Active Denial system delivers a six foot wide ray over a range of 800 yards.

    According to the MoD, a type 22 frigate has: “armament – Harpoon surface to surface missiles, GWS 25 Mod 3 Seawolf missile system, 1 x 4.5 Mk 8 gun, Goalkeeper gun, and two 20mm guns.”.

    One would have thought that one or two selected from that little lot would be far more effective! 🙂

  4. Exactly how does a dhow or other low-in-the-water boats get to stop high-sided ships?
    Also all the righteous anger about pirates comes ill from a country whose maritime tradition is based around piracy, smuggling and privateering
    (aka state-sponsored piracy).
    Mind you Q-ships sound like a good idea, perhaps with letters of marque to enable them to keep any prize money they can capture plus dead-or-alive bounty money.

  5. You’d think a paper that claims to be all for defence of the realm could get the basics right. The Type 42 was a destroyer not a frigate and the class was named after cities (Sheffield, Newcastle etc). Cumberland is a Type 22 Frigate.

  6. DBC Reed : “Exactly how does a dhow or other low-in-the-water boats get to stop high-sided ships?”

    Machine-gunning the wheelhouse / bridge usually works quite well I believe. Other ships have been attacked whilst at anchor – the pirates climb up the anchor-chains.

  7. @Pogo
    Some of these pirates turn up in broad daylight in rigid inflatables ,so the machine guns they use must be pretty lightweight. Why don’t people on ships use heavy machine guns with much longer range and start firing when the nogoodniks are too far away to fire back?
    There must be plenty of mercenaries who would do a turn up and down the coast blasting away., if the crews won’t do it.
    Also it would n’t be so difficult to armour plate wheel houses and keep a watch to stop the nocturnal chain climbers who must be very vulnerable .

  8. @DBC Reed

    Many pirates use dhows, as do the fishermen in the area, so just blasting away at anyone who looks suspicious isn’t any good.

  9. @DBC Reed…

    Actually, I’ve wondered exactly the same thing. A heavy machine gun on board a merchant vessel would have a far more stable platform than LMGs used from small boats, and should be far more accurate as well as delivering more ordinance onto the target, and the cost of employing a couple of mercenaries to man said weapon would be a lot less than the cost of a ransom.

    I suppose the problem would be if this caused an “arms war” as each “side” escalated its armaments. Even a small RIB would be capable of carrying RPGs or small man-portable anti-tank missiles, which could lead to merchant ships shooting at anything that moved on the basis of “better to get your retaliation in first”. On balance, I reckon that genuine “Q Ships” would be the best solution, let the pirates make their intentions clear, and then sink them.

    As to being boarded whilst at anchor – merchant vessels are supposed always to have an “anchor watch” – the fact that some of them get boarded tends to suggest that they’re not being posted.

  10. @Eva
    You could run up a flag when any dhow approaches your ship indicating “Keep clear or our armed bastards will shoot”… a burst up in the air,or into the water would probably do.
    If the dhow kept closing it would be time for binoculars and loudhailers,followed by heavy fire,possibly if somebody on the dhow starts firing first.
    I don’t know why I am suggesting all this violent stuff as I’m naturally very cowardly/squeamish.
    At the back of my mind,the disparity between the vessels,suggests possible put-up jobs with both sides sharing the proceeds and a lot of innocent matelots getting shot in the process.( An acquaintance was convicted for robbing a bank messenger on this basis)

  11. DBC,

    Theoretically, on the high seas self defence is possible. The problem is ships need to enter territorial waters and even harbours now and then. Sadly many governments have this rather stupid idea that law abiding citizens carrying guns for their protection is a bad thing. This mentality extends to the crews of merchant ships.

  12. Now blokes in little boats have stopped ,boarded 380,000 ton ship and kidnapped crew. Kidnapped as in Sharron Matthews?I am sure there is some innocent explanation but this looks awfully like a put-up job .

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