Monthly Archives: March 2010

Going on the Account: All Ashore That’s Going Ashore?

There’s a piece from the NY TIMES today concerning US military aid to the Somali government.  The main thrust of the article is how American forces are offering C2 to the Somali government (or at least what the rest of the world recognizes as the legitimate government), and how the US is closing down a possible haven for Al Qaeda.

What doesn’t get mentioned is the side benefit, the potential end of the Somali pirates.  Presumably, with established order ashore, the ability and motivation for going to sea to take cargo in the sweet trade diminishes.

What will be interesting is to see whether the effort succeeds, and if it does how big an effect it has on piracy off the Horn of Africa.  If there is a new government that starts to administer the shores that somehow doesn’t cramp down on the sweet trade, we could be looking at much bigger issues than a new set of terrorist basing camps…

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Going on the Account: The Fashionable Season

It’s that time of the year, when the weather calms down a little, the waters are more inviting, the monsoon season ends, making it easier to send out the boats when a fat target is sighted…

Yes, it’s time for modern pirates to be making a bit more news.  The end of the monsoon season saw four shootouts, followed by the seizure of the UBT Ocean and all 21 hands aboard her.  Last year, there were 217 seizures off East Africa, a 95% increase over 2008’s numbers.  And with the season this year getting off to an active start, it could be ugly.

For both sides, it appears; there’s word this morning of the FS Nivose seizing eleven suspected pirates, coming just days after the Danish Absalom sank a pirate mothership.

If the pressure is building this high this early in the face of such odds, are we looking at the high water mark of the Modern Age of Piracy?  Could we assume that the number of attacks are going to be at an all-time high right before they burn out?  It’s still early in the season, but this will be something to keep an eye on.

Speaking of season, the New York Armory Show is back again, and this review in the TIMES describes an interesting figure that caught the reviewer’s eye… Frankly, the subject of the piece may have been overdoing it a bit…

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Going on the Account: Part the Two Hundred Twentieth

Part the Two Hundred Twentieth of RAGING GAIL is now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: The Hateful Landlubber and the Landlocked Corsair

Looking for news about pirates turned up this article in the NY TIMES regarding pirates in Puntland going in country to seize trucks for ransom.

What drew my attention, and ultimately the flag, were comments laced through the piece that can be summed up by the statement:  “Now the pirates don’t need ships to do their deeds!”

Give.  Me. Strength…

There’s nothing quite as galling as people demonstrating a lack of understanding regarding one basic concept:  There’s nothing new or unexpected about piracy occurring ashore.

Let’s keep a few things in mind here:

  • Many pirates, in fact, tended to prefer land raids than going out for ships; towns happened to stay in one place, which made planning the assault a lot easier
  • One of the ways Henry Morgan maximized his haul when going on the account was to take a legalistic eye to his letter of marque; because the Crown was entitled to a large share of any booty taken at sea, he made some of his more daring raids ashore, where he could claim that anything he earned there was outside the terms of the agreement and thus all his
  • The parallel development during and on both sides of the Golden Age of Piracy of the highwayman phenomenon cannot be ignored; discounting the tools of the trade (horses instead of ships) and the scale (it’s a lot easier being a sole highwayman than it is a single pirate), there’s a considerable list of similarities that tie the two together
  • And when you think about the connections between the two, if given half a chance, Jesse James would have made a great pirate…

In addition to the above, I’m only now finding out about an act of piracy on Lake Erie, offshore from Toledo that took place back in October.  Not quite the same level as the Bell case from 1864, but sometimes it gets tough to keep a tradition alive.  For the sake of comparison, piracy on the Great lakes now seems to be better entrenched than the Miss America pageant

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Going on the Account: Part the Two Hundred Nineteenth

Part the Two Hundred Nineteenth is now up, and may be read here.

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