PSCs vs. Pirates?

Got this message in my Blackwater Tactical Weekly email newletter:


Is it just me or could this pirate issue be fixed fairly quickly? How about one year of professional armed security personnel on every ship making the passage. I know everyone will be screaming how much it will cost; well folks don’t even try to do the math on what it cost to run the USS Bainbridge and the JTF around the gulf responding to radio calls 600 miles away. Of course everyone will want to know what the rules of engagement are; again, there are a lot of smart people out there and this should be answered quickly (if they shoot an RPG at you, you shoot back). For the second year, there will be security on one of every three ships and a large sign on all ships that says this vessel is manned by armed security whether it is or not (kind of like those little signs and stickers people put on their house that says they have a security system but really just paid $5.00 for the sticker).

Eventually this will be just too risky for the pirates to continue the madness, especially if they are not getting money, oh and yes, the diplomatic avenue with nation building must be happening in parallel.

Stay safe.

John Adams

I would have no problem with this. As commenters in a previous post pointed out, insurance companies would balk at ship crews arming themselves, and I can see the point. So why not give policyholders a bit of break if they have professional armed security onboard? That would help offset the cost of hiring them and would save everyone money in the long run.

Well, not the pirates. It could put them out of business.


  1. That would work, but only if they also allow anyone on the open seas to snuff out pirates. This idea of letting them go when caught is ridiculous.

  2. Personally i think we need to put a crew served weapon on the tail of every ship. that must be manned at all times in these waters. a m2 will really slow down anyone trying to board a ship in those waters.

  3. So far, piracy is mostly a commercial problem.

    And private security would provide a commercial solution.

    With history as a guide, if things get worse, it’s bound to happen.

  4. From the contracting/contractor perspective………..there has been a tremendous amount of shop talk on this topic, here in theater. Everything from maritime security as a next contract option, to actually trying a start up operation (depending on the size of our egos and ideas about our capabilities! LOL!).
    Not that a start up isn’t feasible………….it would likely be much harder than some I’ve talked with think it would be. A lot of chit chat over mission form also. Most (myself included) lean towards Chris’ solution of simply staffing and arming the target vessel, relatively easy to do, given the large pool of previous HR, payroll, and logistics, and administrative support experience amongst many security contractors.

    My plan? We only attack successful pirates after they’ve scored! Who wants to capture a bunch of broke @$$ pirates who don’t have any loot to share out? AAAARRRHHHH!!!!

  5. “Who wants to capture a bunch of broke @$$ pirates who don’t have any loot to share out?”

    Capture? Who said anything about “capture”? LOL.

    Anyway, I hear what you’re saying. And I don’t think PSCs would just pop onto ships overnight. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see things move in that direction.

    I agree that simply arming the crew would be the easiest and quickest, but there is also a lot of risk and liability there. Which is why I wonder if pros might not be the way to go.

  6. I guess I should have more specific………..when I said arming the target vessel, I meant with trained, qualified, professional security pesonnel. BTW: I would strongly advise providing for less than lethal response options as well, to give both the appearance and substance of a rational escalating use of force continuum. My reference to all the HR and support functions skills amongst security personnel was to point out a successful maritime start up needn’t be the size and complexity of a Xe, DynCorp, or Triple Canopy.

    You are correct; arming a ship’s crew, or the midnight shift at the local 7-11………giving weapons to untrained, unqualified, and unwilling personnel is not a recipe for success.

  7. Why not hunt with bait?

    Take the most tempting cargo ship a pirate could wish for; load it with pipe-hitting SEALs, Marines, or Blackwater shooters.

    The pirates attack, they all die and are tossed into the ocean, the bait ship continues to troll the coast.

    After a month or so, change it out for different bait, same idea. It would certainly reduce pirate numbers and make the rest highly paranoid.

  8. You guys aren’t thinking straight. Ask yourselves: How many ships traverse pirate infested waters every single day?

    The answer is that it depends, but it averages out to somewhere around 50 every day. And it usually takes more than a day for a ship entering the high risk areas to travel past them. It isn’t unreasonable to say that there are about 200 ships at any one time that are within reach of the pirates.

    So we know that there are about 50 ships entering the danger zone every day. How many attacks are there every day? A little less than one. And they occur in a huge expanse of ocean, which means that it is very unlikely that a warship will be around when an attack goes down.

    Get your head around the scope of the task, everyone.

    Want a military patrol to suppress pirate attacks? Think it is a good idea to catch pirates in the act and shoot them? Better get a whole lot more ships. Besides the fact that a substantial portion of our naval might will be tied down chasing unemployed goat herders with a few AK-47’s in a leaky rowboat equipped with an outboard, you also have to consider the PR aspect. The greatest navy in all of history, forced to chase it’s own tail because of these jokers. Might as well have Obama bow down before the Pirate King. It isn’t like he hasn’t had practice.

    Think it is a good idea to have a Marine fire team on every vessel, ready to shoot pirates coming over the rail? Better have about 300 of those teams, on station and ready to go, because that is how many ships we might have to protect at any one time. How many combat troops is that? How many support troops do we need? How much fuel, food, ammo, vehicles, medical facilities, transport? Looks like we are going to need a couple of land bases to me. Land bases in Somalia. I mean, what is the worse that could go wrong?

    Bram suggests that we have at least one Q-ship wandering around to lure the pirates out so we can shoot them. “Take the most tempting cargo ship a pirate could wish for; load it with pipe-hitting SEALs, Marines, or Blackwater shooters.”

    Good idea, except that just about all cargo ships are simply no-frills steel cans. Load the cargo in, take it across the water, unload it when you get to where the cargo is needed. How do we sexy that up, anyway? Paint “THE LOVE BOAT” on the side? Put the Blackwater death specialists in bikinis?

    The only way to put a big dent in piracy is to land troops to shoot anyone carrying a weapon, burn any vessels that could be used for piracy, and hang anyone found with loot they got from ransoming a merchant vessel. Won’t the video of Marines shooting starving fishermen and rounding up women and children look great on YouTube?

    The pirates hold people and property for ransom. Every country that can do some good is only going to sign off on an ineffectual circle jerk until the pirates start to get off on slaughtering innocent people. If that never happens, nothing will ever happen to stop this little distraction.


  9. Don’t staff each ship.

    The Security company has a few motherships with helicopters in the area.

    If a company wants a security crew, they call for one, and the crew is boarded via chopper. Once they ship is out of the area, the helicopter retrieves them.

    The security crew never enters some kleptocrat’s port with weapons, and certainly not some enabler country with an arrest warrant for them.

    If an attack is in progress, charge several times your normal rate …

  10. Oh, and I agree with Jame’s comment.

    Until you burn out the nest, swatting individual hornets is just futile.

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