Lt. Stephen Decatur with the crew of USS Enterprise on Dec 23, 1803, in a painting by Dennis Malone Carter.
In the early years of this nation, President Thomas Jefferson found himself involved in one of the first conflicts overseas in the First Barbary War.
Jefferson, one of the first true isolationists, was reluctant to deploy forces in foreign engagements. However, faced with the demanding security of our merchant fleet and the growing concerns regarding our fragile economy, Jefferson had no choice but to protect the free flow of commerce and deploy the Navy. Read More
A crew member prepares to board a tanker that was hijacked by pirates in Benin on 24 July 2011. UN Photo
The winds of global piracy have shifted, as attacks by pirates off West Africa now exceed those of their Somali counterparts. The Nigeria-based pirates may not yet inspire Hollywood films, but they have prompted regional governments to take collective action. A June 24–25 summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, brought representatives from the Economic Community of West African States, the Economic Community of Central African States, and the Gulf of Guinea Commission together to draft a code of conduct concerning the prevention of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity. It has been signed by 22 states. Read More
Force, or the threat of force, is an important factor in countering pirate attacks off Somalia.
That unsurprising conclusion can be inferred from the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report for 2011. IMB noted that incidents off Somalia increased in 2011, but the number of successful hijackings decreased from 49 to 28. Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB’s Piracy Reporting Center, credited “pre-emptive naval strikes, the hardening of vessels in line with the best management practices and the deterrent effect of privately contracted armed security personnel” with the drop in successful hijackings.
Vigorous action by international naval forces in the Gulf of Aden and northwest Indian Ocean, weather, and shipboard defensive measures likewise helped reduce attacks year-over-year during the first quarter of 2012. Increasingly, those defensive measures have included armed security teams embarked on merchant vessels; anywhere from 15 to 35 percent of the ships transiting the region now rely on them. And according to industry sources, no ship embarking armed guards has been hijacked to date.