forces. They’re not just a “mall
cop,” I guess is the term I used at
the congressional hearing.
Secondly, have some arms on the
ship. What most people don’t understand is that the crew is a revolving door and everyone is coming
and going. A lot of people don’t realize that we aren’t always together
and some of these guys I won’t see
for 10 years on another ship.
By weapons, I mean something
that could reach out more than a pistol … [and] ammunition, of course.
You’d have to have it secured. You’d
have to be declared and bonded
when you come into port.
Some of the crew could be
trained in the use of these weapons. Union schools have [the training] and many of
the maritime schools have it. … It wouldn’t be the
whole crew and it wouldn’t be the wild, wild West,
where everybody is packing a holster. It would be
under the auspices of the captain and then he would
hand out or unlock or give [weapons] to one of the
mates. They would just be an adjunct to the force-protection team.
The other part would be … having a safe room that
has two watertight door separations. It would have to
have ventilation. It would have to have food and water.
Maybe this would be where your gun cabinet would
be, because if they break in and they’re coming in to
get you, you’re really left with nothing.
Passive-aggressive water hoses or barbed wire really
does nothing. It’s made to be what the industry standard has been up until now — just to make yourself
look like a hard target. Now we have to go beyond
[You also need] communication capabilities, because
once you’re in a metal room confined on a ship, you
may not be able to talk to that Navy ship, so you have
to have the frequencies available. You may have to have
an outside antenna available to talk to them. …
Also, we’re requiring hardening of vessels. This is
the fourth facet of [my plan]. Our problem was that
they came up the outside ladder even though there was
a padlock on it. They just shot through it. We’d have
to either take those ladders out or make them like a fire
ladder on an apartment building — something you can
roll down when you need it and pull up. Also, taking a
look at other ways to get up above into the [deck]
house, because when a pirate gets aboard, he’s going to
want to get at the bridge because that’s the nerve center of the ship. …
drill. This is the most important part of the drill.
This is where you point out our foibles, point
out our problems. … This is also where other
people bring their input. … In the incident we
had, many of the things we did, as far as a
safe room or a secondary fallback or taking the
engine down, were discussed at these critiques
from these drills.”
When we first got on [our ship] two years ago, there
were padlocks to everything. Well, padlocks are no real
deterrent to people breaking in. A chief engineer
brought it up in one of ours drills, “Why don’t we get
rid of these locks?” Let’s do it. Let’s start welding, and
so we had inside latches that — unless you blow the
door — you could only open by opening that inside
latch. And we would keep everything locked up except
for one door at all times.
So you were making your own modifications?
PHILLIPS: Oh, yes. All ships are. … Actually, the fallback to the aft steering [during the pirate attack] was
another idea by the chief engineer. He brought it up:
“Why don’t we have a secondary safe room?” The first
safe room we had was the ship’s office, which had two
doors on the outside and only one door on the inside.
… [The pirates] came up the outside and got to the
bridge. That’s another reason why the crew had time to
go to their places.
What do you think needs to be done in the region,
barring Somalia getting a functioning government?
PHILLIPS: That actually was one of my last facets of
this comprehensive plan: The U.S. has to push the
international community into taking care of this.
Somalia hasn’t had a government in 25 years. They’ve
basically been at war for 25 years. There are no
schools, no real jobs, no chance to get ahead. There are
no options to take the right road where you’re going to
come out to a better life.
As the pirates told me, the people on land are
thieves and murderers. The people on water are the
fishermen and pirates. That’s the way it is. Also, like in
our country with the gang situation we have, these
SEAPOWER / AUGUST 2009