Hand-Wringing Over Piracy
The piracy situation off the coast
of Somalia is out of control and
the seafaring nations, including the
United States, are doing nothing of
any consequence to solve the problem except wringing their hands.
[One of] the most recent acts of
piracy was the capture of the supertanker Sirius Star some 450 nautical
miles off the coast [of Kenya].
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm.
[Mike] Mullen’s comment, “I’m
stunned by the range of it,” is not a
very encouraging statement coming
from our top military officer and
indicates a lack of understanding of
the problem by our top government
officials. As of this writing, there are
14 vessels under control of pirates.
U.S. Marine Corps officers carry
the Mameluke Sword, which was
presented to 1st Lt. Presley O’Bannon
… for his actions in the First Barbary
War with the Barbary Coast pirates.
There was a time in our history that
the United States response to the
piracy situation would be to sweep
the pirates from the sea.
Have we lost this resolve as a
nation? Have we surrendered the
After reading the article,
“Piracy on the Rise,” November issue, I was left more confused
than informed. The tone of the
quotes was “poor us, poor souls,
there is nothing we can do.” Our
Fifth Fleet sounds impotent.
Apparently, only the French still
have guts enough to engage the
“mighty” pirates. And our shipping
magnates sound as if they don’t
give a damn. “Every ship for itself”
is their apparent motto. Oh, yes,
also stay out of bad neighborhoods
where pirates dwell!
Has the civilized world regressed to a point where a bunch of
ragtag yahoos can bring interna-
tional shipping to this point?
Instead of bureaucratic hand-wringing and buck passing, some
review of piracy history may be
appropriate at this time.
The elimination of mother ships
and home bases, along with some
public punishment, could bring a
salutatory conclusion to the exploits of 21st century wannabe
Sails to the Rescue
Ifound the article “MSC Ship
Ushers New Age of Sail” in your
November issue very interesting. It
brought back memories of the last
voyage of my U.S. Navy ship Arctic
[an Arctic-class stores ship] from
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to Tokyo Bay.
After losing about one-third of our
turbine blades in Pearl Harbor, we
took a load of food out to Japan at
a greatly reduced speed. We averaged only 5 knots on the trip.
Because of the slow speed, some
of our crew felt that sails would
help us on our return trip. Since
we had an abundance of canvas
onboard, used mainly for hatch
coverings, and several officers who
had prewar experience in sailing,
we wound up rigging large spanker
sails to our foremast and mainmast, as well as two jibs.
We figured they added 2-3 knots
to our speed. On arrival in San
Diego, after a short stop in Pearl
Harbor, we made the front page of
the local papers, with pictures
showing the sails as rigged.
Robert A. Murphy
A Long Time Coming
Iread with much interest your article “LCS Mission Takes Shape.”
In April 1965, President Johnson
sent the Navy to the Dominican
Republic to counter attempts by
Cuba to instigate an armed insurrection. Ships deployed principally
included destroyers and amphibious
ships. One of the tasks assigned was
an attempt to prevent covert infiltration by means of a limited blockade.
The littoral waters of the island
of Hispaniola were divided into
patrol stations called the “
bandstand patrol,” as each station was
identified using the name of a
musical instrument. Unfortunately,
it quickly became apparent that
Gearing-class DDs and amphibs
simply drew too much water to
effectively patrol in the littoral.
Following this deployment, several of the ships’ operations officers
were invited to submit comments
and suggestions. Whatever happened to these submissions is lost
in the administrative tides. In any
event, there was a wide consensus
that the Navy needed a class of
ships more capable of working in
It appears that after almost 45
years, we may have finally designed
and built a ship that can deal with
the more recent incarnations of the
problem seen in 1965.
Carl H. Horst
■ The L- 3 Communications
division that is a major supplier for the command, control,
intelligence, surveillance and
aboard the Coast Guard National Security Cutter
Waesche was listed incorrectly in the December article
“Waesche Powers Up.” L- 3
East Camden, N.J., provides
for the cutter.