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calendar   Tuesday - May 10, 2011

Armchair Warriors

Human Events sends me an email telling me all about the new Guns & Patriots column.

Hey great. Cool. Fine. I’m always up for a quick read on 2A stuff and stories about various gunny goodness.

This one is a bit of a daydream though. What’s the best gun for killing Somali Pirates?”

The scourge of pirates off the coast of Africa is a problem as old as the United States.  For historical context, ‚”…to the shores of Tripoli…” in the Marines’ Hymn specifically refers to the Barbary Wars in which the USA went to war against the Barbary pirates off the coast of North Africa.

It is my assertion that the way to end the piracy is to end the pirates themselves.  When the cost of doing business becomes too high, the smarter of the pirates will find some new trade in which to engage.  The less intellectually gifted will feed the fish.

Understand that I do not believe there is a need to send in the Marines to handle this problem, though they could certainly address the issue with their usual panache.  Rather, if the shipping companies merely employed small teams of properly armed security contractors, the issue would sort itself out.

So, if you were putting together a security team to guard a ship moving through the area, with what weapons would to equip them?

So the author feels that his pick of a selection of small arms will do the job. And in truth they would be a whole lot better than nothing. But I think he didn’t quite make the historical connection, even though he tried to put things into a historical context.

This is what we used to defeat the Barbary Pirates:

image
Ok, this is actually a British 32 pounder, but ours looked quite similar

Against a slow and large wooden ship at fairly short distances, a 32 pound iron ball flying at the speed of sound is quite effective. However it rather pales against fiberglass speedboats jumping about in the waves. And it doesn’t really have the range; by 400 meters the round iron ball is pretty much spent in terms of velocity.

So, while the above article does select a .50 BMG sniper rifle, even that is only going to be minimally effective against a small boat at distances over a mile. And that’s the crux of my counter-post: when dealing with pirates, your target is not the pirates themselves, but their ships and boats. And the only idea that makes sense is to be able to sink them before they can get close enough to shoot their RPGs at you. That means you have to take them out at a range of at least 2 miles. And to do that on the cheap - because pirates simply aren’t worth any multi-million dollar weapon system investment, there’s only really one answer:

image

You betcha. A good old 40mm Bofors dual mount. It’s the classic Anti Aircraft gun from WWII, but they can shoot across the waves just as well as they can shoot up in the air. The 40mm is about as tiny as a naval cannon can get: it’s a 2 pounder. But a dual mount like the one pictured can put 8 or more of those 2lb shells down range in just a couple seconds, and with proximity fuses close enough will get the job done. 1 or 2 near hits will shred a speedboat full of pirates, and a dozen direct hits will sink any dhow sized mothership they may be using.

You’d want to modernize the mounting a bit to allow for a downward shooting angle for close in fighting. And you’d want to modularize the whole thing, so that merchant ships would only have to weld on one or two mounts per side, and they’d stop in at South Africa, the Suez Canal, and the southern tip of India to pick up guns and Navy crews while they transit those dangerous waters, then drop them off at those points as they leave them. 8 or 12 inch and a half bolts would hold them on just fine. Probably only take 20 minutes, 3 guys, an air wrench and a light crane to mount or dismount. That way only the gun mounts are “military”, and the rest of the ship is “civilian”, so they can get around those old laws against armed merchantmen. The “rent” for the sailors doing gun crew duty would be 3 hots and a cot. Plus ammo used I guess. This would cost tens of billions less than steaming dozens of capital ships back and forth in the Indian Ocean. Everybody knows how to use a Bofors. There are tens of thousands of them rattling around the world; the gun has been popular for more than 70 years and is or has been used by just about every nation with ships. It’s got a 5 mile horizontal range, which means it ought to be able to chew any pirate speedboat or mothership to splinters long before the pirates could get within RPG range. I suppose you could also issue the Navy guys some small arms, just in case.

It would work. It would be very cost effective. Pretty soon you’d see these AA mounts on the sides of all merchant ships and ocean liners, and somebody would quickly figure out how to build dummy guns for the look of it. The locations used to mount and dismount could change regularly or as needed as the pirate threat moves around. And you could cut down the in-theater capital ships by 80%, though you’d want to move some of them to the border areas to handle wiseguy pirates who’d think the new safe places to attack would be just past the dismount areas.

Pretty quickly there wouldn’t be any more pirates. Any little boat that closes with 2 miles of a big merchant ship had better identify itself, otherwise it’s open season with no paperwork or Command approval necessary.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/10/2011 at 12:18 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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