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calendar   Tuesday - April 06, 2010

Same Old Same Old Samho

While Pieper got to cover the Rescue At Sea story, I got the less dramatic one. Sunday Somali pirate mooks captured the South Korean oil tanker Samho Dream. [yes, it’s the sam ho’ dream we all have: I want to get rich!]. While a Korean warship is in pursuit, so far nothing has happened. The tanker, chock full of crude, was bound for the USA.

image

MV Samho Dream

A supertanker carrying about £104 million of crude oil from Iraq to the United States is believed to have been hijacked by Somali pirates.

Similar seizures of oil supertankers in the waters off the coast of lawless Somalia have yielded ransoms as high as $5.5 million.

A South Korean navy destroyer was rushing toward the supertanker but its highly volatile cargo prevents crews from carrying guns on board or even lighting cigarettes while on deck.

Really? Has vapor control technology actually gone backwards since WWII? Makes me wonder, since this was an oil tanker in those days:

image


Not even an eighth the displacement of the Samho Dream, but bristling with guns. Cannons, anti-aircraft mounts, machine guns. Funny how they managed to NOT set themselves on fire.

The South Korean-operated 300,000-ton Samho Dream is believed to have been seized Sunday when the South Korean navy received a call from the vessel saying three pirates had boarded it and then lost contact.

At the time, it was about 930 miles southeast of the Gulf of Aden. It has 24 crew - five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos.

A maritime analyst doubted the South Korean warship would launch an assault on the pirates believed to be holding Samho Dream because such action would put the crew at great risk.

So it looks like One Up, One Down. One ship rescued, one ship taken. Business as usual. But I couldn’t help having a couple ideas while looking at the pictures of both these ships. Like ... hmm, wouldn’t the bridge wings on the Dream, sticking way out there into the breeze, make great mounts for some kind of ball turret weapon? Nothing too sophisticated ...

image

(this will do until I can find pics of the ball turret on the Millennium Falcon)




My other idea came from noticing the PT boats being shipped on the Atascosa, the WWII tanker pictured. That, and reading how the Korean tanker was being pursued by the Korean destroyer. Are the Navies out there taking care of their own? If so, then here’s an idea.

Every ship welds on a couple of gun tubs fore, aft, and midships. No guns, just armored tubs. But places where a standard gun, like the quad 20mm Oerlikons pictured (WWII vintage!), could be quickly attached. When your ship goes through the Suez Canal, (or around the Cape of Good Hope, or going west past the southern tip of India, or at whatever points you want,) the passing of which imply that your ship is sailing into pirate waters, the navy that represents the nation that is the destination of your cargo mounts 4 to 6 guns and brings a crew of gunners aboard. All you have to do is feed them and bunk them. When your ship exits the pirate waters, the guns get dismounted and go back to that navy. For added security, if a pair or two of high speed davits were mounted, then your cargo ship could swing aboard a pair of manned modern PT boats, and just carry them along. Pirates come snooping around, launch the boats and engage them. Sink them? No, just disarm them, and attach a homing device so you can follow them back to the mothership. Then torpedo that one. It’s what PT boats are for.

The other upside is that very quickly every ship would have those gun tubs welded on, and like air marshals on jet planes, the pirates couldn’t tell which ships had the real guns, and which were merely using them to store a few shorter lengths of 5” pipe. Especially if most of them did have the real guns, and one ship in four held onto it’s weaponry past the standard disarming points. Just in case some pirates got the smart idea not to attack the ships until they were unarmed. Pretty soon, no pirates. And lots of dead ones. Every cargo ship at sea would be a Q-ship. If somebody could develop a PT boat that fit inside a full size shipping container, then the ruse would be even better. One or two containers lashed to the deck but rigged to the ships cranes would really give those water rats pause. Is there an armed and armored attack boat in there, or not?

Oh well, that’s Drew dreaming up a cheap and effective solution. It’s not like 20mm guns are a dime a dozen throughout the world. Oh wait, they are, aren’t they? Old tech stuff. But more than enough for pirates in fiberglass boats, with 3 times the range of an RPG-7. It would probably save the navies money, and the armed guards on board would cut the insurance cost to the ships. And if your destination nation didn’t have a navy ... well, you could hire our guys for a nominal fee. Sure, but what about International Law?? Ok, put a bit of yellow “Do Not Cross” tape across the doors to the gun tubs, and have each gun mount registered as a naval auxiliary ship all by itself. That way the cargo ship is just carrying the “little ships” for the navy as a favor, but those “ships” themselves would be recognized as military “vessels”. Shades of gray, but legal, and that’s what color you’d paint them too.

And if that’s too nuanced for ya, know that Malaysia now has actual Q-ships.




Updated before I could hit the Publish button:

image

The South Korean navy destroyer Chungmugong Yisunshin, shown here, has caught up with a supertanker hijacked by Somali pirates with a cargo of crude oil worth as much as $170 million ... though it is unlikely to launch an assault on the ship due to the highly volatile nature of the cargo, reports the Associated Press.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/06/2010 at 01:25 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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