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Australia The Military United States Science

Climate Scientists Ask For Help Fighting Somali Pirates 300

thebchuckster writes "Scientists are seeking the help of the Australian and US navies to repel Somali pirates who are threatening one of the world's key climate monitoring programs. They hope to deploy about 20 robotic instruments in a no-go area north of Mauritius. The instruments, which record ocean heat and salinity patterns, are programmed to submerge and eventually resurface to upload their data to satellites."
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Climate Scientists Ask For Help Fighting Somali Pirates

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  • Correlation (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 17, 2011 @05:23PM (#36794862)

    But global warming is caused by a lack of pirates!

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      But global warming is caused by a lack of pirates!

      Ergo we need to deploy sensors near an area of high pirate activity.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Now that the USA is winding down ops in Iraq and Afghanistan there'll be available drone operators who'll need to keep their skills sharp. What better use for Global Hawk and Predator drones and a few Hellfire missiles? Instead of blowing up wedding parties and funerals they could be doing something useful and take out Somali pirates. The unmanned drone optics are more than adequate quality to easily avoid mis-identifying their targets.

  • House the probes in old WW2 mines - armed of course...

    Then just give the big shipping boats GPS coordinates, and let the pirates "find" them if they wish.

    Seems to solve multiple problems as the pirates find more and more of them...

    • by C0R1D4N ( 970153 )
      Or issue letters of mark so any old person who can go hunt em down for fun!
      • Re:Easy solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 17, 2011 @06:13PM (#36795086) Journal
        'Letter of Marque and Reprisal'.

        Given that the pirates are using any old junk to mount their attacks, I'm guessing that there would be no economic incentive to hunt them down under the historical mechanism of condemnation and sale. Some sort of bounty-based alternative, in addition to the cost, would amount to offering to pay anybody who can come up with a few rusty Kalashnikovs and a boat full of dead Somalis. What could possibly go wrong?
        • Given that the pirates are using any old junk to mount their attacks

          This assumption is wrong; under their current business model, they (the warlords) reinvest the ransom into better hardware and manpower- what they lack in style they make up with fast boats, many hands, and *lots* of ammo.

          This piracy thing is in no way a one-time-only gig; look how it goes on and on.

          • They have made some upgrades; but not nearly to the point where condemning and selling off their used gear would make up for the cost of capturing it in the first place... Worse, from the perspective of powers interested in trade security and stability(rather than just getting some blood in the water and reveling in the righteous vengeance), history suggests that low-budget privateers are often little better than pirates themselves and 'respectable' mercenaries get really expensive.
      • Letters of Mark are what you issue to create pirates. The recipient then goes and harasses the shipping of your enemies, and you hope(*) that they'll be treated as prisoners of war if captured, rather than summarily executed or whatever your enemy does to criminals and spies.

        (*) you probably don't care, but you pretend to, to bolster the number of ships willing to take the deal.

  • Seriously, throw an active sonar pinger on it, before it surfaces to send radio data, have it do a few active pings and make sure no one else is around before surfacing, sending the data, and re-submerging.

    You'd probably want to put a little effort into having multiple sensor units pinging at the same time to make it hard for them (the pirates without a lot of tech) to triangulate based on the pulse source.

    You're talking a 5 pound sonar module and a few lines of code, a few thousand dollars, far far less th

  • The real issue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gearloos ( 816828 ) on Sunday July 17, 2011 @05:39PM (#36794946)
    The real issue is in how the global security is executed. When these pirates are caught, it is up to the country of the vessel's home port to pay for extradition and prosecution. You may be surprised but in the majotrity of cases, the pirates are arrested and then days later released as the government of the vessels home country decides not to extradite as they don't want the expense of shipping tham, then housing them in prison. A solution? Well, go back to how we used to deal with pirates. Tried by a captain on ship and walk the plank into the water 300 miles off shore. Done. Problem solved.
    • They didn't generally make pirates walk the plank...

      What they used to do is hang them in a public place off the shore (or just their head). So other pirates will see a bunch of bodies and get scared.

    • I think you might be a little confused there: plank-walking was a highly irregular practice, only indulged in by pirates and similar types on rare occasion. State-sanctioned naval executions were usually hangings.
    • Re:The real issue (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Cowpat ( 788193 ) on Sunday July 17, 2011 @06:26PM (#36795124) Journal

      The Royal Navy used to sail back into port with the pirates still swinging from the yardarm. Icky.

      But seriously, given that we're talking about a handful of people, the expense is trifling for any Western government - the problem is jurisdictional issues. Essentially, many of the European countries doubt that their constitutions would allow them to exercise jurisdiction; others doubt that a case could be proven beyond reasonable doubt; Kenya is fed up of being a dumping ground for sufficient numbers of pirates as actually do make them a financial burden and Somalia has no functioning government to do anything.

      • It's also a rather large area of ocean that needs to be covered which requires quite a few ships. Maybe one aircraft carrier could do it but that's still a big commitment. Something like a modernized PT boat would be pretty effective I imagine.

      • There's also the added complication that the pirates are scaring away foreign fishing trawlers, so now the fish stocks are returning. The pirates may soon turn back to their fishing careers. The problem may be correcting itself without expensive naval intervention.
    • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Sunday July 17, 2011 @06:35PM (#36795162) Journal

      any pirates who would attack scientific intstruments are committing property crime. the death penalty seems a little harsh.

      as for the pirates that attack people, well, somalia doesn't really have a government to speak of.

      and if you think you can 'solve the problem' by intimidating a few of them, you might want to read about what motivates them in the first place. i.e. there is a massive drought in the region right now, millions of people are starving... as i write this.

      if i were in their shoes, and you asked me if i wanted to be a pirate, and maybe eat, i dont know what i would say. you see, i've never been starving to death and watched my whole family die.

      in my humble opinion, instead of starting a nother never ending 'war on piracy', we could instead try to stop the corruption and malfeasance that prevent the somalis from engaging in ordinary business activity. i.e. start enforcing international laws regarding the fisheries off of their coasts.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        So I guess boarding a boat and pillaging it is simply the 'confiscation of non-legal goods in their territory', and as such people shouldn't be put to death for it. Yeah the Russians have a good idea to deal with pirates, kill them at sea. Of course the rest of the western world has a 'catch and release' program. Where the pirates are caught, and dumped back ashore. There's a real reason why that trade land became safer when the Russians got there.

    • The proper way to deal with pirates is to kill them on the spot. No other method works. Jurisdictional issues are a nightmare, so criminal trial is out of the question. No need for needless brutality by sending home their body parts or anything like that; just shoot them and feed them to the sharks. If there are any legal inquiries after the fact, just remember they fired first and the victim ship was doing what was necessary to save the lives of the crew. Nobody needs to hear any differently.

      • That never worked either you realize, right? Pirates still did their work, even after the hanging of Captain Kidd.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by asparagus ( 29121 )

      The real issue is that once upon a time people in Somali could make a living fishing off their shores. Boats passing through the Suez canal dump their waste in international waters, which is roughly defined as "not the red sea or the mediterranean", which the end result of most of the ships dumping their pollutants into the Somali waters. The country has complained to the UN, who won't do anything about the issue unless oil rights are transferred from the Chinese to America as protection money. This has

    • Stop "catching" them.

      We don't "catch" the enemies we hit with airstrikes or artillery nor is there an expectation that we should.

      Blow them out of the water, don't strafe them with small arms.

    • The Russians have a fine solution -- just release them immediately, in the middle of the sea, with no fuel. After all, you certainly don't need a trial not to hold someone. []

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      And as they are walking the plank, they remind you of the fact that their compatriots have several hundred other hostages. Some of whom will be killed if they aren't returned in one piece. I don't know about you, but if I were some little third world country, I wouldn't want the Russians blaming me for getting one of their freighter crews killed in retribution.

      If you can't blow the pirates out of the water right there, before they radio their situation back to their base, you risk hostage deaths. If they j

  • "Oooh, a Somali pirate! I'm scared now! Oh sure, the scientists will pay whatever you ask them! Here, take my leg! Please! So I can be a peg leg like you! Let's see what your Mom has to say about that!"

  • Not just pay them not to attack, but pay them to go and place the bouys for you. Why? Because it gives them money from a non-piracy endeavour, their primary intention being financial gain. It's money they would have otherwise sought through ransom etc, and ulimtately keeps good people out of harms way. Would they hold the bouys to ransom? Well maybe, but you could make sure they are expendable, after all it's the data you want.

    Or just get a Navy vessel to drop off the gear. Get in some target practice on
    • Why? Because it gives them money from a non-piracy endeavour...

      Such as what? It would certainly give them more money to fun piracy-based endeavors, though.

  • Two problems solved.

    (Three if the sharks have lasers.)

  • I wonder if there are any roving spy blimps that could be tasked to spend some time tracking all boats in the area around somalia. Its a big ocean but if you can watch the coast , catch them leaving and track it might work?

    The information could be used to warn others where the pirates are or for the more hawkish amoung us allow nations who have had enough to intercept them.

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