Pirates are Real

February 22, 2011

A response to the morning news…

I had been dating DH for about a year and we had recently become engaged. We hadn’t set a date yet because we didn’t know what his schedule would be for the rest of the year. We wanted to schedule the wedding toward the first part of his shore leave, giving us plenty of time to settle into a house, etc., and enjoy being married before he shipped out again.

One of his ships was being decommissioned and he was selected to be part of her final crew as she went to the scrap yard. At this time this could be done in foreign ports but I believe today, environmental regulations make it difficult for U.S. flagged vessels to be disposed of in this way. This assignment was good for his young career. It would mean over 4 months at sea with another month of travel. It would be the longest we had been apart at the time, including no communication to speak of.

I remember DH told me about how they strip the ship down to bare essentials. Everything of value taken off and only the minimal supplies for the final voyage were stored. Even the Captain’s firearm was signed-off the ship. I’m not sure what I previously thought about this–did I assume there were weapons on board, enough for everyone, or did I think why do you need weapons, and is DH trained to use them? There was only one firearm on board, for the captain, kept in his safe. I guess in U.S. waters weapons were not considered necessary. And DH qualified as marksman at the academy, so yes, he was trained.

His response to me was laced with his typical nonchalant humor. “Oh, don’t worry. We’ll only encounter pirates in [one particular spot] and even if they did try to take us on, we have the water cannons that shoot 125 p.s.i. Blow a hole right through them. Besides, they don’t usually take on ships of our size.” (Unfortunately, that’s not the same today. Ships of any size and cargo–including passenger cruise ships–are fair game.)

A few years later I read a book–and I believe I have found the book: Jolly Roger with an Uzi: The Rise and Threat of Modern Piracy by Gottshalk, Flanagan, Kahn, and Larochelle (Feb. 2000). It is apparently a very rare book to come by these days (1 available new copy sells for $340.35!). For more information on the book, see http://www.amazon.com/Jolly-Roger-Uzi-Threat-Modern/dp/1557503281/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298389104&sr=1-13.

Pirates are not cute and cuddly, though probably just as stinky, as Captain Jack.

I’ve said before that port security is my main concern as far as DH is involved. Many, many asked me how I felt about the attack on the Maersk Alabama. I’m just relieved DH does not ply those waters. It has been a long time since he has sailed international. BTW, another USMMA graduate was in the engine department of the Alabama at the time of the high-jacking.

I woke up this morning to see a news article about four confirmed killed aboard their yacht, the Quest, by Somalian pirates. This is truly a tragedy. I also had no idea the magnitude of modern-day piracy. The numbers of hostages and vessels high-jacked is astounding. My heart goes out to their friends and families. Below is the report from Fox News.


Thanks to DH for technical editing of this post.



  1. […] When T1 related this to me (after rolling my eyes at the inaccurate use of “creep out”) I said, “Well, she’s right. Technology is better and they’d have a better chance today. But it is not the equipment they have to worry about, it is the pirates.” […]

  2. […] consequences, that all combined to create this problem. Most Americans didn’t realize piracy was alive and well until the Maersk Alabama and the hijacking of the American couple. What will […]

  3. […] I’ve posted before about pirates, when I first learned the still exist today and how I reacted to recent pirate attacks. See Pirates Are Real. […]

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