Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pirates? Atsa nice. What's fer lunch?

Fixer said a coupla days ago that he might join the Kriegsmarine, the German navy. After seeing the picture (above) and reading the article (below), I'm wonderin' if the Italian navy can use a superannuated A-gunner.

Actually a pretty good article on the Somalian piracy problem, but I'll skip that part and go right to the stuff I like.

ON THE ARABIAN SEA — Rear Adm. Giovanni Gumiero is going on a pirate hunt.

From the deck of an Italian destroyer cruising the pirate-infested waters off Somalia’s coast, he has all the modern tools at his fingertips — radar, sonar, infrared cameras, helicopters, a cannon that can sink a ship 10 miles away — to take on a centuries-old problem that harks back to the days of schooners and eye patches.

“Our presence will deter them,” the admiral said confidently.

“Our presence will deter them”. Yeah, like that'll work. And what's an effin' Admiral doin' on a tin can anyway?

The pirates are totally outgunned. They continue to cruise around in fiberglass skiffs with assault rifles and at best a few rocket-propelled grenades. One Italian officer said that going after them in a 485-foot-long destroyer, bristling with surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes, was like “going after someone on a bicycle with a truck.”

Oughta be a piece o' cake. I've seen Italian drivers at work in Naples! One hand out the window speaking to the other drivers, the other hand on the horn. I think running over a bicyclist would go largely unnoticed.

Then there is the nettlesome question of what to do with the pirates. Italian officers on pirate patrol seemed uncomfortable at the thought of actually capturing a real live pirate. There is not even a brig or place to hold the pirates on the destroyer.

The Italians clearly have the resources. Out on the front lines, or front waves, beefy Italian marines prowl the decks with machine guns. Radar screens blip and beep. Sailors make announcements over the destroyer’s radio, telling nearby cargo ships to put out an S O S with their position as soon as they spot any pirates.

The Italians said that, deep down, pirates were creatures of the sea, no matter how many navy ships were hot on their tail. “When the sea is calm, the moon is bright, the weather is good, it’s easy to see how the pirates are encouraged,” said Enrico Vignola, a lieutenant on the ship.

For visitors on board, lunchtime was the highlight. The officers summoned up from the oily bowels of the destroyer a banquet of homemade pasta, marinated eggplant sliced paper thin, prosciutto-wrapped dates and tiramisu, finished off with cool glasses of spumante.

It seems that when Italians hunt for pirates, they hunt in style.

I got a better idea now of why an Admiral is on a small ship like that. Lemme see, a pretty machine gunner, good food, a romantic mariner's view of piracy, and no real desire to catch a pirate because there's no place to put him. Just a pleasant cruise in the warm African sun. Yep, that needs an Admiral all right.

One thing puzzles me a little: I never heard of a naval vessel with no brig before. I've been in two US Navy ships, and with about a thousand Marines embarked in each, those tubs needed a brig! That's where they kept the officers' whiskey safe from the enlisted men.

As any enlisted man can tell you, there's nothing tastier than stolen officers' whiskey!

Kinda Sorta Related Perhaps Of Interest To Some Update:

From the 'Budget Travel'(?) section of the EssEffChron. Has to do with the threat to cruise ships.

1 comment:

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