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back to article Dutch send submarine to fight Somali pirates

International naval forces battling piracy in the lawless seas off the Horn of Africa are to be joined for the first time by a submarine. A single Dutch Walrus-class boat will operate in the area from September to November this year as part of NATO's Operation Ocean Shield taskforce. HNLMS Dolfijn leaving Portsmouth. Credit: …

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Happy

Walrus Class :)

Is that the next level up from turtle class? and Pollock class

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No.

Next one up is bukkit class.

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Pirate

c'mon

Someone needs to grow a pair in dealing with these idiots. Submarine? Great, assuming you're prepared to torpedo the f***ers! Just listening? WTF?

Clearly, some shipping companies are getting the idea, judging by the report of pirates being repelled by an armed security team.

Icon, obviously.

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Pint

we all live

in a walrus submarine

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Why not sink them?

The historical response to pirates was to blow them out of the water. Where that didn't prove a sufficient deterrent, naval vessels would bombard their bases.

Most of the pirate vessels seem to be clapped-out fishing boats armed with RPGs and AK47s. I should have thought it was within the capability of a modern naval vessel to sink them. When I read about the submarine I imagined it might be there to torpedo some pirates, but it seems to be there just to listen.

These days the preferred method seems to be to send a rubber boat full of marines over to the pirate ship, where they throw the pirates' weapons into the sea and send them home with a severe telling-off.

I can't help thinking this may take some time to work.

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Megaphone

Why not sink them...Naaa...

...just surface underneath them. That'll scare the shit out of them. As soon as the sub breaks the surface, get on the loud speaker and tell them to "GET YOUR BOAT OFF OUR SUB!"

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Thumb Down

The problem here...

... How do you tell the actual fishing boats from the ones with the pirates on them until you board them?

And how do you know, even if you are sure that there are pirates on board, that the crew actually sailing the vessel arent being forcibly made to sail the fishing boat for the pirates. A gun in the face is a very good incentive to do what your told.

Will you be the one that feeds the family of the fisherman taken out just because he happened to be mistaken for a pirate ship?

And dont forget, in the majority of cases where these pirates tend to get caught by the international navies, theyve usually thrown there weapons overboard and are pretending to be fishermen. Can you automatically tell the difference between a true somali fisherman and a somali pretending to be a fisherman? I certainly couldnt!

So yes whilst i would like to see some stronger action too, i can understand why at present there isnt. The West (for once) is being careful - kill one fisherman that feeds his family and you risk forcing his family into crime, piracy and other forms of extremism...

As they say in Afghanistan, accidently kill one man, create 5 more militants...

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re: The problem here...

@Iglethal Pretty unanswerable, actually. I unreservedly withdraw my "blow them out of the water" suggestion.

I'm less happy about the relativism of the posts that say "you have to excuse the pirates because we've stolen their fish", or whatever. I don't suppose the merchant ships that are attacked do much fishing. It's a bit like my stealing your car because somebody nicked my wallet.

@AC (That's a lovely t-shirt, thank you) clearly knows much more about this than I ever will, but I'm bemused by his comment that "We see the pirates not as the enemy but pretty much as another seafarer". It's true as far as it goes, but it ovelooks the difference in intent: yours to take a ship to its destination, his to hijack it by force. How about "We see the 9/11 terrorists as pretty much fellow aviation enthusiasts"?

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Grenade

concealed guns

Equip a few small converted merchant ships with 2 - 3 inch naval guns and have a few dozen well trained and equipped marines on board. Create bogus shipping reports which will be viewed by the pirates to lure them in. When the pirates open up, the cover on the guns is removed and if the pirates don't surrender immediately, blow them out of the water. Result: fewer and more scared pirates, problem solved. Difficulty is that spending a couple of million quid on a vessel doesn't do nearly as much for advancing a promising naval career as commanding vessels costing billions bristling with high tech weaponry unlikely ever to be used in anger.

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a non-lethal solution

Stick a boat on top of the sub as a decoy and when the pirates board it force them to watch Dutch TV. They will keep well away after a few episodes of 'Ik hou mijn Nederlands' and 'postcode lottery'!

Ross

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Surrender?

For what? You going to keep them as pets? Grow a pair.

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Anonymous Coward

slightly more-lethal solution

Make them watch 'Ushi en Van Dijk', then hand them a packet of cyanide pills.

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Happy

Anti-Piracy Measures

Finally, anti-piracy measures I can fully support.

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FAIL

An apt class name

Walruses are fierce when provoked. They're pretty nippy under water[1], they can sustain 4 mph for long times, and have a top speed of 21 mph. However they're not that fast on land. A bit like diesel-electric submarines, really.

[1] http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/walrus/adapaqwal.html

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Anonymous Coward

Aircraft Carrier

Why doesn't the US station an aircraft carrier in the region - any ship in distress can call on them to launch fast jets who can then destroy the pirates. Too expensive to station an aircraft carrier there or are they scared they'll be boarded by the pirates ?

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Coat

Not so formidable

During one of those huge NATO exercises in the Atlantic a couple of years ago, one of our walrus submarines sank not only a nimitz class carrier, but one of the escorting cruisers and one SSN. NATO is just sending their varsity, that's why there's no carrier.

Mines the one with the periscope sticking out...

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Troll

Nuke subs

Given the RN's pitiful history against lightly armed small boats (HMS Cornwall vs Iranian Revolutionary Guards, 2007) then it's probably a good job that we're not sending anything with a nuclear reactor down there as the Somalis would probably nick it.

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Grenade

My Prediction

The pirates will hijack this submarine.

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Happy

Stealth.....

Not very stealthy when it is painted orange. Oh, and towing a caravan

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Grenade

Q Ships

At the moment piracy is a reasonably safe and profitable business. This needs to change.

Used during WW1 against U Boats, Q Ships were armed trawlers and coasters crewed by Navy personnel. U Boat commanders didn't like expending their limited supply of expensive torpedoes against small, low value, targets, so they would surface to sink them with their deck gun.

As soon as they did, the "Q" ship's sides would drop down and she would open fire on the unsuspecting sub.

A similar approach would probably work against the Somali pirates. It wouldn't even need the ships to be converted as the Pirates usually pack only small arms and RPGs. Simply crew random merchant ships with heavily armed bastards and wait for the pirates.

If the pirates *do* attack, then avail them of a suitably messy object lesson, ensuring one or two are left alive to convey their splattered comrades back to the shore / mothership to drive the "piracy has its risks" message home.

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Happy

But why name the clasee

after a style of facial hair common in 70's p0rn films?

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Trouble is...

Whilst we're playing the softly softly, aren't we civilized game, these pirates are going about doing pretty much whatever they like, kidnapping innocent travellers with seemingly very little risk.

I'm sure a few torpedoed boats and body bags left to wash back up on the shore would be a far better deterrent.

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Grenade

Re: Trouble is...

(Nice technical article by Lewis, by the way. Much better than the apocalyptic warnings about Lib Dems, but anyway...)

"I'm sure a few torpedoed boats and body bags left to wash back up on the shore would be a far better deterrent."

I'm sure that nice people don't immediately reach for RPGs and AKs when initially placed in a shitty situation, but beyond the bravado we're talking about a region with no effective governance, which means that numerous set of corporate bastards and organised criminals have been able to defecate on the livelihoods of the locals, and there's been absolutely no-one for them to turn to. And the outside world doesn't give a shit about it until someone hijacks an oil tanker, and then they only give a shit about the oil.

Now you should be able to see how even reasonable people can end up doing nasty stuff if they have no other option: the inconvenient truth that lurks behind superficial "goodies vs. baddies" news stories that the media love so much. Ask again whether a show of force is any deterrent to people who probably have no other realistic choices.

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FAIL

You're aware of why the Somalis have turned to piracy then?

Where you see strong countries using their military might against weaker countries, you can be sure in 99% of the cases it's to enforce and protect economic access.

In this case, the "international community" has been tacitly backing illegal fishing in Somali waters by its fishing fleets, whilst using the opportunity presented by the lack of a stable government to dump (some report it as) nuclear waste within its waters.

Given that this has driven the local fishermen out of business, it is surprising that they've turned to a new catch?

In the meantime, of course, rather than addressing the root injustice, it's far more convenient to cement the economic pilfering with standard demonisation and misrepresentation.

The reason they're not, yet, just sinking ships at will is because it doesn't do to raise *too* much attention when the gains are not yet outweighed by the losses.

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Coat

Q Ships

Mines the one with the false superstructure in the pocket

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Happy

And we thought you were just glad to see us..

that is all

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Grenade

Send for the Koreans

North that is. They seem to have the inclination to use submarines in the way they were intended.

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two way?

Excellent. Will they also arrest or confront ships from other countries that are dumping toxic waste in Somali waters? Or fishing illegally? Or help the Somalis in any way?

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Anonymous Coward

Not the Royal Navy?

Of course not. They're the Koninklijke Marine. No Royal Navy can top that. ;-)

Though it would perhaps be nice if we figured a way to improve on ye olde dieseleccy sub. What about fuel cells and stirling engines? Though then the new detector would be looking for heat signatures or something. Still, plenty coolant all around.

No idea if ELINT is going to go do much good here. It just sounds like next NATO'll claim the pirates are on the internet and using facebook and twitter to execute their nefarious plans. Like those terrists do in their hidey holes in the mountains in the desert. Well, send in the RIAA and MPAA to sort them out. Would be the first time they tried anything useful.

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They do exist

There are impoved diesel-leccy subs. German Class 212A and 214, running on diesel/electric (classical) plus a high-powered Hydrogen/Oxygen fuel cell. Current record for fully submerged operation (all data according to Wikipedia) without snorkeling two weeks, surface speed 12 knots, submerged speed 20 knots, displacement 1830 tons. Currently in service in Germany (4), Italy(2), Greece(4), South Korea(3), Portugal(2).

Problem for pirate-catching is the same (apparently) as with the Walrus: they're _only_ equipped with torpedoes, i.e. apparently no deck gun any more. Which makes attacking a small boat/trawler a bit problematic.

Bye

Markus

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re: Aircraft carrier

Aircraft carriers are rather extremely expensive and the 'rapid' response from their jets would likely still be far too slow to be of much help of a merchantship under attack.

With any luck, the sub will be able to locate pirates and send warships to intercept them before they attack any merchant vessels.

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I Recall A Sci-Fi...

...short story in which one out of 10 ships was a disguised warship.

That was enough to make robbing ships unprofitable.

Not just sinking the pirates and shelling their bases is a bit weak-kneed, but then we are supposed to be the non-bloodthirsty ones.

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There's Only One Koninklijke Marine

... who managed to sail right into London and burn quite a few royal navel ships. Sorry, I mean "royal navy".

Recently I saw a nice little frigate lying next to HMS ToyCarrier in Portsmouth:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HNLMS_De_Ruyter_(F804)

Salute to Admiral deRuyter (and to the Brits who allowed them into Gunnery Wharf :-))

PS: Tip to navel intelligence: Check Portsmouth harbour. Those bloodily efficient Hollanders might have "lost" some MK48s which they can remotely activate to blow a little hole into HMS ToyCarrier1 and HMS ToyCarrier2

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Anonymous Coward

'Gritty Nutella' sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... how Dutch

Admiral de Ruyter? You mean the ship isn't named after the popular brand of hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles)?

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Coat

Using our technology

Knew we shouldn't of let them get hold of those Rolls Royce engines!

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No, for the man buring down the Royal Navy in London

http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michiel_de_Ruyter

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Pirate

"managed to evade their pursuers by use of non-deadly means"

Would that mean "all ahead flank" "evasive maneuvers" "aye-aye, captain?"

I would rather hear something akin to "give me ramming speed" or "all batteries, open fire".

I say, bring USS Iowa, and make 11 tons of hurt per broadside.

Now this would be a 21-gun salute pirates wouldn´t forget. In fact, just a 9-gun salute is something to behold by itself.

(I don´t even know if it is possible to fire all 9 16-inchers and all the 12 5-inchers at once trained on the same target, but that would be NICE)

On the other hand, concealed guns is not something new. WWII had it against U-boats, if I am not mistaken...

By the way, I enjoy killing flies with large-bore cannons. Overkill is fun.

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Anonymous Coward

Simple pirate solution

Shoot to kill.

The only thing that will stem the tide is a brutal response.

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Pirate

Torpedoes

I suspect the sub has a piece of artillery.

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Happy

Classic

"They don't like being the Royal Netherlands Navy. But there's only one Royal Navy, and they're not it"

How long have you been waiting to use that one Lewis?

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Pirate

"The scope for open-ocean war against fully equipped enemies"

But the pirates aren't fully equipped enemies. This sub could probably sink their boats by surfacing under them.

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Grenade

@ everyone who's complaining about lack of armed response

But don't you know it's against the code of human rights to hurt other people? They'd have to capture them - without injury - and hold them in a tax-paid prison, hire them a lawyer, feed and clothe them, and then have a trial to determine their guilt. There would be a media frenzy about the military using *force* against somebody. Good heavens, shooting a pirate? How can you condone such behaviour! Won't somebody think of the children?!

Personally, if the military won't do more than watch and listen, I'm with the whole concept of mercenaries onboard the ships.

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Why not? I'll tell you why not

Why not just have the US send jets, someone asked. Read on.

The merchant shipping in the area can in no way be trusted to tell pirates from fishermen (which, to be fair, is bloody hard to do unless they actually open fire or you get close enough to board them - the fishermen these days have now started carrying weapons, to protect themselves from pirates). They often confuse the two, and given that there is no way Freddie Fastjet can do an effective identification whilst screaming by at warp four, this would effectively lead to the murder of innocent fishermen by US forces in international waters. Which is really not very nice.

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Stop

That's a lovely t-shirt, thank you

Clearly the posters above should stick to IT, if that's what they actually do (and I'm getting more and more the impression that this blog [sic] is by and large frequented by call centre drones and store clerks rather than proper ITers, but anyway).

It might have occurred to you that if things were just as easy, just as black and white as in Hollywood and video games, then this "problem" would not exist.

A very few precisions:

* The fire power, commitment, and (to a lesser degree) fighting skills of the pirates are not to be underestimated.

* In the event of an exchange of fire, the ship's own guard force poses as much if not more of a risk than the pirates themselves.

* In real life the use of force, and especially lethal force, has consequences (financial, legal, ethical, logistical, etc.) This is not a Playstation game.

* Unwanted attention would be attracted. In many cases, the reasons for foreign ships being in the area are much less than clear (let alone legitimate).

* From the ship's crew point of view, in the event of a boarding the situation in East Africa is a lot less traumatic than the public are led to believe. Both the crew and the pirates are well briefed as to what to do and how to behave, so while not 100% safe, once boarded the situation need not be overly stressful for the crew (the ship's owner and undersigners, on the other hand...) Note that this point does not apply in West Africa, where violence towards a compliant crew can be expected at any time even after a vessel has been taken over.

* We, as in the people who sail there, know, understand, and assume the risks willingly. I can't speak for those who work for non-European companies, but none of us are forced to operate in piracy risk areas if we feel uncomfortable with the idea. We see the pirates not as the enemy but pretty much as another seafarer. Albeit one we strive to stay well clear of, as we have a well-publicised fundamental conflict of economic interests.

I seem to remember some time ago Mr. Page had done a piece or two about the reasons for the increased piracy (and increased reporting thereof) in East Africa, those were fairly good reading as I recall.

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Coat

Walrus-class submarines

I thought that was Jamie Hyneman on Myth Busters?

Seriously though, it sounds like a great time for some clandestine torpedo testing. How do you say "Damn, that pirate ship done blowed up good!" in Dutch?

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Pirate

Ships should paint whales on the sides of hulls

That way the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society can get their two cents into going after the pirates. That would make for better entertainment than what's on TV now.

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WTF?

I can't help remembering...

Last year a Canadian frigate was sent over and they actually caught some of the pirates in the act. So what did they do? They disarmed the pirates and let them go! I'm still shaking my head in wonderment over that story. A speeder on the road gets treated more harshly than that. Now the Dutch navy will be .... Listening! That's got to be a big discouragement to those pirates.

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Pirate

Hey, works for me!

I have no problem with using a sub close in to the coast to intercept pirate communications and then feed that out to the surface fleet. That means the surface ships can go track down the pirates better.

But by all means, let's stop coddling these pirates. NATO's standing order should be to inspect all suspicious vessels. If they don't heave to for inspection, then by all means open fire.

Pirate icon--because pirates are only cool in movies. In real life, they're a menace to decent people!!

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Anonymous Coward

In Other News

Merkins have invented a new way to electrocute their SpecOps troops:

http://www.golem.de/1006/76123.html

"Sir, nobody told us how to determine the voltage of a power line. Seargent Dullman needed to recharge his nintendo game and that's when he got burned to three feet length. The stink was horrible."

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Quiet subs.

While it's true the Diesel / Electric are quiet on electrics, Nuclear ones are as quiet and also don't suffer from being god-awfully noisy for long, enforced periods.

There are only three reasons for using D/E boats as opposed to nuclear:

1) You can't afford SSNs.

2) You've got your head up your arse when it comes to all fings wot are noocooluh.

3) You're the sort of unreliable craphole that would get the living shite kicked out of it if anyone else though it stood an outside chance of getting its paws on nuclear tech.

In this case we can rule out 3, so which of 1 or 2 is it?

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