More high drama on high seas as France captures pirate ship

Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 11:14 am
You are operating from some kind of naive inductive reasoning, you know. You proceed from the specific to the general without showing how your specific examples can be considered exemplary of the the entire class. Because some sailors were shanghaied into merchant ships does not constitute evidence that all merchant seamen were shanghaied. Your remarks completely miss the point of what i have been saying, as well. Men who were shanghaied were already frequenting low dives on the waterfront. Those with a valuable skill and a family to support by land were not in those places to begin with. A Royal Navy press gang could seize anyone who was vagrant--they could not seize anyone who was apprenticed, a journeyman to a master, a member of the army or of the militia, and they could not press someone who had a skill by which they could be rated or issued a warrant. A qualified foretopman, therefore, could not be pressed. The worst abuses of the Royal Navy were in taking qualified seamen from ships at sea, alleging that they were deserters, and it reached the point where English vessels avoided the warships of their own nation. The press gangs became so odious in the period of the wars of the French Revolution and of Napoleon that mobs often rioted and attacked RN press gangs.

You see a few specific abuses and extrapolate them to claim they represent the entire experience of men at sea in the 17th and 18th centuries, and offer not the least evidence. Your remarks about Dana refer to man who shipped in the 19th century, when piracy was no longer common at all in American waters (by which i mean the waters off the north and south American continents). Beginning in 1720, the Royal Navy, and the French, made a concerted effort, and a successful one, to extirpate pirates in American and African waters--the Spanish had been proven totally incapable of dealing with the menace.

Dana went to sea in the early 1830s, and his experience was harsh largely because they were rounding the Horn, which is a desperate voyage into the some most dangerous waters in the world. In addition, it was Dana's intent to show just how bad working conditions were for common sailors--unsurprisingly, that is what he succeeded in doing. He might have done the same for cattle drovers, for factory workers--for any number of other professions in which capitalists sweated labor out of men, women and children, for the least money they could get away with paying, and with absolutely no existent legislations to govern their working conditions.

That some people had it bad is not evidence that pirates had it good, the most startlingly ludicrous and stupid contention you seem to be making. A man with a valuable skill such as a cooper, carpenter, foretopman, bosun, sailmaker, rigger--any number of specialized seafaring skills--could command good wages in comparison to his fellows, and separate quarters on shipboard, along with the ability to find another berth if there was anything odious to him in the ship's commander or the other officers. The common sailor, he who rated "ordinary," had no such luxuries (relatively speaking) and only had the opportunity to better himself by jumping ship, and then taking the crap shoot that his next berth would be better.

Apart from citing Dana, which does not cover the time period of the heyday of piracy in the Caribbean, and which was written by a man intent on showing how brutal the conditions were for the common sailor, you have offered no evidence for what you write. You should a singular ignorance of conditions of life at sea, and i suspect that you are equally ignorant of the conditions of life for the working class by land in the 17th and 18th centuries. None of your rambling has offered the least evidence to refute the claim that those who turned to piracy were those who had nothing better to look forward to, those who had nothing to lose. I see no further reason to continue a discussion with someone so woefully uninformed, and so seemingly incapable of addressing the remarks i have made, rather than some personal fanatasy of history.

You have written: "I love it when people try to re-write known history." This certainly does not apply to you, given that you apparently don't know any history.
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old europe
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 11:23 am
georgeob1 wrote:
The new constructs being advocated by Europeans (and domestic critics of the U.S. policy with respect to terrorists) are themselves a radical departure from traditional international law. They make us all vulnerable to the worst criminals.

Oh, now I'm curious.... what "new constructs" are Europeans advocating regarding piracy?
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 11:25 am
You are not able to run warships even small warships and prey on merchantmen many of who was also arm by being unskilled losers.

This almost sentence further reveals your ignorance. Pirate vessels weren't warships, and those pirates who had the temerity to arm vessels as warships were doomed from the day they attempted. Read the story of Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts and of "Blackbeard." As soon as either of them outfitted a large vessel and began cruising in the manner of a warship, frigates were sent after them, and their careers ended suddenly with their deaths. Pirates commonly operated in sloops, or even the small pinnaces, and they relied on being able to snap up unarmed or poorly armed small merchant vessels and them getting away into shallow waters where a man of war could not follow them. Their object was to get food and water, but preferably to get wine and rum, and specie--the stories of vast heaps of silks, jewels, chased gold and silver artifacts are all just that, stories. They are likely based on Henry Morgan's expedition with l'Olonnais to take the proceeds of the Spanish treasure fleet from the Pacific after it had been landed in Panama, and it was a signal failure. They succeeded in getting their hands on some paltry loot after a tremendous loss of life among their followers. No one ever attempted to lead such an expedition again.

Pirates took ships by intimidating them, and if that failed, they laid along side and boarded. They were highly unlikely to attempt a well-armed merchantman, which were preyed upon, if at all, by well-armed privateers or the men of war of enemy nations. It takes precious little skill to hack at a man with a cutlass, and none to put a pistol to his chest and pull the trigger. You can bet that pirate crews were never able to manage the three broadsides in five minutes which was the gold standard of navies of the day, and which few ships even of professional navies managed.

I begin to suspect that your view of this history is conditioned by the single book you have named, and a string of Hollywood movies.
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 11:37 am
george and all :

a consultant to shipping companies gave a 1/2 hour interview on CBC-TV yesterday - quite unusual since usually those subjects don't attract more than a few minutes .

he stated that the problem had been coming for some time , but had been ignored despite advice given to various governments and shipping companies .
it's unfortunate that it is peaking at the same time as the economic crisis around much of the world .

- somali fishermen had complained for many years about foreign trawlers and motherships sucking up any-and-all fish off the coast of somalia ,
but the problem was simply ignored .

-shipping companies were flush with money until the economic crisis hit .
now there are too many ships chasing after reduced cargo loads .
shipping companies are offering cheap shipping rates just to stay in business

-(the same has happenend in the cruiseline business . rates are down substantially from two/three years ago - and more ships are coming online right now - likely depressing the revenues even further) .

-shipping companies are loathe to hire security guards because of increased costs and possible legal implications .

-shipping companies are also concerned that pirates will start to fire an RPG at a ship giving them trouble .
one hit by an RPG will likely sink any of the "rust-buckets" that pass for freighters and tankers nowadays .
paying ransom is much cheaper than loosing the crew , cargo and ship.

-insurance rates would skyrocket even more if just one ship wold be sunk by pirate action - diminishing shipping revenues even more .

see : http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2009/04/13/piracy-shipping-cost.html

Shippers face higher insurance costs as pirates plague Gulf of Aden
Last Updated: Monday, April 13, 2009

Shipping oil across the Gulf of Aden? Don't forget your piracy insurance.

As a ragtag group of gunmen faced off against the U.S. navy near Somalia before a cargo ship captain was freed Sunday, industry-watchers said shipping companies have to pay steeper premiums to cover multimillion-dollar ransoms " or take the long way around African continent in the hope of dodging hijackers.

"The pirates were the only people who had a good year in 2008," said Crispian Cuss, a security consultant with the Dubai-based Olive Group.
The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, is one of the busiest and most dangerous waterways in the world.

As pirates have become more aggressive, the cost of insuring ships has gone up. Some companies are spending more time training their crews, while others are avoiding the area altogether by taking long, costly trips around the Africa's southern tip.

While the coast of Somalia has been a problem for years, it was flagged in May as an area of particular concern by Lloyd's Market Association, and premiums have been rising " at least tenfold, according to some media reports.

from george's post : Perhaps you should give this interesting idea to "the shipping companies". It might be worthwhile to take a look at a globe and estimate the differential distance involved for a trip (say) from the Persian Gulf to Montreal.

-you are right , george !
as the consultant said , the shipping companies are already suffering from much reduced revenues - and any additional costs might put some of them out of business .

-since the area being accessible to the pirates is ever increasing as they get better equipped (just wondering who benefits from suppluing them with ocean-going power boats ??? someone likely making a good profit from it ) ,
controlling the area with navy vessels and aircraft becomes ever more difficult .

-the maritime nations of the world were unwilling to listen to the somalis when they asked for help . so now they are paying many times the price it would have cost to control those foreign trawlers sucking up the fish .

my own comments - some of it repeated :
-overfishing by foreign trawlers is nothing new . iceland and canada used their coastguard and navy vessels to chase , board and bring those trawlers into their ports to face justice .
the somalis had/have no navy to enforce the laws (it would be too late anyway - most of the fish have been sucked up - literally ) .

-foreign fishing boats (mainly from china-korea-taiwan-russia , but also other countries) literally suck up the fish in the north-atlantic and the pacific just outside the territorial boundaries .

-THE ECONOMIST -december 2008 : PLENTY OF FISH ?


One lesson here is that no species should be fished to the point where the ecosystem is unbalanced. That conclusion hardly requires the fish-fed brain of Jeeves. Another is that, to maintain a balance, big “apex” fish may be as important as small. Many fish take years before they are mature enough to spawn: cod, three or four, sturgeon 20, orange roughy 32. And they may be long-lived: cod can survive to 30, if they are lucky, and sturgeon to 100. Kill the fish at the top and you may get an explosion of smaller ones below, gobbling up much more food than would be eaten by a few big fish of the same total weight. And big fish provide more and better-quality fry. Take the big and leave the young, a common principle of fisheries managers eager to rebuild stocks, may therefore be a mistake. If so, it is not their only one.

-many frozen fish sold in american and canadian supermarkets are labelled "packed in china" .
here is what happens :
trawlers off the coast of california , british-columbia and alaska catch the fish (some of them are even american and canadian trawlers) .
the fish transferred to mother-ships for processing . mother-ships sail to china where the fish are packaged and some are re-shipped across the pacific to the U.S. and canada - at least we get to eat or own fish.

-a detailed report on OVERFISHING by UC-DAVIS


-fish being VACUUMED in the pacific


what the REAL solution to the somali/pirate problem is , i don't know .
that's something the politicians of the world and scientists are being paid for to arrive at a solution the world can live with .
GUNBOAT DIPLOMACY is not a long-term solution imo .
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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 11:44 am
@old europe,
old europe wrote:

georgeob1 wrote:
The new constructs being advocated by Europeans (and domestic critics of the U.S. policy with respect to terrorists) are themselves a radical departure from traditional international law. They make us all vulnerable to the worst criminals.

Oh, now I'm curious.... what "new constructs" are Europeans advocating regarding piracy?

International law - going back even to the Romans - made a distinction between war between identifiable states or tribes, and conflicts with pirates or international bandits or guerillas. The history of the development of the rules of warfare in the various Geneva Conventions and other agreements, very clearly was focused on the former - and NOT the latter. Moreover throughout the modern era the navies of Britain, France and Spain consistently treated pirates as entirely outside the protection of law. All of the European powers (Germany included) dealt with resistence movements towards their colonial ventures as non-national guerilla movements meriting no legal protectins whatever -- this in events continuing well into the current era in India, Malaysia, Vietnam, North Africa and other places.

Now that European nations are no longer in the arena, they apear to wish to prevent others still there from fighting and defending themselves as they once did. This was vividly manifest in the universal condemnation of the U.S. treatment of islamist terrorists confined in Guantanamo. It is a truly sappy idea and mode of thought, perhaps appropriate for those focused on serene retirement (with the continuing protection of others), but not for those still engaged in the struggle of life.
old europe
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 12:13 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Now that European nations are no longer in the arena, they apear to wish to prevent others still there from fighting and defending themselves as they once did. This was vividly manifest in the universal condemnation of the U.S. treatment of islamist terrorists confined in Guantanamo. It is a truly sappy idea and mode of thought, perhaps appropriate for those focused on serene retirement (with the continuing protection of others), but not for those still engaged in the struggle of life.

I think you make a mistake when you compare piracy, a crime (usually) committed in international waters and in violation of international law with the treatment of supposed terrorists in Guantanamo.

Europeans, by no means, are trying to prevent others from defending themselves (unless you want to make the silly claim that the invasion of Iraq was a defensive act in the face of an immediate threat of an Iraqi or Iraqi sponsored attack on the United States). The fact that the European Union created separate anti-piracy mission outside of the NATO mission with far less restrictive rules of engagement should be evidence of that. It worth mentioning that the reaction of the United States is absolutely comparable: in January 2009, America created the "Combined Task Force 151", an operation outside of the NATO missions the US had been participating in earlier.

Now, in regard to the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo: I think the accusation is that America had been treating those detainees neither in accordance with international law (which is a big difference to how countries tackle the piracy problem) nor in compliance with the US Constitution. Given that America, after WWII, was one of the countries pushing so strongly for the creation of a more solid body of international law, regulations and treaties and given that America decided to invade Iraq based on the accusation that the country had been violating international conventions, there is ample reason to criticise the United States for, in turn, violating exactly those international conventions.

Moreover, the fact that the status and situation of the Guantanamo detainees has changed from what the Bush administration envisioned is not a consequence of international criticism; it's a consequence of the fact that the Supreme Court agreed with accusations that the treatment of those prisoners violated constitutional principles.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 12:20 pm
@old europe,
Piracy has been historically an "universal jurisdiction crime".
(As far as I remember, George usually opposes universal jurisdiction.)

Canada and The Netherlands, who had to release pirates due to national law, have such laws longer than usually is called a "new construct".

An International Court, similar to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, would be the best IMO. But I know George's opinion about such as well ...

Interestingly, the USA never signed the Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law and therefore-in theory- could even help privateers (see: Korteweg, Joke E.: Kaperbloed en koopmansgeest. ‘Legale zeeroof’ door de eeuwen heen, Amsterdam, 2007)
old europe
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 12:28 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
As far as I know, the approach to what to actually do with captured pirates is quite different between countries, and also between which mission those countries are participating in. European countries participating in the EU Operation Atalanta seem to have settled either on extraditing the pirates to be tried in Kenya (I think this is based on individual agreements between those European countries and Kenya) or on bringing the pirates before national courts at home and trying them under national law (France is doing this at the moment - again as far as I know).

I'm not entirely sure what the United States are doing. America is both participating in the NATO mission and running it's own operation. I think the course of action has been to extradite captured pirates to Kenya, but I might as well be mistaken in that regard.
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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 02:46 pm
I'll concede that there have been and still are large ambiguities about real American intentions with respect to the various international bodies we have had a hand in creating.

It all started with that idiot Woodrow Wilson and his obsession with a "League of Nations" (coupled with his disinterested indifference to the unhappy fates of the various parts of the Ottoman Empire absorbed into the British & French Empires; the awful transformation of the Armistice into a surrender during the Paris negotiations in 1914; and the scorning of Japanese and South Asian interests in eliminating European - and arguably American - colonialism there ).

Later after WWII, Roosevelt was primarily interested in the elimination of the Western European Empires, a goal which he only partly fulfilled, but was sadly all too willing to see the creation of a far worse Soviet Empire , presumably as a necessary step towards a peaceful accomodation with the Soviet Union.

We signed the very ambiguous UN Charter which combined elevated rhetoric about world governance with realpolitik control in the Security Council.

In all of this the American public and tradition was never willing to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of international bodies over our own affairs. That was why we rejected the League of Nations, and that is why we (I hope) will still oppose nonsense like the International Criminal Court; the Law of the Sea and other like bodies of international governance.

Following the ravages of two world wars in the 20th century (which they brought on themselves), the European powers emerged with a profoundly different world view. After WWI the various nationalities of Europe were left in place but the boundaries of nations were redrawn in the attempt to find stability. Following that failure, after WWII whole peoples were moved to create national homogenuity in the again modified boundaries - undoubtedly at great human cost. These and other experiences provided the popular basis among Europeans for the need for supra national governing bodies to end the ravages of unbridled European nationalism.

These, of course, were experiences that Americans never had, and as a result our world view remains profoundly different. While Europeans appear endlessly hopeful about their ability to ultimately perfect the operation of international governing bodies, viewing the effort as good for its own sake, (and very likely also seeing them as a cheap way to tame a potentially unruly United States); Americans are becoming increasingly skeptical about both the potential efficacy and ultimate good intentions of such bodies towards us. (Very few institutions are regarded with more contempt among Americans than the United Nations -- although NATO is becoming a close second.)

I'll readily concede that the Iraqi wars (both of them, including the original Gulf War) were a great strategic error. However, that should not be confused with our original low cost and very effective distruction of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, and the attendant harvesting of many al quaeda operatives there. It was this that led to the prisioners in Guantanamo that caused so much opposition abroad and ultimately here.

Our subsequent efforts at nation-building in Afghanistan are another matter. I think they have little chance of succeeding, and it is sadly ironic to see our new Administration using almost the identical arguments with which the Bush Administration pushed for war in Iraq, now in Afghanistan. We won't get any more help from Europe there than we did in Iraq. I believe we should get out as quickly as possible and let Europe, India, Pakistan and Iran and Saudi Arabia contemplate the consequences. At the same time we should insist on good faith two state negotiations on the part of Israel and provide a finite horizon for our security guarantees with them.

The important strategic issues for the United States now are the maintenance of our economic strength; our relations with China; and preserving our independence of action.
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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 03:04 pm
this discusion about pirates reminds of two dastardly pirates that did much damage to the trade of hamburg and other hanse cities : KLAAS STOERTEBEKER and GOEDEKE MICHEEL .
stoertebeker and seventy of his men were caught and executed in hambuurg on october 20 , 1401 .
it turned out to be more of a festival than an execution . hundreds of citizens lined the streets of hamburg when they were brought before the executioner .


indeed , in hamburg and other german coastal cities , monuments in honour of stoertebeker have now been erected .
he and his men became folkheroes posthumously !


and annually a STORTEBEKER FESTIVAL takes place in the town of marienhave/friesland were many of the pirates settled to enjoy their spoils .


and what did i and my friends growing up in hamburg do for our entertainment ?
of course , we were brave pirates waving the "skull and crossbones" banner !

and even today - particularly at soccer games of F.C. ST. PAULI - the SKULLS AND CROSSBONES is proudly flown !


the motto of the pirates was :


(god's friends and the world's enemies)


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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 03:56 pm
@old europe,
Frankly I see little point in capturing pirates. Blowing them and thier ships out of the water without warning seem more likely to work in stopping this nonsense cool.

Right now it is a high gain and middle risk for the people placing pirates .
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Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 04:56 pm
Lord you one of those people who seem to have no moral problem with trying to re-write history in one manner or another to fit a pet social theory of your very own. This re-writing or at least attempted re-writing is annoying no matter where you find it.

Be it that there was no holocaust or we did not land on the moon or JFK was shot by more then one rifleman or the pirates was poor losers that could not get any other work.

First my re-writer of history a large number of the pirates had very real warships with the not all that hidden backing of governments goings after the very large amount of gold being ship from the new world to the old world in Spanish bottoms and those who did not have some government aid have powerful supporters for the most part.

Queen Elizabeth was a backer of such gentlemen not as the Queen of England but as a “private” person and she was hardly the only one doing so.

I assume you are going to one tell me that Sir Drake and the Golden Hinde for example was not a real warship in every sense of the word or are you going to try telling me that his ship was not a pirate ship but instead being a privateer ship?

If so you would have a problem as for a large percent of the Golden Hinde raiding career England was not openly at war with Spain and also a large number of pirate ships carry papers claiming they was privateer for one government or another.

In any case those young “gentlemen” going out with AK-47s are just the tip of the blade with a great amount of wealth and resources behind them and that had always been the case.

Here is one of your low skill men and his poor achievement against real warships.

In June 1720, Roberts wreaked havok along the Newfoundland coast capturing 26 sloops and 150 fishing boats, as well as destroying sheds and machinery along the shore. Roberts seized an 18 gun galley and traded her for a 28 gun French ship, renaming her the "Royal Fortune". Roberts sailed south and plundered at least a dozen English merchantmen. Roberts is reputed to have tortured and killed French prisoners. In September 1720, Roberts reached the West Indies where he attacked the harbor at Saint Kitts. He seized one ship and burned two others. Roberts sailed out of the harbor only to return the next day, whereby he was driven away by cannon fire. Roberts repaired his ships at Saint Bartholomew, then in October he returned to Saint Kitts to attack. Roberts plundered 15 French and English ships there.

By January, Roberts had added a 32 gun Dutch slaver which he used to trick the inhabitants of Martinique. Roberts sailed the ship past the harbors of Martinique signalling the Frenchmen to visit Saint Lucia, telling them of a profit to be made buying slaves there. Roberts waited for his prey at Saint Lucia and seized and destroyed 14 French ships. The French prisoners were severely tortured and some were killed. The "Fortune" was replaced by an 18 gun brigantine renamed the "Good Fortune". Roberts next captured a French man-of-war which had as one of her passengers the governor of Martinique. The governor was hanged and the ship which sported 52 guns was renamed the "Royal Fortune". Roberts had at this time 3 ships in his fleet, the "Fortune","Good Fortune", and the "Royal Fortune". Roberts had nearly single handedly halted shipping to and from the Spanish Main, having lasted over a year in the Navy infested waters of the Caribbean. At this time he returned across the Atlantic to sell his stolen wares, and to plunder the African coast.

By April 1721, Roberts had become more tyrannical over his crew. On the way to Africa the "Good Fortune" was stolen by Thomas Anstis who had been given command of her. In June, Roberts arrived at Africa where he captured 4 ships keeping one and renaming her the "Ranger". Roberts then sailed to Liberia where he captured the Royal Africa Company's ship the "Onslow". The ship had cargo worth £ 9,000 and it replaced his ship the "Royal Fortune". His next stop was the Ivory Coast where he took at least 6 prizes. January 11th, 1722, Roberts reached Whydah and captured 11 slave ships which were ransomed for 8 pounds of gold dust each. When one of the captains refused to pay, his ship was burned along with it's cargo of 80 slaves. By now he had added another ship, a 32 gun French warship renamed the "Great Ranger". Roberts had become a serious threat to the British trading companies and as such pirate hunters were pursuing him.

On February 5th, a British man-of-war, the "Swallow" captained by Challoner Ogle caught up with Roberts near Cape Lopez in Gabon. Some say Roberts mistook the "Swallow" as a Portuguese trader and closed to fight her. Others say Ogle found the "Royal Fortune" at anchor with most of Roberts' crew drunk or hung over after celebrating the taking of a prize the previous night. And Roberts took the "Royal Fortune" toward the "Swallow" hoping to escape with the help of the wind. In either case once in range Ogle sent a bombardment of cannon fire to the pirates and immediately Roberts' men responded in kind. When the smoke cleared, the crew saw that Bartholomew Roberts was slumped over a cannon and had been killed in the first and only barrage.

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