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April 11, 2009
Weather, Risk, and MitigationBy Greyhawk
Another excellent point from Eagle1: "You may note that part about "currents, prevailing winds, sea state." As I have noted, when the winds in the Gulf of Aden or off the eastern seaboard of Somalia are 10 knots or below, the pirates are more active and more successful in their attacks."
He addresses other known factors that indicate increased risk (see here too). Apparently pirates take advantage of conditions that reduce their risk (and increase their chances of success).
Therein lies frustration: these factors aren't entirely capricious or unpredictable. While imperfect, weather forecasting and more immediate threat detection - along with the ability to communicate same - has certainly reached a point where aircraft without de-icing capability can compensate with planning and successfully avoid flying into areas of extreme threat. On a larger scale, cities in coastal areas with well-laid plans for hurricane response can execute those plans based on reasonably accurate predictions of track when one develops. Obviously there are degrees of uncertainty involved, but preparation and response must be adequate for the risk. Still, planes crash killing dozens and cities flood stranding thousands at a frequency that (while low) is still excessive given our knowledge of threat and ability to mitigate risk. (And don't get me started on tornadoes...)
But from shipping to city planning to airline schedules to personal security the common factor in reluctance to respond appropriately to threat is cost - not capability.
Lets assume then that frequency of occurrence of "pirate-favorable" weather is high enough (at least seasonally if not year round) that avoiding transit altogether (or even delaying) in those periods is cost-prohibitive, both to the shipper and the recipient of goods. Further, that military naval presence is insufficient (again due to cost) to permit escort or ensure timely response. These assumptions establish a level of risk, for which it's incumbent on those who then accept said risk to take steps to mitigate if not eliminate entirely. The question then again returns to cost.
"Every shipping company so far has paid the ransom, and every victim has been released unharmed up until this point".So that cost - and the resulting encouragement of more piracy, must fall short of the cost of changing this policy (same link):
...the pirates were armed with AK-47 assault rifles, while the freighter's crew carried no weapons...Even though small arms training is available via the Seafarers International Union. Arming crews (or a trained portion thereof) it seems to me, has a net effect of reducing risk and cost. Clearly something renders that option prohibitive. What that something is I have no idea - but it must be something wonderful, as in the balance it's more valuable than cargo or the lives of crews.
Next: "Go F$%k Yourselves"
Posted by Greyhawk / April 11, 2009 3:51 PM | Permalink
Breaking: American sea Captain Richard Phillips was safely rescued Sunday from four Somali pirates, who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, a U.S. intelligence official said. Three of the pirates were killed and one was... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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