Rules of Engagement?

[LEFT][SIZE=3]HDMS Absalon has chalked up three Somali pirate mother ship take downs in the past 2 months. The Danish Navy “flexible support ship” has been on anti-piracy patrol since leaving Denmark on September 12, 2011 and arriving off the Horn of Africa in November. While having successfully released two pirated mother ships from captivity in January without casualties, this latest “success” left two hostages dead.

[/SIZE][LEFT]Having shadowed the pirated mother ship for several days, Absalon moved to intercept when the vessel headed out to sea from the Somali coast. After radio calls and warning shots failed to stop the pirate vessel, “a barrage of gunfire from the [I]Absalon[/I]” was unleashed. When the vessel was subsequently boarded, two of eighteen hostages were found mortally wounded. Despite immediate care from a Danish doctor, one Iranian and one Pakistani hostage could not be revived.

Much like the Enrica Lexie incident of two weeks ago, there will certainly be a thorough investigation into these deaths. At this time, it is still unknown if the hostages were wounded by fire from the Absalon or by pirates. Looking back on the sailing vessel [I]Quest[/I] massacre in February 2011, it is unclear why the Danish navy put this much pressure on heavily armed pirates with hostages. In that incident, pirates fearing military action against them executed their hostages.

and the EUNAVFOR contingent have had success recently with freeing mother ships. Unfortunately, they may have overlooked the fact that there are many different Somali pirate groups operating – some of whom may be more committed or prone to violence than others.

Rules of Engagement (ROE) are created to protect lives on both sides of the weapon. Warning and disabling shots may have been in the Danes Escalation of Force (EOF) protocol, but due consideration should have been taken on the immediate effect on the hostages and the psychological effect on the pirates. The psychological effect cannot be underestimated as it might cause either surrender or the irrational actions seen on the Quest. Unless a hostage rescue operation was underway, a la Samho Jewelry, firing on the hijacked mother ship might have many unintended consequences.

Whether these hostages were killed by fire from the Absalon or by the pirates, the ROE failed to protect innocent lives.[/LEFT]

[QUOTE=RichMadden;64088] ROE failed to protect innocent lives.
au contraire mon Ami. 16 lives WERE saved. I believe that unless one would ‘give in’ to the demands, and pay ransom, this would happen. There is (in my mind) nothing else that will stop this Piracy. Except the formation of a functioning government in Somalia. And I don’t think that will be happening any time in the foreseeable future.

In these pirate actions, how many hostages have we NEVER heard from again? Would it be safe to assume that at least some other hostages have been simply murdered and thrown over? Unfortunate. Certainly. But what caused the demise of early maritime piracy? Was it waiting for someone else to do something? Or was it making the ‘price to pay’ too expensive (the lives of the pirates) to continue? I don’t believe we can use ‘modern day’ solutions for an ‘old fashioned’ method of extortion. These hijackers have NOTHING to live for at home, and nothing to fear there from reprisal.


I’ll never debate that freeing 16 hostages was a good thing. Unfortunately, for the 2 hostages that were killed, that freedom came at a pretty high price. The Somali pirates that were captured - not killed, captured - have very little to worry about. No one is going to line them up on the fantail to be executed. Chances are, if they are put on trial, they’ll wind up spending the next 8-10 years in much better conditions than what they left OR more likely, they will be let go. I don’t believe that UKMTO, EUNAVFOR or MARLO have changed the catch and release program, yet. So, in the end, who paid the price? The two dead hostages.

Rules of Engagement (ROE) are there to protect lives. At no point in this exchange does it sound as if fire was directed at the Absalon by the pirates, therefore, there was no lethal threat with which to counter with lethal force. If the Danes meant to disable the mother ship by hitting the rudder or engine, then they took a risk that may have killed hostages or antagonized the pirates into killing hostages. While there may have been instances where Somali pirates have killed the crews of mother ships, I hope that the international coalition out there will still consider the safety of the hijacked crew when intercepting the mother ships.


While there may have been instances where Somali pirates have killed the crews of mother ships, I hope that the international coalition out there will still consider the safety of the hijacked crew when intercepting the mother ships.[/QUOTE]

I think is is crazy to think that they are not concerned about this. However, if people want steps to be taken to stop it and the ROE say live fire can never be used unless it is certain that they hostages will remain unharmed, then nothing will be done.

It is very sad about this loss of life and I doubt anyone is trying to minimize the impact of that.

It would appear that these Pirates can’t be ‘niced’ to quit. Neither will they be convinced this isn’t ‘right’.
Nor will they stop… Unless the cost to them outweighs the penalty.

You didn’t mention the lives that have been torn up simply by being taken hostage. That has an intrinsic cost and repercussions too. As the other post said, I would also be fairly certain that the Danes certainly thought the confrontation with an armed warship would make a sensible person give up after warning shots were fired. I know I would!

The early stop (I think it was by a Portuguese or Spanish warship) that had video evidence of the pirate skiff upon approach throwing over RPGs, AK 47s, ladders etc overboard, then letting the pirates go went a LONG way to reinforce this thought in their minds that they are/were invincible. Wrong message there I think!