Old lessons used to fight new pirates

Aug. 28, 2009 at 6:20 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Lessons learned in the 15th century apply in the 21st when it comes to fighting piracy, a senior U.S. Navy historian told a bloggers' roundtable.

"You can't fight pirates with large warships. You have to have ships that have shallow drafts that can go in and chase the pirates close to shore," historian Michael Crawford said. "And the other thing we learned is that it's best to hit the pirates in their shore facilities. It's easier to stop their deprivations ashore than it is to do it on the high seas."

Crawford has studied piracy and privateering from the 15th century to the present. Privateers received sanctions from their government to attack ships flying a flag of a country at war with the privateer's country.

Although international conventions effectively ended privateering as a legitimate form of warfare in the 19th century, piracy continues, especially off the coast of Somalia, an American Forces Press Service release reported.

Somali pirates fired upon a U.S. Navy helicopter from the USS Chancellorsville Tuesday. The pirates were on a Taiwanese-flagged ship they hijacked in April and use as a "mother ship" for their attacks, including the hijacking of the U.S.-flagged Maersk-Alabama in the Indian Ocean.

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