Benerson Little

“The trident of Neptune is the scepter of the world.”*

USS Banbridge taking the Maersk Alabama lifeboat in tow after Navy SEALs rescued Capt. Philips. The lifeboat is now in the Navy SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

I often link articles relating to modern piracy and anti-piracy operations, as well as to historical pirate hunting, on the Facebook page above.

“They are always as vagabonds, and in continual exile, without any rest; agitated by the Winds, Rain, Hail, Snow, at the mercy of Pyrats and Rovers, Rocks and Tempests, in continual hazard of being intomb’d in the bellies of fishes...” —Jeremias Heraclitus Christianus, writing of the merchant seaman in The Man of Sorrow, 1677.

“Some the Sea swallowes, but that which most grieves, Some turne Sea-monsters, Pirates, roaving theeves...” —John Taylor, An Apologie for Sea-men, 1615.

(Tags and archives are listed at the foot of the page in this column.)

US Navy VBSS party holding pirates at bay after an attack on the tanker Nordic Apollo. (US Navy)

Captured pirates. (Spanish military)

Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. (Spanish military/AFP)

Pirate skiff sunk by fire from an EUNAVFOR warship. (EUNAVFOR photograph.)

Somali pirates in a skiff. At the bow is a ladder for boarding, and a pirate armed with an RPG. (EUNAVFOR photograph.)

Somali pirate "mother boat" with fuel and supplies, and a pirate skiff. (NATO photograph.)

Typical Somali pirate arms: assault rifles and RPGs. (NATO photograph.)

Americans held hostage aboard the sailing vessel Quest. All four Americans were murdered by the pirates before Navy SEALs boarded the vessel, killed several of the pirates, and captured the remainder.

Dutch marines capturing suspected Somali pirates on April 4, 2011. (AP photo.)

Royal Malaysian Navy commandos, known as PASKAL, aboard the MT Bunga Laurel with pirate prisoners. (January 22, 2011. Royal Malaysian Navy photo.)

Republic of Korea UDT/SEALs aboard the Samho Jewelry, recaptured from pirates who held her. All of her crew was rescued, with only one injury among them. The ROK SEALs incurred no serious injuries. Eight pirates were killed, and five captured. (January 21, 2011)

USMC maritime assault team prepares to board the Magellan Star in September 2010. The marines re-captured the ship from the pirates who held it. (Department of the Navy)

Boarding party from the USS McFaul aboard pirate mothership Faize Osamani, a captured Indian dhow, on April 5, 2010. (US Department of Defense photograph)

USS Farragut sinking a captured Somali pirate "mother ship" in April, 2010. (US Navy photograph)

Dutch marines from the HNMLSTromp fastrope onto the MV Taipan and capture it from pirates on April 5, 2010. (Dutch Navy photograph)

French pirate hunting frigate Nivose, a "frégate de surveillance." (French navy photograph)

Pirates captured by the French naval vessel Somme in October 2009. (EU NAVFOR Somalia photo)

Boarding team from the frigate HMS Portland captures suspected Somali pirates in June 2009. (Royal Navy photograph)

Dutch commandos capture seven pirates and free twenty fishermen who had been forced to work the mother ship. Unfortunately, the pirates were soon themselves freed due to constraints of Dutch law and of NATO. (Royal Navy photograph)

Small pirate "mother ship" (bateau mère) intercepted by French frigate Nivôse in April 2009. The vessel was loaded with fuel. (French Ministry of Defense photograph)

7.62 mm exit holes in the stern of the Maersk Alabama lifeboat. The holes were plugged with silicone. (Author's photo, taken at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, Ft. Pierce, Florida.)

Captain Richard Phillips (on right) aboard the USS Bainbridge after being rescued from pirates by the US Navy. His captors were shot dead by Navy SEAL snipers. (US Navy photograph)

French commandos aboard the yacht Tanit. (AFP)

Liberation of the yacht Tanit by the French Navy, including members of the Commando Hubert. (French Ministry of Defense photograph)

USS Vella Gulf captures Somali pirates in February 2009. (US Navy photograph)

Captured Somali pirates. (US Navy photograph)

MV Sirius Star ransomed by air drop. (US Navy photograph)

A few of the pirates who captured the arms ship MV Faina. (US Navy photograph)

Thai fishing trawler destroyed by Indian frigate INS Tabar. The trawler was under attack by pirates. The frigate, which came under fire from pirates aboard the trawler, believed the vessel was a pirate "mother ship." (India Defense Ministry photograph)

French commandos capture several of the pirates who held the luxury yacht Le Ponant for ransom. (French Ministry of Defense photograph)

Pirate skiff destroyed by the USS Porter in 2007. (US Navy photograph)

* By Antoine Marin Lemierre, from his poem "Commerce." (Le trident de Neptune est le sceptre du monde.)

Book Links:
Descriptions & Reviews

Historical Fiction
The sequel to Fortune's Whelp: stay tuned!
Maritime adventure and historical intrigue set amidst the attempted assassination of King William III.
Narrative Maritime History
The truth behind the great pirate myths and legends. In print!
Maritime History

A colorful and detailed description of how pirates and privateers practiced their trade.

To really understand what the pirate's world was like: how buccaneers lived, fought, and died.


Piracy News & Commentary

The Cost of Somali Piracy

April 12, 2013

Tags: Somali piracy

The Economist magazine (April 11, 2013) quotes a World Bank estimate of an $18 billion annual cost of piracy. Other estimates are listed in the notes and errata section of the Pirate Hunting page.

Hostage Rescue

December 24, 2012

Tags: Somali piracy, anti-piracy

A BZ to Puntland forces who rescued 22 hostages aboard the MV Iceberg 1. The ship was captured by Somali pirates almost three years ago.

Somali Piracy Diminished, At Least Temporarily

September 26, 2012

Tags: Somali piracy, anti-piracy

Good article on the present state of Somali piracy: It's still too soon to tell if the scourge of Somali piracy is nearly over--it may have a brief respite, and there's always the unlikely chance of a significant increase in tactical ability--but at least time has proved (more…)

Piracy Law

May 14, 2012

Tags: piracy law, law of piracy

Piracy law blog:

Appropriate Use of Force

May 9, 2012

Tags: Somali piracy, anti-pirate tactics

Some criticism has blown up recently over video (that should never have been posted) of a security team apparently defending its ship from attack by Somali pirates. The article posted here provides a general summary of the issues. I disagree with the title (more…)


January 25, 2012

Tags: Somali piracy

A BZ to the Navy SEALs, along with other U.S. special operations forces, who rescued two aid workers captured by pirates--by criminal elements ashore who often work as pirates, that is. Nine pirates were killed in the rescue. According to local sources, as well as some early news reports citing an FBI source, (more…)

Footnote on Armed Guards

December 16, 2011

Tags: Somali piracy, anti-piracy

As I noted more than a year ago in Pirate Hunting and years ago in notes and blogs, armed guards remain the most viable interim solution to Somali piracy. Both governments and shipping companies to a large degree have accepted this as inevitable.

Piracy Convictions

December 16, 2011

Tags: Somali piracy, anti-piracy

Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali, a former Somali police officer who became the commander of a band of nineteen pirates, was convicted in Virginia of piracy and for his role in the murder of four U.S. citizens aboard the yacht Quest. He was sentenced to life in prison. A former electrician, Jilian (more…)

Heavy Machine Guns

October 2, 2011

Tags: Somali piracy, anti-piracy

This week the Spanish government approved the use of heavy machineguns by private security forces against Somali pirates. Some analysts have been quick to condemn this act as leading to a possible arms race at sea. The machineguns--often described in commentary as "heavy weapons," leaving an impression of more powerful arms--fire a 12.7x99mm NATO, that is, the .50 BMG round. In other words, (more…)

Difficulties in Prosecution of Pirates

September 28, 2011

Tags: Somali piracy

A recent article in the Danish Maritime Magazine points up the difficulties of pirate prosecutions in some cases. Danish law, for example, requires a suspect to be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Although there are reasonable exceptions, the 30 days in one recent case and 40 in another are excessive, many (more…)