Image via WikipediaHow to solve the Somali pirate problem
The problem cannot be solved with military alone. Pirates are willing to take the risk because the insurance companies are chicken and pay up too quickly in the past. However, they would as they have several reasons to...
1) each ship represents a significant investment for the owner
2) they don't want to be accused of being stingy with human lives
3) a few million dollars is nothing, they can just jack up the insurance rates for the other ships
4) compared to pirates in the Pacific, Somali pirates are downright PEACEFUL. Some ships are known to have completely disappeared and their crew gone, only to have the ship shown up a few years later, under new name, new paint, and new ownership, in the Pacific.
However, if you give them lots of carrots, they will demand even more. From a few ships the year before, to MAJOR escalation in 2008 and 2009, Somali pirates evidently decided that they can make even MORE money from piracy. That must be discouraged.
To fix the problem, you need to do a multiprong approach... You need to attack the SOURCE, both from the motives and the means. In other words, offer both a carrot, and a stick. Then you address the vulnerability of the ships to make the less susceptible.
First, you need to address the situation in Somalia... The government is usless. Ethiopian "peacekeepers" are gone. Due to Clinton's cowardice after "Black Hawk Down" we pretty much left Somalia to its fate, and now we're seeing the consequences. UN is not going to do anything useful. What needs to be done is provide some sort of economy to Somalia, to substitute for piracy. Education is for the long run, but what's for the short run? And how do prevent a backslide?
One short-term possibility is deputize the best group of the bunch as "Somalian Maritime Patrol". You pay his VILLAGE X amount of money if they chase away the OTHER PIRATES. The village will get money, but if any more ships get attacked, they get less. If they let too many through, the village gets nothing. Yes, they can divert some of their own money to pay off the other pirates, but the result is the same: less piracy.
The stick will basically harsh treatment of anyone caught as a pirate. However, there will be a one-time amnesty. However, in the future pirates will be killed ON SIGHT.
So how do you do harm to pirates? Several ways...
1) Send in some Q-ships... Basically cargo ships that are actually manned by military and armed with disguised weapons... AND jam the frequencies so the pirates won't be able to coordinate their moves. The interior is actually disguised and easily isolated (it's all a big trap).
The pirates will be extremely cautious when their brethrens stop coming back.
And you have to send in more than one, or else the pirates may figure out which ship it is and either attack it with overwhelming force (unlikely) or avoid it.
2) Send in unmanned drones, long duration such as Predator and so on and maintain patrol over ships in the area, with automatic warnings. If a ship can be warned, they may get a chance to increase speed and run for it, and at least call for help. The drones may even be armed.
Imagine this scenario...
Three speedboats are on approach to this freighter, under the cover of darkness.
When they pass the 5-mile radius mark from the ship, the drone that's monitoring the ship automatically alerted the on-duty operator.
Two automated hover drones take off from the freighter and head for the potentially attack force. Ship's captain is automatically alerted. Each are similar to the Cypher drone in GRAW, and are NOT armed. Instead, they are equipped with a small searchlight, loudspeakers, and noise-canceling microphones.
Upon reaching the leader of the unknown force, both will assume a retrograde. One will shine the spotlight on the lead boat, with loudspeakers issuing a challenge, such as:
"This is UN Navy. You are approaching UN protected ship. Stop and state your intentions. You have 30 seconds to comply."
The challenge will be issued in English and local dialects. The other drone will watch the enemy for hostile actions. Increase of speed, brandishing weapons, or etc, and the Predator hovering higher will unleash its Hellfire missiles, with one of the drones doing the laser illuminating.
Or you can use Firescout drones with a gunpod loaded with tracers, firing AHEAD of the boat.
"This is your final warning. Stop the vessel or turn away, else we will assume you are hostile, and lethal force will be used."
If the boats stop or turn away, they will not be pursued. If they choose to call the bluff, when one of their boats are lifted out of the water and disintegrate under the Hellfire they will change their mind.
3) Limit ships to shipping lanes, and form small convoys escorted by minor combatants, either frigates or even corvettes. This should allow combatants to protect several ships at once, and the drones can cover the rest.
4) Create a rapid response group out of hydrofoils and hovercrafts... something VERY fast basically. AND mobile gunship platforms, similar to the Nightstalkers used aganst the Iranian Boghammers.
The Pegasus hydrofoils should still be around... They are just big enough for a small LAMPS chopper, I think, and plenty for several drones. Add a floating base, something similar to an oil platform, and you should be able to control most of the area, along with existing NATO and UN forces.