Letter -- A Q-Ship Remedy for Somali Piracy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Peter Fromuth ["Pirates, Again," op-ed, Dec. 4] correctly called for a new strategy to deal with Somali piracy. But until there is international agreement on a coastal blockade with teeth, why not use some Stephen Decatur-style guile and set a trap, so to speak? One effective and relatively cheap method would be to adapt and employ the Q-ship tactics used successfully by the Royal Navy in World War I.

A Q-ship was a decoy vessel designed to look like a soft merchant target to patrolling German submarines. When a U-boat surfaced to sink the vessel with gunfire rather than with an expensive torpedo, side panels on the Q-ship would drop, revealing guns that were not there for decoration. Think of the shock to Somali pirates as they raced up to a fat merchantman, with deckhands pretending to run around in panic, as they suddenly found themselves staring into the multiple muzzles of 20mm Gatling guns. There'd be no shortage of naval or security-firm volunteers for such duty, although, in time, there'd be a marked shortage of pirates.



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