Thursday, 28 January 2010

Royal Navy's Strange Behaviour

The caption for the above picture is 'Are Navy Officer's hands tied when it comes to pirates?' You decide.

Suspected Somali pirates captured by the Royal Navy are being given fuel, food and water and sent on their way. In three cases they were released even though hostages had been found on board their vessels.

This information was revealed on Tuesday by Defence Minister Baroness Taylor who said there had been four instances in the last year when heavily armed gangs, operating off Somalia, had been given supplies on humanitarian grounds. None of the 66 suspects captured by the Navy in the last year has been taken into custody.

The publisher of Warship World magazine, Mike Critchley, said: "I feel pretty sorry for Navy officers these days who have to phone a lawyer in London before they are allowed to do anything.

"In the old days the captain would have been told to just go and sort it out.

"I am sure that word will soon get around the pirate community that even if you run out of fuel 200 miles off shore a large grey vessel will come and help you on your way."

Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit, who has tabled a series of Parliamentary questions on the issue, said ministers had indicated privately that suspected pirates were not being arrested because of fears they might claim asylum in the UK. He also stated the Navy appeared to be hamstrung by the 'morass of human rights laws and political correctness'.

In November it emerged that the crew of RFA Wave Knight had looked on as pirates kidnapped the Chandlers of Tunbridge Wells, from their yacht near the Seychelles. I have little sympathy with the Chandlers because they were completely foolhardy. They refused to acknowledge advice from other British yachts that they should join with others to sail through this area. Regardless, help should have been given from the Royal Navy but it appears their hands were tied.

The Ministry of Defence initially tried to cover up the ship's role but it later admitted it had been on the scene. It said the ship had not opened fire for fear the Chandlers could have been shot.

What's happening to our Navy? Is Norman Tebbit right in saying they're hamstrung by The Human Rights Act? Or is this a deliberate attempt to reduce its effectiveness then amalgamate it with the army or RAF?

Our sailors deserve far better than this from our political leaders.


13th Spitfire said...

The problem with this is indeed the HRA laws. Basically this is how it works;

If they arrest them they might claim asylum and terrorist-pirates are the last thing we need in Britain, but because of international law we have to ship them of to the UK where they have claimed asylum. The simplest thing is thus to set them free again with all the stuff they need to continue their rampage.

As it stands their hands are indeed very tied, and until we sort this mess out, there simply is no point in having the navy down there since they cannot do anything.

Hythlodaeus said...

Realistically, there probably wasn't much the Wave Knight could have done. It isn't an attack vessel, it's a tanker, crewed by members of the Fleet Auxiliary, not the Navy (the Navy get extremely shirty if you confuse the two - with RFA crews getting more general, less combat orientated training then their Navy counterparts).

If they had intervened, it's entirely possible that there would have been unacceptable levels of RFA and civilian deaths (ie any at all) thanks to a crew which isn't trained for such an eventuality getting gung ho.

Mr. Mxyzptlk said...

First you go on and on and on on on . Ad infinitum about Tony Blair's (supposed)illegal war.

And then you want the Royal(british) Navy to Ignore any legal Ramifications by attacking pirates?.

you should think through what you are asking of people who may end up being charged with a possible war crime...

alternatively you and your supporters could lease a boat set sail and sort them out yourselves .

Hythlodaeus said...

Additionally, it's worth noting that RFA ships don't have the full facilities of their Navy counterparts. For example, a number of RFA ships don't carry medical officers and don't have very limited medical facilities.
One story which was related to me about this involved a tracheotomy being carried out on the Captain of a RFA vessel by the Ship's Purser, who was the most qualified medic on board.

Strathturret said...

Yes what exactly is our navy doing off the African coast!

Stick to channel chaps and you'll be hope every weekend.

Oldrightie said...

Miles from anywhere and not a soul in sight. Just be rid of them. Job done!

subrosa said...

They can do something Spitfire, they can feed the pirates free of charge - oh and give them fuel as well. Rather like having a social security office on your deck.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that Hythlodaeus. I'm clueless about naval matters but I knew someone would set me right.

Still, it doesn't answer why the navy is giving these people food and fuel.

subrosa said...

Oh Niko, you do read things so ambiguously. I only mentioned attacking to recover the hostages.

So it's a war crime for the navy to be giving Somali pirates food and fuel is it?

I like to keep my feet on the ground. I think you're walking on air with your non-argument.

subrosa said...

What are they doing there then Hythlodaeus? This article came from a military website which has a good reputation for accurate news.

subrosa said...

Oh Niko, by the way, I didn't support the Iraq war did you?

subrosa said...

I can't see what they're doing if they're not defending UK citizens Strathturret.

subrosa said...

Tut tut OR, the HRA Righteous will be after you!

Richard said...

Blowing the dust of my copy of 'Royal Navy Junior Officer's General Course 1986' evokes the following memories:-

1. RN captains will only ignore a distress signal or a vessel in obvious distress in very exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances include a ship that is sinking because you're trying to sink it. I don't know of a single occasion in peace time when a ship in distress has been ignored by a RN warship.

2. On receipt of a distress signal, the officer of the watch (junior officer on duty) wakes up the captain who decides what to do. Is that dot on the horizon that's belching smoke and firing off distress rockets a pirate skiff or some hapless yachtie whose fondue pan went up like a napalm bomb and showered his yellow wellies with burning cheese?

Better make the right decision 'cos if you don't, it's a court martial and a new career in estate agency.

Once the captain gives formal permission to respond to a vessel in distress, you are legally obliged to assist. You can't change your mind if the stricken vessel turns out to be the Black Pearl that needs help because Johnny Depp's mascara has run. You can't open fire unless they open fire on you first - same as dealing with a burglar in your house. You can't abandon them to drift and die if they've run out of fuel.

3 Contrary to popular belief, warships are not a little bit of Britain. They're not a sort of floating, mobile embassy. If you try to claim asylum on a ship, you'll just be put ashore at the next safe port of call to make your claim. For Somalians, that's likely to be Kenya or one of the Gulf states.

That's irrelevant though as the problem is not asylum law, it's the Human Rights Act. Somalia is one of a number of countries that are deemed to be too dangerous to return people to against their will. A Somalian in the UK doesn't even need to claim asylum. They can't be deported. They can't be put ashore in any country that might deport them to Somalia.

I think the government may be worried about having to deal with the same problems as the Australian government. Boatloads of destitute Somalians sailing out to the Royal Navy and scuttling their ship beneath them. The navy is then obliged to rescue them and take them back to the UK for tea and benefits.

4. Your photograph shows a Lieutenant (junior grade) of the United States Navy. For him, these problems would never arise as the yanks spend their on-watch time either asleep at the wheel or watching that masterpiece of homoeroticism 'Top Gun' repeatedly until the DVD wears out. Their ships would simply run over any pirates, yachties or foreign naval vessels that get in the way.

Apogee said...

Considering the suggestion made earlier of a few of "us" going down there and "sorting this out". Any guesses as to who would be arrested for piracy and tried by international law? I suggest it would not be the Somali pirates,and we wouldn't get political asylum either!
Which begs the question, why are they not charged under international law?
I thought that was the international obligation of any Government who captures pirates?

John Pickworth said...

I'm not sure the The Human Rights Act even applies upon the high seas to be honest?

Anyway, we should do what the Indian navy do and fire warning shots. Okay they regularly confuse midships with bows but I haven't seen a Captain Prudesh up before an international court recently Have you?

Seriously, we need to tackle this issue and by using force if necessary. Not only are the Nigerians now turning to this very lucrative business but how long will it be before other elements in Yemen and Somalia realise you don't just have to buy 4x4s with your booty? A couple of million dollars would easily fund several 9/11 type attacks too.

Bookmark this and watch the numbers grow (or select the option to see the 2009 map)...

IMB Live Piracy Map 2010

Shocking stuff.

subrosa said...

Richard, thank you for taking the trouble to type that very informative comment. I'm sure the people, like me, who have little or no knowledge of the navy will greatly appreciate it.

Yes I understand the photograph is wrong and that's from a military website! You just can't believe anything!

subrosa said...

Hi Apogee. I think it's something to do with the Human Rights Act as those who have knowledge of the Navy have suggested.

That law will be the death knell of this country.

subrosa said...

John, wasn't there something about our troops not being protected by the HRA when deployed overseas?

Yet Somalian pirates are.

Two and two don't make four do they.

Vronsky said...

Actually that photo is from a Navy training manual, and the original caption was "Remember to cover your rear approaches, especially if you have been at sea for some time."

subrosa said...

Goodness Vronsky, I never realised how well informed some of you are about the photo. I believe it's a a US Naval Lt.

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