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1948 years ago in AD 63 an earthquake in southern Italy by the gulf of Naples seriously damaged the ancient city of Pompeii causing an undetermined number of deaths and spread out destruction, but the locals went to work rebuilding in the same spot until they were buried by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano 16 years later in AD 79.

Galveston TX Hurricanes

Average Brushed or hit every 2.94 years
Average Direct hit every 8.63 years

The Great Storm of 1900 - Sep 8th 1900 - Pop: 42,000 residents
Category 4 @ 135 mph -Great loss of life between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals – officially 8,000

The 1915 Storm, August 17th, Category 4 @ 135 mph
42    people dead in the Galveston area
$60 - 1915 million dollars in damage

Ike Sep 13th 2008 - The third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States
Final landfall in Galveston Texas as a strong cat 2 with cat 5 equivalent storm surge winds extended 120 miles from the center.

Blamed for at least 195 deaths – 74 in Haiti and 112 in the USA 300 still missing. - Damages estimated at 24 billion (2008) US Dollars

Resulted in the largest evacuation in the state of Texas history and the largest search and rescue operation in US history

Nuclear Issues

Chernobyl, An Experiment Gone Wrong

On Saturday, April 26th, 1986 at 1:23 am, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded.
Ironically, the experiment consisted in testing how the power plant would respond in the event of an accident. The operators at the plant wanted to bring down the power output of the reactor to 25%, but over-confidence, poor training and poor knowledge of how a reactor works caused them to overdo it, and they ended up bringing down the power output to 1%. When they then tried to bring it up to 25%, the reactor overheated and exploded causing the worst nuclear accident in history.

Five U.S. nuclear reactors in earthquake zones

Status of the Nuclear Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant

How a Reactor Shuts Down and What Happens in a Meltdown

Hazards of Storing Spent Fuel

Timeline: Nuclear Plant Accidents

Why the Fukushima disaster is worse than Chernobyl

In graphics: Fukushima nuclear alert

Fukushima victims: homeless, desperate & angry

Japan Panel: Fukushima nuclear disaster "man-made"

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Terrorism: Maritime Piracy
Posted on Thursday, April 26 @ 07:10:25 PDT by admin

Currently six vessels are being held in Somalia by pirates

Case Study:
1998 – The Chang-Sun merchant vessel in the South China Sea heading to Malayasia with a crew of 23 people is stopped by custom officials off of Taiwan. The custom officials in uniform killed each member of the crew and threw their bodies into the sea. The Chinese government moved quick to raid Chinese pirate havens, arrested 38 people involved directly or in support roles to pirates. 13 pirates were promptly executed and overnight made China a place pirates wish to avoid.

1. Actual/attempted pirate attacks in global waters: 1991-2000
1991 - ............. 107
1992 - ............. 106
1993 - ............. 103
1994 - ............... 90
1995 - ............. 188
1996 - ............. 228
1997 - ............. 247
1998 - ............. 202
1999 - ............. 300
2000 - ............. 469
ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships. Annual Report: 1 January - 31 December 2000 (London: CC-IMB, January 2001).

Security precautions:

The following is a list of suggestions for the crew of a ship:
1-Captains should take evasive actions with the vessel to dodge the pirate ship or to create wakes that may disrupt the smaller pirate vessel due to the fast turns at higher speeds
2-Alarm and awake the crew
3-Turn on the lights of the boat
4- Use fire hoses to repeal ships and boarders

If one ship looks ready for pirates and another target does not, then the least prepared ship becomes the new target.
It is important to seek out up to date intelligence on pirate activity and to train and drill crew members in responding to a pirate attack. Locking a ship down and locking the crew in their rooms can prove to be an invitation to disaster.

How far do you take defense?

On board weapons to crew members raises major issues. International law forbids the possession and use of weapons aboard ships. However when faced with fire, the reality is that a crew may want to fight fire with fire. It is also important to realize that the cargo of a ship (such as liquid nitrogen) may require that only a trained security group have access and use of weapons in the event of a pirate attack. Shooting to kill is a skill not known or experienced by most seafarers.

Security experts question is seafarers can handle pirates. A small personal vessel may face 4-10 pirates. A major merchant ship may be attacked by upwards of 70 or more pirates with automatic weapons and military training. Three or four crew members is not enough to handle such a large scale assault. Therefore private security firms and professional security agencies are more suited to the special needs of ships.

Currently it costs anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 for a security firm to escort a ship through a location such as the Malacca straights. Most companies balk at the idea of such costs. Privately hired security personnel fall under the law of Asian nations as private citizens. However the reality in terms of the response of law enforcement is the old saying “crime ends at the water.” No cruise ship will admit armed guards are present on current vessels since it is considered bad business practice and would scare passengers.


While commercial aviation has seen major security changes, the maritime industry is still the soft underbelly of the U.S. security preparedness. While the attack U.S.S. Cole in Oct 12 2000 is known by most experts, many do not realize that Al Qaeda attacked the USS Sullivan. In January 2000, al Qaeda attempted to ram a boat loaded with explosives into the USS Sullivan in Yemen. (The attack failed only because the boat sank under the weight of its lethal payload.) After this initial failure, Al Qaeda suicide bombers in a speedboat packed with explosives blew a hole in the USS Cole, killing 17 sailors, in October 2000.

In October 2002, an explosives-laden boat hit the French oil tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen. In February 2004, the southern Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for an explosion on a large ferry that killed at least 100 people. In June 2002, for example, the Moroccan government arrested a group of al Qaeda operatives suspected of plotting raids on British and U.S. tankers passing through the Strait of Gibraltar. In fact, since September 11, 2001, strikes on oil targets have become almost routine.

In October 2001, Tamil Tiger separatists carried out a coordinated suicide attack by five boats on an oil tanker off northern Sri Lanka. Oil facilities in Nigeria, the United States' fifth-largest oil supplier, have undergone numerous attacks. In April 2004, suicide bombers in three boats blew themselves up in and around the Basra terminal zone, one of the most heavily guarded facilities of its kind in the world. Ominously, there have been cases of terrorist pirates hijacking tankers in order to practice steering them through straits and crowded sea-lanes-the maritime equivalent of the September 11 hijackers' training in Florida flight schools.

These apparent kamikazes-in-training have questioned crews on how to operate ships but have shown little interest in how to dock them. In March 2003, an Indonesian chemical tanker, the Dewi Madrim, was hijacked off Indonesia. The ten armed men who seized the vessel steered it for an hour through the busy Strait of Malacca and then left the ship with equipment and technical documents.

Disturbing Scenario: Maritime Ships Used as Floating Explosives.

Terrorists seek the biggest bang for buck when it comes to causing a major incident. Al Qaeda or another terrorist organization could easily seize a ship and crash it into a super-tanker. The more frightening scenario would be a ship hijacked and used as a weapon to destroy a large area as a floating improved explosive device.

When considering the likelihood of a ship being hijacked for later use as a floating bomb a number of key factors must be considered both by government agencies and security professionals involved in the safety of the ship. The carrying capacity of the vessel along the sensitive nature of its cargo must be examined by the possibility of an actual impact on a facility or port.

In a visit to Malaysia in 2005, Vice Admiral Terry Cross of the U.S. Coast Guard told participating media groups that the vulnerability of merchant shipping in the Malacca Straits could "alert terrorists to the opportunities for seizing oil tankers" and that "these could be used as floating bombs" (The Straits Times, April 18, 2005). Merchant shipping carrying hazardous materials could also pose a major threat. The 1,289-ton MT Tri Samudra was boarded by pirates in the Malacca Straits. The Tri Samudra is a chemical tanker that was carrying a full cargo of inflammable petrochemical products when it was hijacked. The regional manager of the International Maritime Bureau was quoted as saying: "This is exactly the type of tanker that terrorists would likely use to attack a shore-based port or other facility"

If the vessel chosen was an oil tanker carrying crude oil or petroleum products, its explosive capability would depend whether the vessel had a full load in its hold and the nature of the oil/petroleum products. Crude oil itself is difficult to ignite; its vapor, however, which may remain in the tanks after the vessel has unloaded its cargo, is more easily ignited. Localized fire or oil spills resulting from an attack are the likely concerns for port security professionals.
Merchant ships containing chemical products have unique safeguards that vary differently from oil tankers. The chemical vessels maintain space between tank walls to prevent incompatible cargos from coming into contact with each other. Such vessels however can be subjected to sabotage via a crew members who is in fact a terrorist operative.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) carrier ships (as pictured above) and their potential role in a scenario of this kind have probably received the most attention in recent years. In its liquid state, natural gas is not explosive, and it is in this form that it is shipped in large quantities via refrigerated tankers. Once in the open air, LNG quickly evaporates and forms a highly combustible visible cloud. It has been reported that if ignited the resulting fire could be hot enough to melt steel at a distance of 1,200 feet, and could result in second-degree burns on exposed skin a mile away. A fire of this magnitude would be impossible to extinguish. It would burn until all its fuel was spent.

A liquid nitrogen gas shipping vessel could be hijacked, and once in a port and awaiting the harbor pilot, it could be put on auto-pilot and crash. A conventional explosion on-board the vessel could be created as the ship crashed into the target. If powerful enough this could rupture the hull and cause the gas to escape. The force required to breach the hull and tank, however, would almost certainly cause a fire at the tank location which would ignite the gas as it escaped rather than causing a cloud of fire or plume.
Such a release of 33 million gallons of fluid gas would result in thousands of deaths, the equivalent of a small nuclear device going off. Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo stated in a speech given to the ASEAN Regional Forum on July 29, 2005: "Terrorists could hijack a Liquefied Natural Gas tanker and blow it up in Singapore harbor. Singapore, of course, would be devastated. But the impact on global trade would also be severe and incalculable"


On Dec 6th 1917, a small LNG boat crashed in Mont Blanc Halifax. The resulting explosion killed 1900 people, injured 9000 people and destroyed the north side of the area.

Additional Maritime Terrorism Scenarios:

Scenario: Ship Sunk to Block the Straits of Malacca

In the Malacca straits, the narrowest point is at One Fathom Bank, with a width of 0.6 nautical miles. Singapore's major broadsheet newspaper, the Straits Times printed on March 27, 2004, noted that "If terrorists want to mount a maritime strike here [Southeast Asia], sinking a ship in the Malacca Straits is the likely attack of choice."

Any blocking of the major sea lanes in this region of the world would result in major economic havoc upon the American and Western European economies." This attack is unlikely. Although the narrowest point of the marked channel in the Malacca Straits is at One Fathom Bank, where the width is 0.6 nautical miles, a ship sunk in this area would not cripple shipping lanes. Even if a ship was sunk at this point, merchant ships would continue to use the waterway by simply navigating around the sunken vessel.

Scenario: Missile Launched at Aircraft from Vessel

It is possible for terrorists using a surface to air missile (SAM) purchased on the black market to be launched from a ship or shore location to bring down a commercial airliner or to attack another ship with incendiary cargo. SAMs can be purchased on the black market for a starting price of $10,000 and have a range which puts aircraft that are landing or in a holding pattern waiting to land well within their targeting capability.

In Asia, the missile could be launched from one of the many hundreds of small vessels transiting the Singapore Straits. Short of inspecting the contents of every ship that passes though the Singapore Straits, law enforcement agencies of different jurisdictions can do very little to reduce this particular threat. Private security forces for a company are in a much better position to prevent such an attack in this possible scenario.


In 2005, A U.N. ship was held by Somali pirates for 100 days. 1 out of 10 U.N. aid ships were captured by Somali pirates.

The threat of maritime piracy is one that will continue to grow and effect the safety, economy and security of nations. A greater understanding of this least known area will help prepare both seafarers and law enforcement personnel to current threats on the high seas.


It takes 40 days for a typical oil tanker to carry oil from Saudi Arabia to the United States
1981: Of the 450 boats that fled from Vietnam to Thailand, over ¾ of them had been raided by pirates.
Over 600 people were killed and over 600 people were raped.
445: reported cases of piracy attacks in the Malacca Strait in 2003
400: People murdered or captured from ships in the Malacca Strait in 2004


Nov 2nd 2006, the Seaborne Spirit Cruise ship with 151 passengers going from Egypt to Kenya was attacked at 5:30 A.M. by Somali pirates with automatic rifles and RPGS. Luckily the RPGs didn’t detonate and the captain was able to deploy an LRAD sound amplification device which deafened the pirates and took evasive actions to escape the pirates.


Rand Corporation:
IMB Piracy Center:
Contemporary Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia. By: Chalk, Peter. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, January-March 1998, Vol. 21 Issue 1, p87, 26p, 1 chart; (AN 286864)
Dangerous Waters, Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas, by John S. Burnett. Dutton, 2003, Plume, 2003-2004, New York. (ISBN 0-452-28413-9)
Maritime Piracy and Anti-Piracy Measures. By: Herrmann, Wilfried. Naval Forces, 2004, Vol. 25 Issue 2, p18-25, 6p; (AN 13193917)
Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia. By: Liss, Carolin. Southeast Asian Affairs, 2003, p52, 17p; (AN 10637324)
Modern Piracy. Naval Forces, 2005, Vol. 26 Issue 5, p20-31, 7p; (AN 18506590)
Terror on the High Seas. By: Koknar, Ali. Security Management, June 2004, Vol. 48 Issue 6, p75-81, 6p; (AN 13443749)

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