Update: Welcome, Instapundit readers!
Meet the USS Independence.
And just as surely John Paul Jones and Alfred Thayer Mahan are smiling down on this sight even now. Ms. King’s reader, SG, the person who sent her the photos and captions, echoed my own feeling when he said:
Ironic that with all that high tech built in, the ship reminds us of the Merrimac ironclad from Civil War days.
In addition to a number of profesional images of the ship, SG supplied plenty of information about her. Here’s one caption from Ms. King’s post:
Littoral means close to shore, and that’s where these very ships will operate. They’re tailor-made for launching helicopters and armored vehicles, sweeping mines and firing all manner of torpedoes, missiles and machine guns.
These ships are also relatively inexpensive. This one’s a bargain at $208 million, and the Navy plans to build 55 of them.
This tri-maran is the first of a new fire breathing breed, ready to scoot out of dry dock at a rumored 60 knots. It’s like a speedy and heavily armed aircraft carrier for helicopters.
Wouldn’t our early government have loved to possess even one of these tri-marans? Imagine the fear the LCS would have engendered in the hearts of Barbary pirate governments, Muslims who were parasites on other countries, demanding tribute and enslaving anyone they managed to capture on the Mediterranean.
These purpose-built “pirate-catchers” will be an excellent deterrent to the chronic pestilence of Somali parasites who have captured so many ships and made the cost of doing business both dangerous and expensive. Following in the steps of their forebears, they contribute nothing, they create nothing (unless you count fear and mayhem), and they refuse to abide by any system of law.
What is puzzling — and I hope knowledgeable readers will give us some information on this issue — is why there hasn’t been a concerted effort by various governments, working in cooperation with one another to bring these pirates to justice. I realize that some of them, like the suicidal British, have rules in place that prevent them from effectively addressing the problem, i.e., captured pirates are returned to their home countries rather than made to walk the plank — or whatever is the modern equivalent of deep-sixing these thieving murderers.
But what about China? They pay the ransom for their ship, its cargo and crew. How Chinese is that?
For Christmas, the future Baron gave me a most readable account of America’s early experience with the Barbary pirates. Unlike Europe, whose countries cynically paid the heavy tribute to these thieves, the United States chafed under the injustice. Now freed from England, our new nation no longer had the protection of her estranged mother country. In addition, when Napoleon successfully overthrew the monarchy, he broke France’s diplomatic ties with America. We’d sided with the royals, after all, so we were another enemy.
Tripoli: The United States’ First War on Terrorism is a good rendition of our early experience with the Barbary pirates…
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In a way, our conflict with these jackals served us well since it permitted the early building of our Navy (and those soldiers of the seas, the Marine Corps). Had necessity not intervened via the depredations visited on our merchant shipping off the coast of North Africa, we might have twiddled our thumbs for a generation or so while the State Department attempted to call all the shots.
Parallels abound between our first encounter with the Barbary pirates and this one. For example, there doesn’t appear to be any concerted cooperation among the many countries who suffer financial loss and endangerment to their citizens due to the interference of the pirates. Why is that? After all this time, why do the pirates continue to succeed? Why is there no military offensive against them?
In the introduction to Tripoli author David Smethurst says:
Because the United States lacks a strong army and navy, President Adams appoints four consuls [to North Africa’s pirate governments -D] to maintain the fragile peace. One of them is William Eaton, a thirty-four-year-old soldier-diplomat and the personification of the young country — independent-minded and aggressive. This is his story.
Notice his use of the present tense here, a good indication his acccount will be a story, not just another history book. Smethurst decision to focus on Eaton’s experiences works admirably to give both one person’s view while also permitting the author to step back and pan his camera over the larger events that by turns propel Eaton into action or complicate his efforts to bring an end to the criminal activities of the Barbary states and to foster America’s position. He faces off against the perfidious French and the lying, wily Dey of Tunis.
Eaton was sent by President Adams with a specific mission: to buy the peace in order to maintain the flow of American commerce. Eaton understood this pragmatism, but he didn’t like it. When Thomas Jefferson was George Washington’s Secretary of State he’d pushed Congress to “repel force with force”, but instead they bought the peace by paying ever-increasing tribute and lavishing “presents” (ordered by each Dey) on the pirate governments. In turn, the Barbary states competed with one another for the ‘best’ gifts, often making outlandish, unattainable demands on a cash-strapped America.
If you want to see history come full circle, or to glimpse how Muslim countries view “diplomacy”, then you’re going to enjoy Tripoli. It’s well-researched and the bibliographic sources give you many opportunities to delve further. Smelthurst also went the extra step, following the fortunes of the main players after they returned to America.
Be sure to visit Andrea Shea King’ post about these littoral combat ships to see many more photos of the USS Independence accompanied by knowledgeable captions from Ms. King’s reader, SG.
Also see this site for information about the commissioning service on January 16th. If you live near Mobile Alabama, you can write for an invitation. The public is welcome.
This page says:
TO REQUEST AN INVITATION FOR THE COMMISSIONING
submit a request in writing to:
USS Commissioning Committee
Mobile Council Navy League
P.O. Box 81204
Mobile, AL 36689
Given the late date, however, you might want to try this contact:
Previous posts about the Somali pirates: