In January 2006, when the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) captured a pirate ship off of the coast of Somalia, it highlighted not only the increasing problem of piracy in many of the world's littoral areas but also the rarity of catching pirates in the act despite the hundreds of cases of piracy reported each year. Piracy today is a threat to maritime traffic of all types, especially through such vital choke points as the Strait of Malacca and the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb. Furthermore, if pirates in November 2005 had managed to board the cruise ship M/V Seahoiirn Spirit in the same general area near Somalia, it would have been hard to determine where piracy ended and terrorism began.
The Sailors and ships of the 5th Fleet are playing an important role in suppressing piracy in the Horn of Africa, but we might wish to look at another approach besides using large men-of-war or even the littoral combat ship to battle this menace. Pirates engage the weak and run from the strong. Therefore, maybe we should look back to the experiences of World War I and see if the Q-ship concept may still have value today.