Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Privateering I?

This is coolbert:

Thanks to Al Nofi, CIC # [various entries], through StrategyPage.

Perhaps around 1980, in response to the smuggling of illegal drugs BY SEA into the U.S., and the failed efforts of American Coast Guard to stop same [smuggling], the American government contemplated, for a time, the return to the practice of privateering! Private concerns [”white companies"??] to intercept and capture at sea drug smuggling vessels, prize money to be awarded according to the value of the ship!! [”prize” does not include the value for the illegal drugs of course!!]

"A privateer was a private warship authorized by a country's government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping. Strictly, a privateer was only entitled to attack enemy vessels during wartime . . . Privateers were an accepted part of naval warfare from the 16th to the 19th centuries . . . The costs of commissioning privateers was borne by investors hoping to gain a significant return from prize money earned from enemy merchants."

This idea was not implemented for various reasons, illegality under international law being one of them??!!

Privateering WAS a major business during time of war. A prize-of-war could “fetch a handsome price” and MAKE A MAN RICH IN A WAY THAT CIVILIAN PURSUITS COULD NOT!!


"In 1813 the American privateer Thomas, an armed schooner, took two British ships that together yielded $92,246.36 in prize, so that even the lowest ranking member of the crew was awarded nearly $800, over four years’ pay for a common unskilled worker." [CIC # 168]

"As a result of a series of successful engagements against the French in 1794, Capt. John Maude, of HMS Leopard, a 50 gun ship, realized £33,144 in prize money, over 227 times what the Royal Navy paid him each year" [CIC # 153]

Was also a “business” amazingly well-regulated!

"the law set up a sliding scale for divvying the loot up among the affected officers and crew members."

* "5% to the commander of the squadron, unless he was also the captain of the capturing vessel"

* "10% to the captain of the capturing vessel, plus the squadron commander’s share if the vessel was sailing independently"

* "10% to be divided among the ship’s lieutenants, sailing master, and captain of marines."

* "10% for the ship's senior professional and technical personnel (e.g., surgeon, chaplain, chief boatswain, chief carpenter, master gunner)"

* "17½% for the midshipmen and specialized personnel (e.g., sail maker, armorer, master-at-arms, schoolmaster, and the mates of the men in the preceding class)"

* "12½% among the remaining non-commissioned officers"

* "35% for the ordinary seamen, marines, and boys"

Let me put things in a proper perspective.

"even the lowest ranking member of the crew was awarded nearly $800" [1813].

That amount of money, $800, for the common unskilled seaman, is worth, in today's dollars:

"In 2006, $800.00 from 1813:

$146,924.14 using the unskilled wage"

Privateering anyone?




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