Background Info

The U.S. Navy takes a strong stand against piracy, and is part of an international task force dedicated to the issue. Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) includes sophisticated monitoring of the world's oceans by both ships and aircraft.

In this video, learn about the threats pirates pose to military and civilian operations, and what the U.S. Navy is doing to stop them.



The Maersk Alabama, a cargo ship, was hijacked off the coast of Somalia in 2009. In what ocean did this crime take place?

Show Answer

Pirates attacked the Alabama in the Indian Ocean.


Most pirates operate off the large peninsula in East Africa sometimes called the Somali Peninsula. What is the common name of this geographic feature?

Show Answer

The coastal country of Somalia dominates the Horn of Africa, which also includes Djibouti, Eritrea, and the landlocked nation of Ethiopia.


Rear Admiral Michelle Howard explains how pirates use "low-tech" weaponry to attack ships. What weapons and tools does Adm. Howard mention?

Show Answer

Adm. Howard says that pirates usually have one or two skiffs (small boats), RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), AK-47s (automatic assault rifles), and boarding ladders.


Vice Admiral William Gortney outlines how the U.S. Navy works with commercial shipping companies and the United Nations to patrol the region for pirates. What other international organizations work with CTF-151, the counter-piracy task force?

Show Answer

Adm. Gortney says NATO and the EU (European Union), as well as individual nations, work closely with CTF-151.


What are some "best practices" recommended by the Navy and CTF-151 to prevent pirate attacks?

Show Answer

The task force recommends that ships in high-risk areas increase speed, remove external ladders, install razor wire, and pre-position fire hoses to repel pirates attempting to board the ship.

For Further Exploration


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



person who is not in the military.



armed forces.



large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

Encyclopedic Entry: ocean



thief who steals from ships or ships' crews while at sea.



knowledgeable or complex.

U.S. Navy


military branch whose mission is "to maintain, train, and equip combat ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas."


Media Credits

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U.S. Navy


Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

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