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.

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

    • Answer

      Pirates attacked the Alabama in the Indian Ocean.

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

    • Answer

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

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

    • 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.

  4. 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?

    • Answer

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

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

    • 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.


person who is not in the military.


armed forces.


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


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."