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U.S. petty officer pens a modern pirate novel

By CHRIS FOWLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 1, 2007

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — An emergency “flash” message is rushed to the commanding officer of USS Chancellorsville.

Subject: Anti-piracy operations.

Message: An Indonesian frigate engaged pirate gunship off coast of Sumatra. The Indonesian frigate has been lost and has suffered heavy casualties.

The Yokosuka-based cruiser has just been drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with pirates who are after more than money. They are attempting to underwrite an emerging revolution in the Philippines that could destabilize the entire region.

While the events described above are fictional, they are not so far-fetched, says author S. Daniel Smith, who used the above scenario in his novel, “Feeding the Dragon.”

And piracy on the high seas is a subject with which the author is quite familiar.

S. Daniel Smith also answers to the name Petty Officer 1st Class Dan Smith, and he’s participated directly in anti-piracy operations.

Smith, currently assigned to the San Diego-based USS Antietam, has served in the Navy for 11 years, including a tour with the USS Mobile Bay when it was forward-deployed to Yokosuka.

It was there that he became enthralled by the impact of modern-day pirates.

Drawing from his personal experiences, Smith takes readers into the shadowy realm of modern piracy in “Feeding the Dragon.”

“Seagoing piracy is a deadly game played often in territorial waters off littoral nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines to name a few,” Smith wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

According to Smith, piracy is prevalent in the Pacific because most nations in the region have large coastlines but very little, if any, naval presence.

But Smith believes the pirates can be controlled.

“In all of these situations, the manpower, technology and experience of the U.S. Navy, particularly through 7th Fleet’s proximity, could pay huge dividends in turning the tide of this unknown war,” Smith said.

For Smith, being a sailor and an author are labors of love, but getting published was something else entirely.

Smith, whose book was released Feb. 28, has some simple advice for other aspiring authors: “Grow thick skin.”

“I know my novel was rejected at least a half dozen times by agents and editors and I didn’t let that get to me,” Smith said. “As a writer, at least as a novice writer, you simply have to have more willpower than the industry. Truth be told, most writers get rejected before they are published.”

As for Smith the sailor, he’s still on the lookout for pirates.

The Antietam currently is conducting operations in the Persian Gulf as part of the USS John C. Stennis Strike Group.

In addition to providing air support in the strike group, Antietam is conducting a wide range of missions including expanded maritime interdiction operations, which can involve boarding and searching both compliant and noncompliant vessels as they transit the Gulf.


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