Its been two years since this question was scribed, and nobody else be bringn' it up, so perhaps now be th' time to be tellin' th' tale o' th' Red Flag Fleet. It be also th' tale o' Cheng I Sao, th' pirate queen o' th' South China Sea.
Cheng originally got into th' business by th' traditional method: being captured by pirates. She hit it off well enough with captain Zheng Yi that they were married in 1801. Over th' next 3 years Zheng created a jolly alliance that eventually became known as th' Red Flag Fleet. When Zheng visited Davey Jones' Locker in 1807, Cheng (after considerable political maneuvering) took over control o' th' fleet.
Under Cheng, th' Red Flag Fleet reportedly grew to 1,800 ships, and around 70,000 lads, wenches and sprogs. They were effectively th' government o' Guangdong province, and controlled th' entire underworld in th' South China Sea, o' course charging merchants for safe passage. They even had their own laws and taxes. At one point th' Chinese organized a large fleet o' their own to destroy th' Red Flag Fleet. Th' main result o' th' ensuing battle was that Cheng's fleet gained 63 new Chinese-built ships.
Cheng retired a very wealthy wench indeed, and visited Davey Jones' Locker in 1844 at th' ripe age o' 69.