- FYI - You may have seen another account of this that
tries to highlight Obama's indecision. This is a different viewpoint.
- Not sure who the source of this info is, apparently a
USNA grad from the late 50's who is passing this on from people in the
know...This version seems to be the most authentic thus far.
- Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 05:59:28 -0400
- Subject: Pirate Saga Details
- Forwarded FYI. This sounds like the real story as it
fits with other accounts but makes more sense.
- Your "Real" story is not exactly the way I
heard it, and probably has a few political twists thrown in to stir the
pot. Rather than me trying to correct it, I'll just tell you what I found
out from my contacts at NSWC (Naval Special Warfare Command) Norfolk and
at SOCOM (Special Operations Command) Tampa.
- First though, let me orient you to familiarize you with
- In Africa from Djibouti at the southern end of the Red
Sea eastward through the Gulf of Aden to round Cape Guardafui at the easternmost
tip of Africa (also known as "The Horn of Africa") is about a
600 nm transit before you stand out into the Indian Ocean. That transit
is comparable in distance to that from the mouth of theMississippi at New
Orleans to the tip of Florida at Key West-- except that 600 nm over there
is infested with Somalia pirates.
- Ships turning southward at the Horn of Africa transit
the SLOC (Sea Lane of Commerce) along the east coast of Somalia because
of the prevailing southerly currents there. It's about 1,500 nm on to Mombassa,
which is just south of the equator in Kenya. Comparably, that's about the
transit distance from Portland Maine down the east coast of the US to Miami
Florida. In other words, the ocean area being patrolled by our naval forces
off the coast of Somalia is comparable to that in the Gulf of Mexicofrom
the Mississippi River east to Miami then up the eastern seaboard to Maine.
- Second, let me globally orient you from our Naval Operating
Base in Norfolk, VA, east across the Atlantic to North Africa, thence across
the Med to Suez in Egypt, thence southward down the Red Sea to Djibouti
at the Gulf of Aden, thence eastward to round Cape Guardafui at the easternmost
tip of Africa, and thence southerly some 300 miles down the east cost of
Somali out into the high seas of the Indian Ocean to the position of MV
ALABAMA is a little more than 7,000 nm, and plus-nine time-zones ahead
- Hold that thought, in that, a C-17 transport averaging
a little better than 400 kts (SOG) takes the best part of 18 hours to make
that trip. In the evening darkness late Thursday night, a team of Navy
SEALs from NSWC (Naval Surface Warfare Center) Norfolk parachuted from
such a C-17 into the black waters (no refraction of light) of the Indian
Ocean-- close-aboard to our 40,000 ton amphibious assault ship, USS BOXER
(LHD 4), the flagship of our ESG (Expeditionary Strike Group) in the AOR
(Area Of Responsibility, the Gulf of Aden). They not only parachuted in
with all of their "equipment," they had their own inflatable
boats, RHIB's (Rigid Hull, Inflatable Boats) with them for over-water transport.
They went into BOXER's landing dock, debarked, and staged for the rescue--
- And, let me comment on time-late: In that the SEAL's
quick response-- departing ready-alert in less than 4 hours from Norfolk--
supposedly surprised POTUS's staff, whereas President Obama was miffed
not to get his "cops" there before the Navy. He reportedly questioned
his staff, "Will 'my' FBI people get there before the Navy does?"
It took the FBI almost 12 hours to put together a team and get them packed-up--
for an "at sea" rescue. The FBI was trying to tell him that they
are not practiced to do this-- Navy SEALs are. But, BHO wanted the FBI
there "to help," that is, carry out the Attorney General's (his)
orders to negotiate the release of Captain Phillips peacefully-- because
apparently he doesn't trust GW's military to carry out his "political
- The flight of the FBI's passenger jet took a little less
than 14 hours at 500-some knots to get to Djibouti. BOXER'S helos picked
them up and transported them out to the ship. The Navy SEALs were already
there, staged, and ready to act by the time POTUS's FBI arrived on board
latter that evening. Notably, the first request by the OSC (On Scene Commander)
that early Friday morning to take them out and save Captain Phillips was
denied, to wit: "No, wait until 'my' FBI people get there."
- Third, please consider a candid assessment of ability
that finds that the FBI snipers had never practiced shooting from a rolling,
pitching, yawing, surging, swaying, heaving platform-- and, target-- such
as a ship and a lifeboat on the high seas. Navies have been doing since
Admiral Nelson who had trained "Marines" to shoot muskets from
the ship's rigging-- ironically, he was killed at sea in HMS VICTORY at
the Battle of Trafalgar by a French Marine rifleman that shot him from
the rigging of the French ship that they were grappling alongside.
- Notably, when I was first training at USNA in 1955, the
Navy was doing it with a SATU, Small Arms Training Unit, based at our Little
Creek amphib base. Now, Navy SEAL's, in particular SEAL Team SIX (The "DevGru")
based at NSWC (Naval Surface Warfare Center) at Little Creek do that training
now, and hone their skills professionally-- daily. Shooting small arms
from a ship is more of an accomplished "Art Form" than it is
a practiced skill. When you are "in the bubble" and "in
tune" with the harmonic motion you find, through practice, that you
are "able to put three .308 slugs inside the head of a quarter at
100 meters, in day or night-- or, behind a camouflaged net or a thin enclosure,
such as a superstructure bulkhead. Yes, we have the monocular scopes that
can "see" heat-- and, draw a bead on it. SEALs are absolutely
expert at it-- with the movie clips to prove it.
- Okay, now try to imagine patrolling among the boats fishing
everyday out on the Grand Banks off our New England coast, and then responding
to a distress call from down around the waters between Florida and the
Bahamas. Three points for you to consider here: (1) Time-Distance-Speed
relationships for ships on the high seas, for instance, at a 25-knot SOA
(Speed Of Advance) it takes 24 hours to make good 600 nm-- BAINBRIDGE did.
(2) Fishermen work on the high seas, and (3) The best place to hide as
a "fisherman" pirate is among other fishermen
- Early Wednesday morning, 4/8/2009, MV ALABAMA is at sea
in the IO about 300 miles off the (east) coast of Somalia en route to Mombassa
Kenya. Pirates in small boat start harassing her, and threatening her with
weapons. MV ALABAMA's captain sent out the distress call by radio, and
ordered his Engineer to shut down the engines as well as the ship-service
electrical generators-- in our lingo, "Go dark and cold." He
informed his crew by radio what was happening, and ordered them to go to
an out-of-the-way compartment and lock themselves in it-- from the inside.
He would stay in the pilot house to "negotiate" with the pirates.
- The pirates boarded, captured the Captain, and ordered
him to start the engines. He said he would order his Engineer to do so,
and he called down to Engine Control on the internal communication system,
but got no answer. The lead pirate ordered two of his four men to go down
and find him and get the engines started.
- Inside a ship without any lights is like the definition
of dark. The advantage goes to the people who work and live there. They
jumped the two pirates in a dark passageway. Both pirates lost their weapons,
but one managed to scramble and get away. The other they tied up, put tape
over his mouth and a knife at his throat.
- Other members of the crew opened the drain cocks on the
pirates boat and cast it adrift. It foundered and sunk. The scrambling
pirate made it back to the pilot house and told of his demise. The pirates
took the Captain at gun point, and told him to launch one of his rescue
boats (not a life boat, per se). As he was lowering the boat for them,
the crew appeared with the other pirate to negotiate a trade. The crew
let their hostage go to soon, and the pirates kept the captain. But, he
purposefully had lowered the boat so it would jam.
- With the rescue boat jammed, the pirates jumped over
to a lifeboat and released it as the captain jumped in the water. They
fired at him, made him stop, and grabbed him out of the water. Now, as
night falls in the vastness of the Indian Ocean, we have the classic "Mexican"
standoff, to wit: A life-boat that is just that, a life-boat adrift without
any means of propulsion except oars and paddles; and, a huge (by comparison)
Motor Vessel Container Ship adrift with a crew that is not going to leave
their captain behind. The pirates are enclosed under its shelter-covering,
holding the captain as their hostage. The crew is hunkered down in their
ship waiting for the "posse" to arrive.
- After receiving MV ALABAMA'S distress call, USS BAINBRIDGE
(DDG 96) was dispatched by the ESG commander to respond to ALABAMA's distress
call. At best sustainable speed, she arrived on scene the day after-- that
is, in the dark of that early Thursday morning. As BAINBRIDGE quietly and
slowly, at darkened-ship without any lights to give her away, arrived on
scene, please consider a recorded interview with the Chief Engineer of
MV ALABAMA describing BAINBRIDGE's arrival. He said it was something else
"... to see the Navy slide in there like a greyhound!" He then
said as she slipped in closer he could see the "Stars and Stripes"
flying from her masthead. He got choked up saying it was the "...proudest
moment of my life."
- Phew! Let that sink in.
- Earlier in the day, one of the U.S. Navy's Maritime Patrol
Aircraft, a fixed wing P3C, flew over to recon the scene. They dropped
a buoy with a radio to the pirates so that the Navy's interpreter could
talk with the pirates. When BAINBRIDGE arrived, the pirates thought the
radio to be a beaconing device, and threw it overboard. They wanted a satellite
telephone so that they could call home for help. Remember now, they are
fishermen, not "Rocket Scientists," in that, they don't know
that we can intercept the phone transmission also.
- MV ALABAMA provided them with a satellite phone. They
called home back to "somebody" in Eyl Somalia (so that we now
know where you live) to come out and get them. The "somebody"
in Eyl said they would be out right away with other hostages, like 54 of
them from other countries, and that they would be coming out in two of
their pirated ships. Right-- and, the tooth fairy will let you have sex
with her. Yea, in paradise. The "somebody" in Eyl just chalked
up four more expendables as overhead for "the cost of operation."
- Anyway, ESG will continue to "watch" Eyl for
any ships standing out.
- The Navy SEAL team, SEAL TEAM SIX, from NSWC briefed
the OSC (Commander Castellano, CO BAINBRIDGE) on how they could rescue
the captain from the life boat with swimmers-- "Combat Swimmers,"
per se. That plan was denied by POTUS because it put the captain in danger--
and, involved killing the pirates.
- The FBI negotiators arrived on scene, and talked the
pirates into sending their wounded man over for treatment Saturday morning.
Later that afternoon, the SEAL's sent over their RHIB with food and water
to recon the life boat but the pirates shot at it. They could have taken
them out then (from being fired upon) but were denied again being told
that the captain was not in "imminent danger." The FBI negotiators
calmed the situation by informing the pirates of threatening weather as
they could see storm clouds closing from the horizon, and offered to tow
the life boat. The pirates agreed, and BAINBRIDGE took them under tow in
their wake at 30 meters-- exactly 30 meters, which is exactly the distance
the SEALs practice their shooting skills.
- With the lifeboat under tow, riding comfortably bow-down
on BAINBRIDGE's wake-wave ("rooster tail"), had a 17-second period
of harmonic motion, and at the end of every half-period (8.5 seconds) was
steady on. The light-enhanced (infra-red heat) monocular scopes on the
SEAL's .308 caliber Mark 11 Mod 0 H&K suppressor-fitted sniper rifles
easily imaged their target very clearly. Pirates in a life boat at 30-meters
could be compared to fish in a barrel. All that was necessary was to take
out the plexiglass window so that it would not deflect the trajectory of
the high velocity .308 round. So, a sniper (one of four) with a wad-cutter
round (a flaxen sabot) would take out the window a split second before
the kill-shot-- no change in sight-picture, just the window blowing out,
- Now, here's the part BHO's "whiz kids" knew
as well as the Navy hierarchy, including CO BAINBRIDGE and CO SEAL TEAM
SIX. It's the law in Article 19 of Appendix L in the "Convention of
the High Seas" that the Commanding Officer of a US Ship on the high
seas is obligated to respond to distress signals from any flagged ship
(US or otherwise), and protect the life and property thereof when deemed
to be in IMMINENT DANGER. So, in the final analysis, it would be Captain
Castellano call as to "Imminent Danger," and that he alone was
obligated (duty bound) to act accordingly.
- Got the picture?
- After medically attending to the wounded pirate, and
feeding him, come first light (from the east) on Easter Sunday morning
and the pirates saw they were being towed further out to sea (instead of
westward toward land), the wounded pirate demanded to be returned to the
lifeboat. There would BE NO more negotiations-- and, the four Navy SEAL
snipers "in the bubble" went "Unlock." The pirate holding
Captain Philips raised the gun to his head, and IMMINENT DANGER was so
observed and noted in the Log as CO BAINBRIDGE gave the classic order:
WEAPONS RELEASED! I can hear the echo in my earpiece now, "On my count
(from 8.5 seconds), 3, 2, 1, !" POP, BANG! Out went the window, followed
by three simultaneous shots. The scoreboard flashed: "GAME OVER, GAME
OVER-- NAVY 3, PIRATES 0!"
- I hope you found the above informative as best I know
it-- and, please excuse me in that after more than 50 years the Navy is
still in me. I submit thatAMERICA is going to make a comeback, and more
than likely it'll be on the back of our cherished youth serving with honor
in Our military.
- So, let's
- Look Up, Get Up-- and, Never Give Up!