I make no claims as to the accuracy of this account, but it sure makes for a great story:
<TABLE class=EC_MsoNormalTable cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style=“PADDING-RIGHT: 0in; PADDING-LEFT: 0in; PADDING-BOTTOM: 0in; PADDING-TOP: 0in” vAlign=top>
[B]Flint, the writer of this message is a former Green Beret Captain who served three tours in Vietnam. He then spent 20 years with Az DPS, part of which time he was on the department SWAT team during my ten-year tenure. Retired as a District Commander in Tucson. Now lives in Oklahoma. This is the account given to him by his Special Ops contacts of what the American crew went through off the coast of Somalia. Interesting stuff! /300[/B]
[B]Subject:[/B] 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 Norfolk and at SOCOM Tampa.
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 of EST.
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-- Thursday night.
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-- [U]for an “at sea” rescue[/U]. 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 guidance.”
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.
Con’t Part II (too long for 1 post)