Thursday, April 23, 2009

Navy 3, Pirates 0

This isn't mine, but I am passing it along.

I'll just tell you what I found out from my contacts at NSWC
Norfolk and at SOCOM Tampa.

First though, let me orient you to familiarize you with the

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 the Mississippi at New Orleans to the tip of
Florida at Key West-- except that 600 nm over there is infested with Somalia

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 Mexico from 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 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-- 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 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.

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." Next page.

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, clean.

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 pirated, 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

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 that AMERICA 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!