Submarines And Pirates
Everyone seems happy with the resolution to the latest piracy incident off the coast of Somalia, where Navy forces treated pirates the way pirates have been treated throughout history -- they were captured or killed. Here's an interesting story about how the Navy SEAL personnel carried out their mission. Excerpts:
The operation to rescue Capt. Richard Phillips involved dozens of Navy SEALs, who parachuted from an aircraft into the scene near dark Saturday, landing in the ocean. The SEALs were part of a group of Special Operations forces involved in the effort, according to military officials...Some parts of the story are amazing -- the pirates actually accepted a tow from the U.S. warship? Other parts I find, to be honest, a little bit Hollywood-ish. Why would the SEALs parachute into the water, when they could have landed on USS Boxer and then come in by helicopter? I wouldn't be surprised to eventually find out that they might have been a SEAL detachment that normally rides around on an SSGN.
...The SEALs set up operations on the USS Bainbridge, which had been communicating with the four pirates via radio and had used smaller boats to make deliveries of food and water to their lifeboat. Yet the pirates were growing increasingly agitated, the officials said. At one point Saturday, the pirates opened fire on one of the smaller U.S. Navy craft that approached.
As the seas grew rougher, the Bainbridge offered to tow the lifeboat to calmer waters, and the pirates agreed, linking up the lifeboat to the destroyer with a towing cable that left 75 to 80 feet between the two vessels. Phillips at the time was tied up in the lifeboat, having been bound -- and occasionally beaten -- by the pirates ever since he had attempted to escape by jumping into the water on Friday, the officials said...
...U.S. military observers thought that Phillips was about to be shot. SEAL snipers, who were positioned on a deck at the stern of the Bainbridge, an area known as the fantail, had the three pirates in their sights. The on-scene commander gave the snipers authority to fire.
"As soon as the snipers had a clear shot at the guy who had the rifle, they shot him and the other two in the hatches," the senior military official said.
Obviously, there are things that submarines can do to help in the war on terror and piracy that we certainly don't want to talk about here -- those readers who aren't submariners will just have to trust us on that. I'd be happy, though, if Big Navy would open up a little bit to acknowledge that contributions of submarines to 21st century warfare in a non-specific way.
For this whole hostage situation, I'm really glad it turned out that the U.S. Navy was only "negotiating" with the pirates in order to get some time to get our assets in place. I was really worried that the new administration just didn't get that there are bad people in the world who need to be killed; I'm glad to see that they do recognize this simple truth. In Western culture, kidnapping and piracy have traditionally been capital offenses, and the Somali pirates should make an effort to understand our feelings in this regard. (As you might guess, I'm sick and tired of people saying that we always need to be the ones to make allowances for other cultures.)