Saturday, April 18, 2009

Account of the Rescue - Somali Pirates

USS Boxer, LHD 4

I received this from a senior enlisted man on the USS Boxer

I've been taking notes on facts and (well noted) speculation and rumors. What I do know is that on 11 April 2009 at 1600 two C-17 cargo planes flew over Boxer and out of the back four parachutes emerged.  Then came the boats! Four very fast 1300 hp SWCC boats with radar and guns! After those were safely extracted the personnel and SEALs jumped. About 95 people in all arrived in the water near Boxer, Swam to the ship and entered the well-deck.

I spoke with some of the SEALs in the hangar bay where they are staging their gear for the time being. He was rearranging his gear and talking to a younger looking Ops guy with shoulder-length hair and a feeble semblance of a beard. I struck up a conversation with them and they're really friendly.  The older SEAL finished with his bag and reached for a rifle case casually unzipped it and pulled out a Mark 416 a highly specialized carbine and as he explained "it's basically an M-4, but made by H&K so it's better!" "Visible and non-visible lasers, collapsible stock. It's nice." "And is that an advanced armament suppressor?"  I asked. "Yeah that just makes it sound better, and the ladies love it!"

I asked him if it's the coolest job in the Navy. "Well, I haven't ever flown an F-18 off a carrier, but yeah, pretty much!" "You guys don't wear any insignia." "We don't wear it, but we're still in the Navy." "I know that but what's with that?" "Well I'm a Chief, and he is a second-class" "Oh, OK"

"So, Chief, did you come in as a SEAL?" "Yep, you don't have to be formal, that's why we don't wear it. It gets in the way and besides, we know who's in charge."

"Well I have to get back to watch." "OK, any time you see us over here and just want to chat and shoot the shit, feel free!" "Cool, thanks" "Any time"

I also found out from the CPO that the guys flew in from VB on C-17s and that it took 18 hours! They parachuted into the ocean! That's' cool as hell!

At 2100 on Saturday we were headed for the area where the USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) was already in position several hundred miles east off of Somalia's coast. And on Sunday there were so many parts of our engine that were broken from traveling at flank speed (full Bendix) that we stopped the shaft, engaged the jacking gear, pinned the gear and tagged out the motherfucker! I spent three watches fabricating parts, helping replace sight-flow indicators on journal bearings and running around the ship.

On Easter Sunday night, at around 1530 I was making my hourly rounds through the hangar bay and heard four distant rifle reports and knew exactly what happened. There was an orange capsule being towed by Bainbridge. Two SEAL snipers laying prone on the fantail with Barrett .50 cal rifles pointed at the small craft.

CAPT. Richard Phillips of Vermont was swimming toward the RHIB sitting close to the lifeboat. When the Navy said that we want to see proof of life the good captain jumped into the water and started to draw fire from the pirates. The snipers fired.

I had to return to my watch station and at close of business I assumed my next watch: CNN's live broadcast of speculation and grievous bullshit! I have to decipher all of this crap for you.

At 2300 Africa time, the Maersk Alabama safely docked in Mombasa, Kenya and the crew was debriefed by the FBI for some reason. Captain Phillips was logged onboard Boxer at 1836 and one skinny, short, pitiful-looking (and never in a million years is he sixteen) pirate, who was escorted, handcuffed despite the wounds, wearing blacked out ski goggles, through the hangar bay by like 20 marines and MA's. He has asked for amnesty. He'll probably get a UN trial for international piracy.

"We always laugh and joke about pirates onboard and don't realize that this is one of the world's most serious crimes!"

Me, four hours ago.



Monday, APR 13, 2009.

At 0930 USS Boxer sits of the coast of Somalia and the Bainbridge is at her stern on the port side in tow, the life boat containing three lifeless pirates dispatched into oblivion by the best sharpshooters the world around. The corpses are transferred under the heaviest morgue security I've seen since President Ford's funeral to the USS Boxer's chilled holding facility.

At 1000 the lifeboat from Alabama is hoisted onto Boxer's flight deck by the local crane. I was there when the boat arrived onboard. Standing next to some chopper refueling buddies and joking about the incident. "Hey, what's orange, full of blood and hanging from a crane?" "What?" "That boat that some pirates got smoked in."

Probably the most interesting Easter I've ever spent!

Looking closely at the boat, I see four large bullet holes on the STB side where "justice" entered the pirate's mind's, some brain matter sloshed around in the boat. I was told before I left San Diego that I would hate the Boxer, I tell you now, I wouldn't want to be on any other ship. Broken parts and all - I like it.

1025 "Maersk Alabama, Departing." is heard over the 1MC. The name of the ship is used to describe the Captain as he is at the top of the command. Personal speculation and trusted brass scuttlebutt says that our AOR has shifted from the Gulf of Aden where there aren't any pirates, to where we sit now. 16 ships and 200 hostages from various countries still remain   stranded...not for long, I predict.

As always, keeping it real on the high seas with the US Navy, MMFN (NAME REDACTED) USS Boxer, Somalia


WoFat said...


Anonymous said...

Great post! I am going to link to it.

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