Never Quit

The US Navy SEALs have rescued Captain Phillips. He jumped overboard for a second time, and the SEALs (probably, according to my sources, with their “ears on the lifeboat’s hull” and using Drager rebreathers to avoid showing bubbles) shot and killed the pirates in the lifeboat before they could recapture him as they did before.

The situation, in which a ragtag band of men in a lifeboat brought the mighty US military to a days-long standoff, has been a stark example of the difficulty of such asymmetrical engagements. As Galrahn at Information Dissemination explained it a few days ago:

To give some sense of the situation, the USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) is powerful enough of a warship that it could sink every ship in that entire region, destroy every single pirate facility associated with the clan of hijackers involved in the current incident, and blow every aircraft in that region out of the sky.

But this incredibly powerful warship has very few options when the choices don’t include blowing up a specific target. Our restrictive policy that limits the rules of engagement is not compatible with the US Navy technologies that are designed by requirement to blow stuff up. If we are unwilling to adjust our policy to align them with the capabilities of our existing technologies, the US Navy must develop technologies that better align with the policies of our nations leaders. This would, in theory, be part of developing a realistic littoral strategy for surface warfare that addresses littoral challenges during BOTH peacetime and wartime. Surface Warfare is in dire need of new ideas, and the evidence suggests better leadership, or more guidance from leadership, might be needed as well.

Perhaps the game in these waters is changing. Readers who have been following this topic will probably find this article, by one “Herschel Smith”, interesting.

By all accounts Richard Phillips, who offered himself to the pirates in exchange for his crew, and whose spirit remained indomitable throughout his ordeal, is a truly remarkable man, and an authentic American hero. His defiance and resolve in the face of unimaginable adversity should be an example and inspiration for us all.

[Correction: It appears that it was snipers aboard the Bainbridge, not SEALs in the water, who took out the pirates. Each one was, according to DOD, shot in the head.]

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2 Comments

  1. Kevin Kim says

    Yes, this was amazing news, and kudos to the powers that be for green-lighting this. I wonder what’s going on with the other hostages, though — the ones from other countries who are being held on different boats. Here’s hoping they end up OK, too.

    Kevin

    Posted April 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  2. I figured that the Navy Seals would go into action sometime and free this brave man.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted April 12, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink