Inside scoop on Maersk Alabama shoot?

I’m not a journalist, therefore I have the ability to speculate and post information from questionable sources. You can take it or leave it. With that said, I’ve been thinking about what happened on Easter Sunday in the Indian Ocean where three Navy personnel shot and killed three pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips hostage in that lifeboat.

My speculation, comments and questions. Click on the images to enlarge, all courtesy Blackfive.

  • lifeboat-2I find it hard to understand how all three of the kidnappers could be visible – above the shoulders, heads sticking out of the lifeboat – and it be clear to snipers that one of the kidnappers was about to shoot Phillips. These lifeboats are not designed to provide passengers a great view, nor would snipers be able to see in.
  • My guess is that the kidnappers do not have good muzzle control and frequently swept or pointed their rifles at Phillips – and most likely each other – on a regular basis. (Phillips was in imminent danger every sweep of the barrel.)
  • A re-creation of the “rescue” by CBS News showed three kidnappers were in view, one via the front hatch, one out the side and the other was visible – gun to the head of Phillips – through the rear hatch. The re-creation made it seem the lifeboat was being towed from the stern, which would be very strange if not completely stupid since the rudder would cause all sorts of havoc.
  • Again, courtesy Blackfive, we have what looks to be a bullet through the glass – but it is on the starboard side of the boat. This could be from a round shot at another time, or maybe not a round at all. Click on image for a bigger view.
  • There is no side hatch on the lifeboat for the Maersk Alabama – capacity 28 – only the rear hatch and the smaller front hatch. The pictures we have clearly show all sides of the lifeboat.
  • Could one kidnapper have his head stuck out of the front hatch, one be visible – standing up – at the windows, and the third in view from the rear hatch? That could mean all three shots were taken from three different locations – not just from the fantail.
  • If Phillips was sitting down in a seat, this would protect him from the shots as the kidnappers stood.

lifeboat-4 lifeboat-3

Since they were towing the lifeboat in an assumed normal matter – from the bow – how did the Navy personnel shoot all three kidnappers from the fantail of the Bainbridge? How could they tell that Phillips was in eminent danger? Only if the rear hatch was open and eyes were able to see inside would they know Phillips was in imminent danger. Heck, he was in danger the entire time.

No matter – I’m perfectly happy with the results, but who is twisting this story and will it become a big deal when the Somalia teen is brought to New York for piracy on the high seas?

Internet Speculation

Yes, this information came from the Internet, and you can consider it speculation if you’d like. I’ve cleaned up the text (language) from the original.

Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:

  • [President Obama] wouldn’t authorize the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams) to the scene for 36 hours going against [on scene commander] OSC recommendation.
  • Once they arrived, [Obama] imposed restrictions on their [rules of engagement] ROE that they couldn’t do anything unless the hostage’s life [Phillips] was in “imminent” danger.
  • The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the [kidnappers] all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction.
  • When the navy [ridged inflatable boat] RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the [kidnappers] were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.
  • [Obama] specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge captain and SEAL teams.
  • Bainbridge captain and SEAL team commander finally decide they have the Op Area and [Outer Continental Shelf?] OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. Four hours later, three dead [kidnappers].
  • [Obama] immediately claims credit for his “daring and decisive” behavior.

The e-mail goes on to reference an account written by Jeff Emanuel, that seems to be right on the money. Emanuel is a professional writer and editor with a military background. Do read his entire post, but here is a brief excerpt.

… Keeping his authority to act in the case of a clear and present danger to the hostage’s life and having heard nothing from Washington since yet another request to mount a rescue operation had been denied the day before, the Navy officer – unnamed
in all media reports to date – decided the AK 47 one captor had leveled at Philips’ back was a threat to the hostage’s life and ordered the NSWC team to take their shots.

Three rounds downrange later, all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe. …

Despite the Obama administration’s (and its sycophants’) attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort. What should have been a standoff lasting only hours – as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC operators to steam to the location – became an embarrassing four day and counting standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship.

Capt. Phillips has just arrived at home in Vermont and there was a short meet-the-media event.



7 replies
  1. Darlene
    Darlene says:

    Lots of questions, valid ones I would say, and few answers.  The reality is … since Obama was involved, the media will sweep any questions aside.  The real issue to me is the journalism in general.  Since we have learned that main stream media has been and continues to be in the pocket of the current administration, I have found myself wondering, just where will we go to find the real facts of any event over the next few years.  While I felt during the Bush Administration they scrutinized every word and action, this one seems to simply get a pass.  Scary to me that we are now in sort of third war, for information.

  2. Erik Blazynski
    Erik Blazynski says:

    you know what? I was saying on Monday that something is not right about this story.

    If they killed 3/4 why did't the 4th kill the hostage?

    If they were so dangerous how does the navy ship get to towing this life boat  just 30 yards from the stern.

    This pirate activity happens all the time suddenly we are interested and the president has to get involved.

    Not taking anything away from the captain, but if there is no massive press coverage does the president even get involved?  Do you know how many ops out military carries out in a year that are more complicated than this? Now suddenly the president needs to get involved in this seemingly low level decision?

    Now lets think about the timing. The president goes on his apology tour, bows to the king of Saudi Arabia. A takes a lot of heat for showing the US as a bunch of wusses. Then immediately comes back and shows what a great leader he is because he tells them to shoot.  In my opinion, the president's involvement was MORE dangerous than some lower level person just making the decision to kill them.

    I am glad that you brought this up Steve.

  3. Steve McGough
    Steve McGough says:

    One report I heard was that the fourth gave up and was getting medical treatment – not negotiating. I think it's as simple as a commander making the on-scene decision to end all of the crap. Three idiots with a AKs and a couple of pistols needed to be dispatched and it was done.

  4. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    Interesting read from different perspectives.  What I wondered was if the navy seals had approached the boat from underwater, in some kind of "submersive" (not subversive) form.  But, obviously, they don't want to publicize the manner in which they dispatched the pirates.  Again, if the media really knew what happened, the pirates would know 2 minutes later, and take counter-measures.  Again, I say the international community (the U.S.) needs to sink all the boats on the Somali coastline.

  5. Wayne SW
    Wayne SW says:

    I'm not quite sure of your point Steve.  Coverup?  Secret weapon?  Conspiracy?   To suggest that we are not getting the true facts and information regarding the events leading up to killing 3 pirates is obvious.  In the days leading up to the rescue, none of the media were on the same page.  That usually means that they were filling in the blanks on their own.  I don't think that we will ever know the accurate details.  Hell, did the captain jump in the water a 2nd time?  Does anyone really know?  We were told that the life boat was drifting, only 20 miles from the coast…..only to hear that the life boat was being towed…..what's up with that?

  6. Steve McGough
    Steve McGough says:

    I'm not suggesting a cover up or conspiracy at all. I took what the media reported and suggested it did not happen that way. Actually, I'm quite certain it did not happen that way (all three heads visible – all three head shots from the fantail – done).

    I tend to think that NCA was thinking about political ramifications of the Navy taking on the "poor" pirates, and the commander on the scene just said "screw this" and ended it.

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