Monday, April 13, 2009
RESCUE ON THE HIGH SEAS
Acting with President Obama's authorization, Navy SEALs rescued Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates holding him for ransom. Efforts to negotiate had gone nowhere, and by the end of the fifth day it appeared that Captain Phillips would be be shot. The Navy sharpshooters had secretly parachuted to the fantail of the U.S.S. Bainbridge, where they waited for an opportunity, and when a pirate leveled his AK-47 at Captain Phillips they fired upon the pirates, killing three instantly. A fourth surrendered and was taken into custody.
Captain Richard Phillips, rescued
Captain Phillips, who was resting comfortably, shrugged off the hero label. “The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.” He spoke to his wife, Andrea, and two college-aged children in Underhill, Vermont.
“I share the country’s admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “His courage is a model for all Americans.”
Reuters reports that the Somali pirates were quick to vow revenge over the shooting of their comrades, as well as a French military assault to rescue a yacht on Friday.
"The French and the Americans will regret starting this killing. We do not kill, but take only ransom. We shall do something to anyone we see as French or American from now," Hussein, a pirate, told Reuters by satellite phone.
Piracy is nothing new. In a world where the ranks of the desperately poor grow by the day and the wealth of a few is astronomical, we may be in for more of this terrorism on the high seas. Poverty doesn't excuse it, obviously, but it might help to remember the root cause isn't simply "evil." So far, we've mostly been spared the siege mentality that is commonplace is certain parts of the world. In some countries, the wealthy must live behind barbed wire fences, in patrolled "green zones" and walled neighborhoods, constantly on guard against kidnappers.
Even though this rescue turned out well, pirates plague many nations around the world. At this time, pirates are holding a dozen ships with more than 200 crew members, according to the Malaysia-based International Maritime Bureau.
Somali pirates vow revenge
The Navy is a force of 330,000--and out of that only 2000 are SEALs. The SEALs--short for U.S. Navy SEa, Air and Land forces--are an elite fighting group trained in unconventional warfare, special operations--everything from sea rescue to parachuting to demolition. Assignment to BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/Seals) is conditional on passing the Diver/SEAL Physical Screening Test (PST) which is extremely difficult, and then it just gets harder. BUD/S consists of a three-week 'Indoctrination Course', known as INDOC, followed by three phases, covering physical conditioning (seven weeks), diving (eight weeks), and land warfare (nine weeks) respectively.
The following documentary follows a group training to be SEALs:
Part 2 of SEALS documentary here.
Part 3 is here.
Part 4 is here.
Part 5 is here.