Situation Reports

Here’s an On-Hand Report from the April 2009 Somalia, Maersk Alabama, Pirate Incident

This is the first-hand account from someone on board the USS Boxer…

I’ve been taking notes on facts, speculation and rumors.
What I know is on the eleventh of April, 2009 at 1600 two C17 cargo planes flew over USS Boxer and four parachutes emerged out of the back .
Then out came the boats! Four very fast 1300 hp SWCC’s with radar and guns!
After those were safely extracted, the personnel and SEALs jumped.
About 95 people in all splashed down near the USS Boxer.
They swam to the ship and entered the well-deck.
I spoke with one of the SEALs in the hangar bay as he was stowing his gear He was talking to a younger looking Ops guy with shoulder-length hair and I struck up a conversation with them. They were really friendly.
The older SEAL finished with his bag and reached for a rifle case.
Then he casually unzipped it and pulled out a Mark 416. This is a highly specialized carbine and as he explained “it’s basically an M -4, but made by H&K so it’s better!
It has visible and non-visible lasers and a collapsable 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 my watch.”
“OK, any time you see us over here and just want to chat, feel free!”
“Cool, thanks”
“Any time”

I also found out from the CPO that the guys flew in from VB on C17’s and that 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 it out.
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, as I was making my hourly rounds through the hangar bay, I heard four distant rifle reports and knew exactly what had happened.
There was an orange capsule being towed by USS 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 Momba sa, Kenya and the crew was debriefed by the FBI for some reason.
Captain Phillips was logged on board Boxer at 1836 and one skinny, short, pitiful-looking (and never in a million year 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.

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 in the world.
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 Maersk Alabama is hoisted onto Boxer’s flight de ck by the local crane.

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’ll tell you now, I wouldn’t rather 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 thetop 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,
KEY:
SWCC,  special warfare combatant crewman,  brown water
H&K, Heckler and Koch, famous German weapon’s designer’s world renowned for their popular .45 cal USP (universal service pistol) And other highly precise firearms.

CPO, Chief Petty Officer, USN, E7
VB, Virginia Beach, Virginia, East coast headquarters of Special Warfare.
DDG, Guided Missile Destroyer
Flank, the fastest speed the ship can travel, equal to about 35 knots
RHIB, (rib) Rigid-hulled inflatable boat
STB, Starboard (right)
1MC, numeric designation for the main announcing circuit used on U.S. Navy vessels.
AOR, Area Of Responsibly, the confines w ithin which we roam.

David Harlow
Rear Admiral,U.S. Navy, (Ret)

All-Female Marine Team Conducts First Mission in Southern Afghanistan

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Monty Burton

Special to American Forces Press Service…

Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment – the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan – now have a special group of people to help them complete their mission in Afghanistan.

The task force’s all-female Marine team is interacting with the Afghan female population in southern Afghanistan – a task considered culturally unacceptable for the male Marines operating there. A similar program has been used in combat operations in Iraq, but this is the first time Marine forces in Afghanistan have employed the concept, officials said.  Marine Corps Capt. Mike Hoffman, commanding officer of 3/8’s Company 1, said the all-female team is an important asset for his Marines. “[The team] provides us access to half of the population that we normally do not have access to,” Hoffman said. “They did extremely well interacting with the female villagers.”

Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Johanna Shaffer, the team leader, said their first mission, a cordon-and-search operation in support of Operation Pathfinder, was very successful. “We were accepted by both the men and women villagers and were able to obtain valuable information about the way they lived and what they thought about the Marine Corps operating in the area,” Shaffer said.

During the mission, the female Marines donned brightly colored head and neck scarves as a sign of cultural respect to the Afghan women. “The scarves showed the Afghan women that we were women too, and we respect their culture,” Shaffer said. “They automatically felt more comfortable with us.  They showed us their homes, and even though they didn’t have much, they were still very generous to us.  They accepted us as sisters, and we’re glad that we were here to help them.”

Although Afghan women tend to be more reserved than Afghan men, they still have a large influence on their children, Shaffer said, so engaging with them is important. “If the women know we are here to help them, they will likely pass that on to their children,” she said. “If the children have a positive perspective of alliance forces, they will be less likely to join insurgent groups or participate in insurgent activities.”

Hoffman said the female Marines also were accepted by the village men. “They were not opposed by the villagers,” Hoffman said. “They had no problem allowing [the team] the chance to interact with their women.”

The concept employed by her team varies greatly from the program in Iraq because of  differences in Afghan culture, Shaffer said. “The cultural background here is completely different than that of Iraq,” Shaffer said. “Women here are more timid than in Iraq. There is less of a chance that an Afghan women would try to harm us, because they understand that we are here to help them.

“We also do not know much about the daily life of Afghan women,” she continued. “This provides us not only the opportunity to learn about the women, but also to build and maintain faith and trust of the Afghan women.”

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Monty Burton serves with Special Purpose
Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan.

Alison Lighthall, RN, BSN, MSN
Deployment Mental Health Consultant
Soldier Readiness Center
Bldg 1042, Rm 114
Fort Carson, CO  80913
(719) 243-7126 Army cell
(719) 526-8706 Desk

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