Another Perspective On The Navy Seals Rescue Of Captain Phillips

This is an unsubstantiated account from an established member of a forum who claims to have gotten the full poop from some Navy Seals pals in Virginia Beach. He wanted to know why the ordeal dragged on for four days. The answer he got is very unflattering toward the President:

Philips’ first leap into the warm, dark water of the Indian Ocean hadn’t worked out as well. With the
Bainbridge in range and a rescue by his country’s Navy possible, Philips threw himself off of his
lifeboat prison, enabling Navy shooters onboard the destroyer a clear shot at his captors — and none
was taken.

The guidance from National Command Authority — the president of the United States,
Barack Obama — had been clear: a peaceful solution was the only acceptable outcome to this standoff
unless the hostage’s life was in clear, extreme danger.

The next day, a small Navy boat approaching the floating raft was fired on by the Somali pirates — and
again no fire was returned and no pirates killed. This was again due to the cautious stance assumed by
Navy personnel thanks to the combination of a lack of clear guidance from Washington and a mandate
from the commander in chief’s staff not to act until Obama, a man with no background of dealing with
such issues and no track record of decisiveness, decided that any outcome other than a “peaceful
solution” would be acceptable.

After taking fire from the Somali kidnappers again Saturday night, the on-scene commander decided
he’d had enough.

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 AK47 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.

There is upside, downside, and spinside to the series of events over the last week that culminated in
yesterday’s dramatic rescue of an American hostage.

Almost immediately following word of the rescue, the Obama administration and its supporters claimed
victory against pirates in the Indian Ocean and [1] declared that the dramatic end to the standoff put
paid to questions of the inexperienced president’s toughness and decisiveness.

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.

This version correlates with the official version of events as reported in articles like this one from Times Online:

The 20-man crew of the Maersk Alabama said that the 508ft (155m) container ship, carrying food aid to Mombasa in Kenya, had been harassed by pirates for a week before the vessel was boarded on Wednesday, April 8, more than 300 miles (500km) off the Somali coast. Four pirates in a fast-moving skiff boarded the cargo ship with grappling irons at about 7.15am local time amid a hail of gun-fire into the air.


The USS Bainbridge, on pirate patrol 300 miles away at the time of the attack, arrived on Thursday morning. As it stalked the lifeboat at about midnight Captain Phillips tried to escape by jumping into the sea and swimming towards the warship. Before the US Navy could react the pirates fired shots, leapt in after Captain Phillips and recaptured him. The incident was reportedly captured on video by a circling US drone.

On Friday night President Obama gave authority to use lethal force to save the life of Captain Phillips. The next night the Seals arrived.


The Seal sharpshooters reportedly had many opportunities to shoot but held fire because they believed that Captain Phillips was not in imminent danger. On Sunday morning the pirate wounded by the ice pick asked to come on board the USS Bainbridge. The surrendering pirate reportedly told officers that the pirates were ready to kill their captive and demanded a ransom.

The lifeboat was drifting closer to the hostile Somali coast where the hostage could have been taken to a stronghold. When the weather deteriorated on Sunday US Navy negotiators offered to tow the drifting lifeboat to calmer waters. The USS Bainbridge had attached a 200ft towline but reeled it in slowly until the lifeboat was only 75ft behind the warship.

As darkness fell at 7.19pm on Sunday the snipers, watching through their night-vision rifle scopes, saw two pirates poke their heads out of a lifeboat hatch. The third, visible through a window, pointed his AK47 at Captain Phillips’ back.

ABC News reported that Captain Phillips had moved to one side of the lifeboat to relieve himself, giving the sharpshooters clean shots. Commander Frank Castellano, the captain of the USS Bainbridge, decided that the American hostage was in imminent danger andgave the order to fire. The snipers each took a single shot, killing all three pirates immediately, officials said. “This is something that was not overly complicated,” Mr Cummings said. “The distance was not that far. A few things made it more difficult. They were shooting a moving target from a moving platform, and you need a lot of patience too. On something like this they probably had to go for head shots . . . And they had to do it simultaneously.”

It’s worth noting that when Captain Phillips arrived home in Vermont to a hero’s welcome he thanked the Navy Seals and his crew.

But no thanks in the offing for Obama’s purported heroic willingness to make the “tough decision” to use lethal force.

Hat tip: Atlas shrugs


Here’s yet another perspective on the devastating implications of the rules of engagement employed during the hostage crisis.


On the other hand…

a retired Marine Corps four-star general disputes the above account, telling the Washington Times that that the Navy Seals rescue of Captain Phillips was a “textbook operation”, not curtailed at all by the Commander in Chief.

I’m not sure what part of the internet account he disputes, as it correlates with what he says, and what contemporary media accounts reported. The internet perspective simply expressed the frustration of the Navy Seals as retold by the anonymous forum poster who reported that they felt stymied by the rules of engagement, (which the General did not dispute).

The ROA did call for a peaceful conclusion unless the Captain’s life was in danger, and as they were getting nearer to the Somali coast, without decisive action,  the pirates could have gotten away with taking Phillips hostage in Somalia.


One more perspective appears at Free Republic.

Your “Real” story is not exactly the way I heard it, and probably has a few political twists thrown in to stir the pot. Rather than me trying to correct it, I’ll just tell you what I found out from my contacts at NSWC Norfolk and at SOCOM Tampa.

First though, let me orient you to familiarize you with the “terrain.”

Keep reading.

Take it for what it’s worth. Maybe we’ll never know the whole story.


What perfect timing!  A new high seas adventure series is due out this summer: Bait Boat.