Many will say the White House didn’t do everything right when it came to the rescue of Capatain Phillips; but the U.S. Navy sure did a great job!
As former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton pointed out on Fox News on Sunday night, “This is not a law enforcement matter.” He was speaking out against the Obama Administration that plans to prosecute the surviving pirate in the Phillips Affair. Bolton favors a raid into the pirate stonghold as we recommeneded here on this site…
The freedom of Captain Phillips is a great and good thing but now how does the U.S. deter and prevent further acts of piracy? That is the issue….
President Obama had previously authorized the use of force if the commander on the scene believed the captain’s life was in danger, so they fired, Admiral Gortney said. The lifeboat was about 100 feet from the Bainbridge when the shots were fired, shortly after 7 p.m. Somalia time (seven hours ahead of Eastern time). Asked where Captain Phillips was at the time the shots were fired, Admiral Gortney said he was not sure but that he had to be less than 18 feet away, the length of the lifeboat.
Captain Philips said, “The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.”
From the Wall Street Journal:
U.S. sharpshooters killed three pirates holding Capt. Phillips after concluding that he was in “imminent danger,” a U.S. commander said.
Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of all naval forces in the Middle East, told a Pentagon news conference that the USS Bainbridge had been towing the lifeboat holding the pirates and Capt. Phillips into calmer waters when Navy Seal sharpshooters, positioned at the tail of the ship, saw the head and shoulders of the three remaining pirates, with one of them pointing an AK-47 machine gun at the head of Capt. Phillips.
Adm. Gortney said the Navy officer in charge of the operation ordered the pirates to be fired upon.
Before the incident, Adm. Gortney said U.S. officials had hoped to resolve the standoff peacefully. A fourth pirate was on the Bainbridge as part of hostage negotiation talks. But Adm. Gortney said tensions escalated between the pirates and negotiators, prompting commanders to believe Capt. Phillips, who was tied up on the lifeboat, was at risk of getting killed.
Adm. Gortney said he had received standing orders from President Barack Obama to rescue Capt. Phillips if the hostage’s life appeared in danger, and the officers on the ship acted on that authority. No specific order from higher command came signing off on the shooting.
Sailors on the USS Bainbridge had been in regular contact with the four pirates and Capt. Phillips, shuttling food, water and clean clothes to the lifeboat aboard a small inflatable boat throughout the standoff.
Adm. Gortney said he could not confirm early reports that Capt. Phillips had prompted the final showdown by jumping from the life boat. He said the lifeboat was only about 25 meters behind the Bainbridge during the towing, giving the sharpshooters a better view of the boat.
“It got heated and the on-scene commander interpreted hostile intent,” Adm. Gortney said.
This Sunday, April 12, 2009 photo released by the U.S. Navy, shows Maersk-Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips, right, standing alongside Cmdr. Frank Castellano, commanding officer of the USS Bainbridge, after being rescued by U.S. Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo)