Posted on April 13, 2009. Filed under: News And Politics... |

On Easter Sunday, along with the holy celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, there was also another cause for celebration (video and story follows)–Captain Richard Phillips was freed, thanks to the heroic efforts of the Navy and SEALs, and I’m sure with a lot of divine intervention.  This story is producing a lot of other heroes…Captain Phillips put his own life on the line so that his crew could be released.  His crew also fought the good fight–one crew member stabbed one of the pirates in the hand.  Yesterday, U.S. snipers killed three Somali pirates and rescued Captain Phillips who had been held for five days aboard a lifeboat.  Two days earlier, French snipers killed two Somali pirates and commandos stormed a captured yacht to arrest three others and free four French hostages.  One hostage died in that operation.

Somali pirates now vow to target American and French ships following the successful rescue operations.  Attacks have surged this past month as pirates strike off the east coast of Somalia to avoid naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden, where about one-tenth of world trade passes to use the Suez Canal.  Shipowners “are reluctant to arm crew or take too many steps onboard vessels for fear of ratcheting things up, introducing the element of violence,” Lawrence Rutkowski, vice chairman of New York Maritime Association, said in a phone interview. “The risk of loss of life is heightened.”

Thank God this story had a happy ending, but why didn’t our government act sooner than 5 days, especially since pirates in that same area and surrounding areas have been attacking ships from around the world, most recently from France and England, with dire consequences?  Piracy has escalated, and now these pirates are saying that they have vendettas against the United States and France.  While the actions of the Navy were certainly justified, the reaction from Obama was recklessly stalled.  That’s just the kind of weakness that terrorists thrive on.  He needs to forego the frivolity that he’s been aggressively embracing and concentrate on interests other than his own…
Queen Bee

3 ‘phenomenal shots’ ended pirate hostage crisis

(CNN) — In the end, it was a single moment that brought the hostage crisis to its dramatic finish.

Capt. Richard Phillips, right, stands with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Frank Castellano after Phillips’ rescue Sunday.

Three gunshots. All three fatal. Fired in the dark by three specially trained U.S. Navy SEALs as the pirates’ boat rocked in the water off Somalia.

"Phenomenal shots — 75 feet away," said Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, who oversees the region.

A senior defense official told CNN that each was a shot to the head.

Gortney, in an interview Monday with CNN’s "American Morning," described critical steps that led to the rescue of U.S. Capt. Richard Phillips, who was taken by pirates after they boarded his merchant ship, the Maersk Alabama, east of Somalia on Wednesday.

Four pirates had been holding Phillips in a small lifeboat, which had run out of fuel. "One of their pirates had left the lifeboat, needed medical attention and jumped onto one of our inflatable boats," Gortney said. Watch Gortney describe how SEALs shot pirates »

The pirate’s need for medical help was a credit to the Maersk’s crew. When the pirates first boarded their vessel, a tussle ensued, during which one of the crewmen stabbed the pirate in the hand. Four days later, the pirate’s departure from the lifeboat to accept U.S. medical help — and try to negotiate the captive’s release — left only three for the U.S. snipers to keep their eyes on.

The three were "tired," Gortney said. "The sea state was picking up. They agreed for us to tow them into little better waters as the ship was bouncing around. It was very tense."

The on-scene U.S. commander of the USS Bainbridge, which had come to try to negotiate the captain’s release, could see the three remaining pirates "were very, very intense. One of them held his AK-47 in the back of the captain. We were always concerned about the imminent danger to the captain."

The pirates had repeatedly threatened to kill Phillips, Gortney said.

A Navy SEAL team had parachuted in and taken up positions on the Bainbridge’s back deck.

The military had orders from President Obama authorizing lethal force if there was imminent danger. Watch how rescue played out hour by hour »

"At one point, as uncomfortable as the pirates were, they exposed themselves where there was an opportunity," Gortney said.

He gave details of that "exposure" at a news conference Sunday. He said two of the pirates had their heads and shoulders exposed, while the third was visible in the boat’s pilot house, through a window.

"The on-scene commander saw that one of the pirates still held that AK-47, was very, very concerned for the captain’s life — and he ordered the shots to be taken," Gortney told CNN on Monday.

Even with the small boat "moving up and down a couple of feet," the SEALs hit their targets. "Remarkable marksmanship," Gortney said.

The moment came at 7:19 p.m. (12:19 p.m. ET) Sunday — after sundown, military officials say.

In the minutes after, a special operations team shimmied along the tow rope to the lifeboat, confirmed that three pirates had been killed, and took Phillips back to the Navy ships that had gathered nearby.

The fourth pirate was taken into custody.

"These guys [the SEALs] are very well trained, they have a lot of experience and there has to be a lot of communication between the shooters and the people making the decision that they all three had shots, that they could make their shots successfully," retired U.S. Navy SEAL Dick Couch said on "American Morning."

He added, "Credit that on-scene commander with making a timely decision."


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