Wednesday, December 11, 2013

3 shots, 3 kills – A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, & Dangerous Days at Sea

I had posted this on my toy blog on August 4, 2009 (and it has already garnered 19,700 page views) but with the release and screening of the recent film "Captain Phillips", I think it's worth to bring it up again :) "Captain Phillips" is a 2013 American action thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The film tells how merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean during the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009 led by Abduwali Muse. The screenplay by Billy Ray is based upon the book, A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea (2010), by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty.

The film covers more on the events that occur before the SEAL Team's arrival while my toy blog post was more centered on the men who had only one chance to get everything right the first time.

As published on August 4, 2009:
Reported in The Straits Times today: A five-day hostage drama involving US ship captain Richard Phillips ended on Sunday when US Navy SEALs shot dead three of the four Somali pirates. In a surprise night-time assault on Easter Sunday, US Navy SEAL snipers shot and killed the three pirates holding US cargo ship Captain Richard Phillips (the fourth pirate only survived because he wasn't on the boat), effectively ending a five-day hostage drama.

The US operation, personally approved by US President Barack Obama, had been carried out after negotiations with the three gunmen became heated. On Sunday evening, a split-second decision was taken for the snipers to shoot down the pirates. Vice-Adm Gortney said one of the pirates had pointed an AK-47 at the back of Capt Phillips, who was tied up and in imminent danger of being killed.

According to CNN, the navy SEAL snipers were brought in earlier by chopper and dropped into the ocean behind the USS Bainbridge warship, which had rushed to the hostages' rescue. Capt Phillips had surrendered himself to the pirates to safeguard his 19 crew members when the pirates hijacked his ship, the Maersk Alabama, last Wednesday.

From site, I found out that there are three types of sniper rifles the USN SEALs use. They might not have used all three for the kills but here are the three types of sniper rifles SEALs prefer, in 1/6 scale of course :) Scroll down to see the pictures

M82A1 Heavy Sniper Rifle - a high-powered heavy sniper rifle used primarily against targets like radar cabins, trucks and parked aircraft. It is known as the “Light Fifty” for its .50 caliber BMG (12.7 mm) load. This short-recoil, semi-automatic rifle has a long effective range, (record shot of 2,500 meters) and high energy. It also uses highly-effective ammunition, and can easily penetrate Type IV body armor, almost all building materials, hard armors, and level 8 ballistic glass (the strongest available). The Navy SEALs used the M82A1 extensively in Somalia in 1993 against enemy “technical” vehicles filled with armed outlaws.

MK11 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) - The US Navy MK11 Mod 0 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) is based on the highly-accurate SR-25 automatic rifle. It was originally conceived and constructed to meet a requirement placed by the Navy SEALs. The MK11 is a highly accurate and durable, precision semi-automatic sniper rifle that operates like an M16 or M4A1, and can deliver a 7.62mm round out to 1,500 yards. Due to its high degree of accuracy, (.5 inch MOA), it is has won acceptance by US Special Operations Forces as one of the finest semi-automatic sniper rifles in the world.

The M14 is a magazine-fed, gas-operated semi-automatic 7.62mm (.30-caliber) rifle still used by the Navy SEALs. It deploys a 20-round magazine and has an effective range well beyond 500 meters at a rate of 750 rounds per minute. Navy SEALs started using modified M14s as sniper rifles as early as Vietnam. They have used them in Afghanistan and Iraq, primarily as designated marksman and sniper rifles. Navy SEALs keep the M14 in inventory due to its excellent accuracy, effectiveness at long range, and strong takedown capabilities of the 7.62mm round.

Defence officials said the US military was considering attacks on Somali pirate bases on land and aid the people there to help stop the hijacking of ships off Africa's coast. This was covered in an earlier post - UN gives green light to land ops in Somalia (see link here).

It has since been confirmed that the Mark 11 Mod 0 (SR-25) sniper rifle was indeed the rifle used to kill the Somali pirates.


cosmicbaby said...

is funny how pirates like such who are basically poor starving folks with nothing to lose & with minimal or no military training need to be taken out by highly & expensively trained SEALs... One thing that terrorist & pirates never seem to learn... WEAR KEVLAR PROTECTIVE GEAR!

alex teo said...

no easy feat, i think, aiming for the head shots with the pirates bobbing up and down with the boat in the rough sea and all 3 at the same time ;>

thanks, pressure vessels, hope you come back for more :)