Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Pirate Answer - Part II [W. Thomas Smith Jr.]
Was just discussing this very same thing with one of my Navy sources at the Pentagon, and he pointed out three reasons why we did not pursue the pirate-captured Danish ship when it sailed from international waters into Somali waters:
First, as I said earlier, we respect "the law of the sea" and we do not enter the territorial waters of another state — if you can call Somalia a legitimate state — without invitation.
Second, the U.S. ship involved was an amphibious landing vessel designed to deliver Marines ashore. It has onboard weapons systems capable of defending itself, but it is not designed to attack and pursue other ships. It's not a destroyer or a cruiser.
Third, by the time the U.S. ship came upon the Danish ship, the situation had "matured" to the point that it was no longer a pirate attack, but a hostage situation with bad guys and good guys aboard. Also, sinking the ship was out of the question (and the U.S. ship didn't have the capability of sinking it anyway).
Sure, there were special operations Marines aboard the U.S. ship who could have been used to board the vessel, but that would take time. They would need a detailed outline of the ship's interior. Helicopters would have to come into play, and lots of other particulars. And to move to that stage would really be the responsibility of the Danish Navy unless they requested our assistance in such an operation.
Keep in mind, after we fired the warning shots and destroyed the skiffs, our next steps were limited in the time allowed. The best the U.S. ship could do was follow and watch. And a new variable was thrown into the mix when the Danish ship left international waters.
We had other means of tracking the Danish ship — satellites and aircraft — so the U.S. ship was directed to continue on its original course.
After I got off the phone with the Pentagon, my friend, retired Navy captain Lou Colbus phoned and confirmed what I'm just now telling you.
Lou knows. Among his myriad commands in the Navy, he skippered a destroyer squadron.
Editor’s note: Please see this note.
06/27 11:52 AMShare