Navy foiled an attempted piracy event in the Arabian Sea yesterday:
The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, which were conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, received a distress call at about 10:30 a.m. local time Thursday from the Falcon Trader II, a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel. It reported that suspected pirates in a small skiff were attempting to board the vessel.
A subsequent message from the Falcon Trader II reported that pirates had boarded, and that the crew had secured themselves in a safe room, from which they maintained control over the ship’s steering and propulsion.
The Enterprise and Leyte Gulf each deployed a helicopter to investigate. At the scene, the Enterprise’s HS-11 helicopter fired warning shots to dissuade the pirates from continuing their attack. Two pirates were witnessed jumping off the bow of the Falcon Trader II into their skiff and fled, pursued by the HS-11.
The pirates shot small weapons fire at the helicopter as the skiff attempted to rendezvous with a larger vessel suspected to be its “mother ship.” The Navy helicopter and its crew were unharmed, and returned to the hijack scene to continue reconnaissance.
I’m not a huge fan of warning shots myself – plunging fire into the sea is an inefficient use of scarce resources. But it seems to me that, once the pirates had shot back, the rules of engagement ought to have allowed fire for effect.
There are two ways to neutralize a threat: Withdrawing an armed helicopter to a safe distance is not the Navy way.
Well, not in the old Navy anyway.