How To: Take Down Somali Pirates

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Why is David Axe writing about how to take down Somali pirates?

The U.S. Navy destroyer Howard continues to shadow the Ukrainian vessel Faina, which Somali pirates seized last week. Faina is loaded with around three dozen T-72 tanks and other weapons reportedly bound for Kenya. “Howard is on-station,” Commander Curtis Goodnight, Howard‘s skipper, told a Navy reporter. “My crew is actively monitoring the situation.” The destroyer has even established unspecified “bridge-to-bridge” comms with the hijacked ship.

What might the Navy do if ordered to secure the seized weapons? Two recent French anti-piracy raids might offer a preview. In one raid in April, French commandos in helicopters, operating from ships, chased pirates onto land. A sniper in one chopper shot out the engines of the pirates’ vehicles; another chopper landed commandos to grab six of the startled Somalis.

In another raid in September, French commandos parachuted into the water near a hijacked yacht, under the cover of darkness, and swam a short distance to board, unseen. They shot dead one pirate, captured others and freed the yacht’s owners.

So if the Pentagon decides to take out the Faina pirates, how’s it going to go down? Four words: Djibouti (where U.S. Special Operations Command has a base north of Somalia), helicopters, Navy SEALs.

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