Thursday, February 13, 2014

NatGeo: "Hunt for Somali Pirates" supplements "Captain Phillips"

National Geographic’s 2011 documentary “Hunt for Somali Pirates” certainly complements the film “Captain Phillips” (Movies blog, Oct. 11, 2013).  Narrated by Erik Thompson, it focuses on the Navy Seal underwater and sniper training and the set up to end the kidnapping incident (the kidnapping of Captain Phillips from the Maersk Alabama by teenage Somali pirates in April, 2009).  The link for the documentary (available on Netflix, running 43 minutes, is (website url)  here

The film notes that the Somali village elders washed their hands of the teenage pirates after they got caught.
The film showed the Basic Underwater Demolition Training (BUDTS), and the Seal sniper training, but 70% even of the Seals fail the training.
The SEAL sniper team stayed in sitting position on the Bainbridge for 18 hours before taking out three of the four pirates.  The boat was 40 yards away, but bobbing the water, and the pirates could be shot through the plexiglass.  The remaining hijacker, 18, would be sentenced to 33 years in US prison.
The details of the action were monitored by the President, who had to OK the shooting.  This was one of President Obama’s first military challenges (part of what Bob Woodward calls “Obama’s War”).  It probably helped prepare him for taking out Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
In US Army Basic, in 1968, we started rifle range on a 25-meter range, and with record range the lowest distance was 50 meters, the longest 350.  I remember the drill sergeant saying “squeeze those rounds off”.  When I was in, at Fort Jackson SC, we trained on an M-14.
Wikipedia attribution link for photo of the lifeboat. 

There several other short documentaries on the Somali piracy problem on Netflix.  There is also a serious problem off West Africa, near Nigeria.  

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