Kit Up!

Inside the Pirate Takedown: "I Could See the Change in His Eyes"

Kit Up! just got off a conference call with the BLT commander, Recon platoon commander and assault leader for yesterday's takedown of the Magellan Star in the Gulf of Aden.

I'm sure you've all read the storyabout the assault, which included a recon platoon from the 15th MEU and shooters from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines and some Coasties who made the arrests of the nine suspected marauders.

The U.S. team from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force launched the assault from aboard the USS Dubuque, an amphibious transport ship, a U.S. Navy statement said.

[The Navy] said details of the operation could not be disclosed under Navy policies. But he noted the Marine Expeditionary Unit has the capability to board ships both by sea and air.

We got some details on how the raid went down from the 4th Recon platoon commander, Capt. Alexander Martin and his assault team leader, Staff Sgt. Tom Hartrick during this morning's call in. Basically, the boarding team had been training for this kind of operation for 11 months, so their scenarios were honed to a sharp edge.

They had been in comms with the crew, who had barracaded themselves in the engineering spaces below the super structure -- a place the captian called "The Citidel." At around dawn, the Recon Marines sped over to the Magellan Star in RIBs with a full assault load of M4s, body armor and flashbangs. There were no non-lethals brought on the raid.

While Hueys and Cobras orbited overhead, the pirates scanned the action from the bridge, Martin said, basically with a look of detached interest.

But that all changed when the Marines came bounding up the ladders.

"There was one pirate that was visible to me with my 3x scope -- and I could see the change in his eye go from being cautious and observing to one of throwing his hands up once [the lead element] began their move toward the super structure.

That was a physical change I saw in his demeanor and posture. ... He saw the aircraft and I think he saw 24 6-foot, 200-pound Marines rushing toward him. I saw him look into the bridge, call out to two other pirates and they came out with their hands up."

The assault took all of ten minutes to subdue the nine pirates in four different spaces. The Marines recovered five AK-47s, nine fully-loaded mags, knives and some phones and radios. And not a single shot was fired.

So oorah! to the leathernecks who took down the pirates and used the kind of restraint expected of such well-trained professionals.

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