Thursday, September 9, 2010

US Marines Free Ship from Pirates

Sept. 9: Helicopters from the USS Dubuque, right, provide aerial watch as U.S. Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force, board and take control of German-owned vessel M/V Magellan Star, left.

I know it is hard to believe but it looks as though the international community is finally beginning to get their act together combating the problem of piracy. In an action at sea on Thursday U.S. Marines boarded and took control of a German-owned commercial vessel that had been attacked and captured by pirates. This is the first American-led military boarding of its kind amid the recent surge in piracy along the east coast of Africa.

U.S. and allied warships have been patrolling the Gulf of Aden and neighboring waters for months after Somalia-based pirates started to ratchet up their attacks there and along the coast of east Africa.

It reportedly took the Marines an hour to subdue the pirates and retake the ship, the M/V Magellan Star, which had been attacked early Sept. 8. The nine captured pirates were kept on the Magellan Star and are awaiting transfer. No shots were reported fired as Marines overtook the pirates, and no injuries or casualties have been reported.

This successful mission by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) secured the safety of the ship's crew and returned control of the ship to the civilian mariners. A Turkish warship was the first on the scene, responding to a distress call from Magellan Star, Sept. 8. Two additional U.S. warships, the USS Dubuque and USS Princeton arrived in the vicinity of the attack to provide support to the Turkish ship.

Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul said, "units from the multi-national maritime force, under Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), are actively engaged in anti-piracy operations. This regional problem, truly, has global impact and we are completely committed to bringing the disruptive acts of piracy to an end. We have full support of the international community and will continue to do everything possible to bring security to the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin."

CTF-151 is one of three task forces operated by the 25-nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). CTF-151 was established in January 2009 in order to deter, disrupt, and suppress piracy, protecting maritime vessels of all nationalities and securing international freedom of navigation.

In the spring of 2009, the U.S. military intervened in a pirate attack on a U.S.-flagged merchant ship. The crew of that ship retook control of the vessel, but pirates escaped in a lifeboat with the captain of the ship as a hostage. U.S. snipers killed three pirates, captured a fourth and freed the captain in an elaborate naval-rescue operation. American warships since then have intervened a number of times to ward off attacks while they were still under way, often sending helicopters over ships being pursued by pirates, for instance. However, this appeared to be the first time that a U.S. military team boarded a large vessel under pirate control.

French commandos in the past have stormed French-owned ships taken by pirates, with mixed results. Most other European navies have opted to take military action only as a last resort, though other navies, including Russian and Indian ships, have taken more aggressive action recently.

Navy commanders are often frustrated by not having ships or aircraft available to respond to attacks, considering the large expanse of ocean they are patrolling. A U.S. Navy spokesman said Thursday's raid didn't necessarily signal a change in tactics in the U.S. response to pirate attacks. Because commanders had resources available this time around, they decided to act.

Go Navy – Go Marines – Semper Fi!

Apparently, the crazed Pastor in Florida has not gotten the message that burning a Koran is an unacceptable, even contemptible and un-Christian act. Even though he relented briefly yesterday and said he would not commit this sacrilege, he has since said he is reconsidering and may go ahead with the burning after all.

There has been almost universal condemnation of this act by everyone but he is evidently more interested in the instant publicity he is getting. It is now time to put an end to this nonsense. The State of Florida and the Federal Government both have legal authority to put a stop to this act. 

Everyone seems to think that the burning of the Koran in this manner is a legally protected act under the Constitution. Everyone is wrong! In 2004 the United States Supreme Court decided in a 5 to 4 vote that the State of Virginia could ban the burning of a cross by the Klu Klux Klan because the only purpose of the act was to intimidate and punish –something that is not a protected religious act. Justice Thomas wrote at that time: “This statute prohibits only conduct, not expression. Just as one cannot burn down someone's house to make a political point and then seek refuge in the First Amendment, those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point.”

If the Federal Government and our Department of Justice can go after the people of the State of Arizona for trying to enforce Federal Law, they can certainly go after these jackanapes for gross public stupidity.

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