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Royal Marines Present During Hostage Grab

November 30, 2009

Royal Fleet Auxiliary fast fleet tanker RFA Wave Ruler is a sistership to RFA Wave Knight.

I always get into trouble posting on Marines, but I have to say this is what happens when our elite sea soldiers aren’t allowed what they do best–to combat our foes From the Sea. Here is the Daily Mail on this sad tale:

The disturbing truth behind the Royal Navy’s failure to prevent Somali pirates kidnapping a British couple from their yacht can be revealed today.

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday demolishes accounts by the Ministry of Defence and the head of the Navy which suggest that a naval vessel at the scene had no rescue force available.

In fact, far from being a toothless bystander, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Wave Knight was within seconds of unleashing a crack team of 20 lethally armed Royal Marines.

The report also detailed the Marines had at their disposal “a Merlin helicopter and firepower in the form of 30mm and 50mm cannons.” Then with the Pirates and hostages in their sights, the order came to stand down:

It was, according to our source, a surreal moment. Having been feet away, poised for a dramatic rescue, some of the world’s most feared fighting troops were now being ordered to pack their kit and go to bed. A pursuit of the Kota Wajar was, apparently, deemed pointless.The source added: ‘The mood among the Marines was one of intense anger and frustration. These guys were right up for it – absolutely champing at the bit. It was precisely the situation they had trained for.‘We had all watched them practicing rapid-roping [descending at speed on ropes from a helicopter] and sea-borne assaults. They knew exactly what to do. They were poised there like a bunch of Ninjas and the adrenaline was pumping.‘

They couldn’t believe the orders to stand down.

Without the political will, the enemies of freedom run rampant on the high seas. The best tools at your disposal are of little use if they are never tried. So it does bother me when the West spends extravagant funds on what we are told are the most superb fighting forces on the planet, yet the politicians ensure we get very little for our investment.

Still, I have a theory that might solve much of the current reluctance to fight pirates. Our continued calls for small craft operations, stemming from a recent proposal for Influence Squadrons might place the fight with poor Third World, stateless navies on more even ground, where the insurgents at sea cannot use the victimization angle “poor fisherman trying to survive”. With the fight against lawlessness now on equal terms, there would be less clamor from the International Media that we “Western Bullies” are picking on an impoverished, downtrodden people.

So we send in the offshore patrol vessels, corvettes, Stilettos, the Cyclones, HSVs, RHIBs ect, holding back the Aegis battleships and helicopter carriers for the most urgent crises. We see this transformation in war at sea as the norm, rather than an exception; more economical and more effective. Sailors could get closer to the action, learn basic sea fighting skills, while interacting more with the Population of the Sea, instead of fortified within giant floating “green zones” on titanic Amphibious Ship and supercarriers built to fight a different war. Over-trained and under-utilized.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2009 6:02 pm

    What annoys me. Is that they would slit our throats without a second thought.

    Look at any guerilla war the atrocities the “freedom fighters” commit.

    Brave Palestinian fighters firing from behind women.

    Brave Islamic fighters fighting from the places of worship.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 1, 2009 4:11 pm

    Still no word via the British MoD blog on the presence of the Royal Marines on Wave Knight. I will gladly post their statement when they make one.

    The military is suffering for the mistakes of the politicians. Here we have the world’s greatest fighters, with the best equipment, heritage going back centuries, yet the political class seems almost embarrassed by our abilities. Are we ashamed for what we stand for, which is law and order, peace and prosperity, rights for the poor, the weak, and disavantaged? I think we have fallen for the enemy’s propaganda making us into Evil Western Imperialists. But this excuse has sailed long ago.

  3. December 1, 2009 7:24 am

    The military are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    Can you blame a commander not committing his troops to a fight knowing that it will be investigated in minute detail and there could be a possible prosecution if some one, even an aggressor, dies?

    Then there are stories of pirates once captured trying to claim asylum.

    It is a win win situation for those opposed against the West. Kill and maim at you leisure, perhaps get a ransom, if not sue the capturing forces, and then claim asylum. All at our expense. Once they have asylum go on to commit more crime.

    Until I don’t know a cruise ship gets taken and their mass deaths or rapes or whatever the West will sit idly by.

    I don’t think human rights don’t trouble the Chinese. Being robust doesn’t bother the Israelis.

  4. m.ridgard permalink
    December 1, 2009 5:22 am

    As far as I am aware these people were already hostages at the time the RFA vessel arrived on the scene.
    No doubt unleashing the Royal Marines on the pirates would have ended up with dead pirates,do you for one moment think that they would have let their hostages live in such a situation.
    Yes,the public like to read the gung ho rants of the media and the post on here is journalistic twaddle in extremis.
    I wonder if the family of the two hostages would agree with the comments in the media and on here,somehow I doubt it.
    I see from the latest news that a oil tanker carrying a cargo to the USA has been hijacked,so will we see U.S. special forces attempting to board this vessel and release the hostage crew?

  5. Jed permalink
    November 30, 2009 9:49 pm

    The 50mm canon was more likely to be a .50 cal door mounted on the Merlin.

  6. Chuck Hill permalink
    November 30, 2009 8:10 pm

    I think someone once said, “Millions for defense, not one penny for tribute.”

  7. leesea permalink
    November 30, 2009 7:44 pm

    Mike you could not have said it better!:

    “Without the political will, the enemies of freedom run rampant on the high seas.”

    The RMs should have been used. What is it with MOD these days that giving up to Iranians and giving in to pirates is acceptable??! This is another gloomy report on poor British military leadeship not to mention stupid ROE.

    It should also be noted that the RFA ships are ARMED naval auxiliaries as could be ALL MSC NFAF ships except for a bunch of naval sea lawyers with their heads up – where the sun does not shine!

  8. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 30, 2009 6:51 pm

    m.ridgard-I checked at the British MoD before I posted this and saw nothing on these recent developments about the Marines, except the earlier quote from the First Sea Lord. There is still nothing there on the subject.

  9. D. E. Reddick permalink
    November 30, 2009 6:33 pm


    In another, earlier thread I did mention (jokingly) that I was surprised to learn that B.A.E. had been acquired by Northrop Grumman (in reference to those -interesting- claims by Maroof Raza).

    You left off the mention of the “50 mm cannons.” That’s why I referenced that picture of the Royal Marine with the M-82 Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle (I’m assuming that this is representative of the source for the comments regarding 50 mm cannons). Earlier I stated: “Some journalists cannot distinguish between inch-based caliber and millimetric-based bore sizes.” I.E., in the minds of uninformed journalists a .50 caliber (0.5 inch / 12.7 mm) diameter bore barrel is equivalent to a 50 mm (1.97 inch) diameter bore barrel.

  10. November 30, 2009 5:28 pm


    D. E. Reddick said:

    “Hollywood, fur shure! I went back and looked through the article a second time and noticed a fine picture of a Royal Marine holding up a Barrett M-82 .50 cal. sniper rifle.”

    I am no expert on personal kit but from the look of his uniform and armour,and the Chinook on the carrier in the background,I would say that picture was about ten years old.

    As others have said,main stream British media is not well known for getting it’s facts straight on defence matters.
    It is not alone in being somewhat inaccurate though,as Maroof Raza in the Times of India demonstrated here:

    I am sure B.A.E.Systems would be somewhat surprised to learn that Northrop Grumman builds the Nimrod M.R.A.4,though not as surprised as Northrop Grumman!
    I am sure Boeing are also at this very moment searching their hangars to find a P81 multi-mission aircraft,maybe it’s a black project…….


  11. November 30, 2009 2:36 pm

    “As a former Royal the order to “stand down” would have come as no major shock, typical civvies with no knowledge on military matters creating chip papers from non-news subjects.”

    I wonder if they have given ship’s detachments little yellow cards?

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 30, 2009 1:49 pm

    By the way, that RFA Wave Knight class is the Mothership Ideal IMHO! All she needed was a few ‘vettes beside her, and might have given the pirates what for, if allowed.

  13. D. E. Reddick permalink
    November 30, 2009 1:18 pm


    Hollywood, fur shure! I went back and looked through the article a second time and noticed a fine picture of a Royal Marine holding up a Barrett M-82 .50 cal. sniper rifle. That’s probably the source for the 50 mm cannons…

    And I suspect that Michael Ridgard is correct about the nature of this report. It may well be contrived out of multiple, un-related parts & pieces and so has been molded into a gelatinous mound of tripe. Or, it could be the whole and unvarnished truth. As stated by a commentator elsewhere:

    “Well it must be the truth,

    the whole truth,

    and anything but the truth then.”

  14. Hudson permalink
    November 30, 2009 1:05 pm

    The Luftwaffe mounted 50mm as anti-tank weapons on the Eastern Front. So it must have been some time traveler that showed up off Somalia and and joined the Royal Marines. That’s the Hollywood version.

  15. m.ridgard permalink
    November 30, 2009 12:46 pm

    Why oh,oh why do you insist on reproducing excerpts from the British press.
    The daily mail like its related rags has no credence whatsoever in the serious minded people interested in defence matters.
    For gods sake just take a look at the hystericle outbursts emanating from these so called news papers.
    This is no more than appealing to the nationalistic pride of the British people.
    These stories until verified are no more than unsubstantiated rumours which are a particular speciality of the U.K media.
    If you wish to see a controlled and privatised media,look no further than the U.K. Rupert Murdoch can teach you guys.

  16. D. E. Reddick permalink
    November 30, 2009 12:36 pm

    Probably a misunderstanding or typographical error relating to .50 caliber Ma Deuce heavy machine-guns. Some journalists cannot distinguish between inch-based caliber and millimetric-based bore sizes.

    However, the listed weapons fit for the RFA Wave Knight class includes two 30 mm cannon and four 7.62 mm machine-guns. There is the provision for fitting two Vulcan Phalanx 20 mm CIWS, also. But, when sailing Somali waters it isn’t all that unusual to see western warships and auxiliaries take on some extra M2 .50s for extra force protection.

  17. Matthew S. permalink
    November 30, 2009 12:27 pm

    50mm cannons? 30mm is standard on British ships but 50mm?

  18. - Alex 2.0 permalink
    November 30, 2009 12:25 pm

    As a former Royal the order to “stand down” would have come as no major shock, typical civvies with no knowledge on military matters creating chip papers from non-news subjects.

    – Alex.

    PS: somebody like to enlighten me on 50mm “cannons”?


  1. Our Disinterest is Piracy’s Gain « New Wars

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