US Forces Rescue Ship Captain from Somali Pirates

KUALA LUMPUR: The US Navy (see link below) finally saved their captured cargo ship captain from the Somali pirates. The rescue came soon after the French navy was also successful in a separate rescue attempt last week. One had wished that the RMN had done the same thing when our ships were taken last year. But in the end we did the right thing by paying off the pirates.

Further reading

Why? Because we simply do not have the capabilities to attempt a rescue operation. Moreover both of our ships and crews were held near land where a rescue operation are almost impossible. In all of the three rescue operations conducted by the French (two) and the US, all of the hostages were being held at sea, where the pirates lacked the tactical advantage. It was still very risky of course but by not having the hostages on land, the pirates doomed themselves.

Anyway, the US and French naval forces off the waters of Somalia right now were much capable than our RMN task force. Indeed the US Navy had enough resources to mount an amphibious assault on Somalia right now, if ordered by Barack Obama. The fact that they are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, probably caused Obama to get the US Navy to limit itself to a rescue operation only.

Wonder what Kementah are doing right at the moment? Interior design?

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2227 Articles
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  1. PASKAL can’t operate on land? I’m sure they can right? Of course I’m sitting in an a/conditioned office writing this, and have no idea of the situation as it was. Just wondering out loud.

    Marhalim: No, just that the logistics for land rescue is perhaps twenty-fold, and one must remember on land, the skinnys may have the upper hand of the situation. At sea, their options are limited while rescuers only has to worry about the pirates in their view, not the whole village…..

  2. I disagree that we lacked the resources to conduct a rescue operation in Eyl. What we lacked was the will and vision.

    The US has the area under close surveillance. I am pretty confident they would cooperate in providing intel for a raid on Eyl.

    Both the US and France have substantial military installations in Djibouti. This would be the obvious choice for a staging point.

    We have the resources necessary to conduct coordinated assaults from land and seaward.

    From the sea, PASKAL could have conducted a night time assault using the CB90 combat boats in a classic marine commando operation.

    From land, GGK in WMIK Landies would drop outside of Eyl and assault under the cover of darkness.

    If asked, the US would certainly be able to provide air support in the form of UAVs, AC-130s and TacAir.

    I know that proposals to support such and operation were made to MoD, both in work up and during the op. They were declined.

    Marhalim: If we had all the resources like UAVs, AC-130s and TacAir and Intel support, we could have done it. The fact that we have to get it from someone else meant we lacked the resources.

  3. First off, doubtful the US can authorised use of it’s assets to Malaysia for such an operation easily, particularly given the sensitivity over the capabilities of such assets and Malaysia is a non-Nato country and not a close ally of the US and also seems to ignore the fact whether Malaysia could even communicate and coordinate with such assets, we have done joint exercise with US but largely never in regard to use of such US assets with Malaysian SOF and assuming Malaysia could transport all the elements involve to Aden in time without any problems and the problems encountered with the Razaksat transportation shows that things can easily go wrong (hercules broke down)

  4. Granted Malaysia is non-NATO and unlike Thailand and the Philippines not a non-NATO ally, but I dont see why intel from US UAVS or other assets wouldn’t be shared. After all operational control would remain in the hands of the US. Providing the Malaysians with such aid would hardly betray any info that is not already available from open sources. We’re not talking about sharing satellitte data or missile codes here.

    The French had previously asked for Paskal’s help for a rescue operation involving french nationals, but the excuse was that Malaysian participation in a French rescure would endanger the lives of the Malaysian hostages. We had previously accepted help from the French in using Djibuiti as a rest and
    refueling point.

    With regards to the MAF being able to transport the assets in time…. I dont see any problems. The question is after transporting the stuff there, how many hours would have to be spent on maintainance before these ships/aircraft would be ready for use again. Totally agree with MR/messter T. A lack of will.

  5. Azlan, the proposed Paskal particpation in the french rescue was straightforward in that it just involved the attachment of a commando team, intel might be shared but if we’re talking real-time access, direct communications b/w UAV, Tacair and A/C-130s along with data sharing/ targeting info and protocols. Also the use of US UAVs would give us an insight to it’s capabilities, not all of it which is known publicly. Not sure why you’re so sure that the MAF will have no problems transporting assets to the area, as I know a few cases where we’ve had a number of problems and that was regionally. It’s not a lack of will really, the mission was not doable due to the fact that there was a lot of risk involved, particularly with the number of hostages and I do not subscribe to the idea that the US will give us whatever support we want to carry out such a mission.

  6. It does not always go well: Germany failed to rescue the 5 Germans held hostage by the Somalis in the recent days. It was quite a spectacular show of incompetence. The German government was about to sent a 40-man team of the (police) special unit “GSG 9”, even the GSG 9 helicopters were already brought to Dshibuti. They should fly the GSG 9-team to a German Navy frigate somewhere close to the captured ship and then should free the hostages “at all cost” (German interior minister was ready to take responsibility if the mission failed).

    But GSG 9 is a federal police unit and thus belongs to the Interior Ministry. German Navy of course belongs to the Defence Ministry. Thus they refused to cooperate with GSG 9, because the Interior Ministry did not want to give the Navy/Defence Ministry the leadership of this mission. In the end, the Somali pirates managed to bring the ship into a safe harbour in Somalia and the whole mission was aborted. So, now the only option for the Germans is to pay a few million dollars and hope that nobody noticed their complete incompetence.

    I hope such nonsense will never happen again (in any country). I almost believe some German Navy Admiral was to proud to let the “police officers” from GSG 9 take all the glory. The German Navy has their own special forces (combat frogmen – “Kampfschwimmer”) which are also capable of hostage rescue. If they had been sent than maybe the whole thing would have actually worked… Stupid old men exist everywhere in the world.

  7. In 2000, the British army rescued 6 men who were held by the West Side Boys, with just 2 Chinooks and 2 Lynxs. A remarkable rescue effort carried out with limited resources. Of course accurate intel played a major part in ensuring success.

    Have heard that Petronas and MISC is financing the outfitting of a freighter to be used by PASKAL off Somalia. Dont know how accurate this report is. Perhaps Dzirhan may have heard something?

    Marhalim: 3 Chinooks and 2 Lynxs armed as gunship plus a Hind with some 200 men, SAS/SBS and Paras, are not what I called limited resources, Azlan. At the height of the Somali patrol, we probably had some 100 GGK/Paskal personnel witn one Lynx and one Fennec with no organic intel resources and a logistic line longer than one can imagine. Moreover the hostages number some 90 ++ and probably being held in different buildings in peaceful Somali villages. To execute the rescue ops, we had to open fire on every Somalis within sight of the buildings where the hostages were being held.

    Limited resources + unfamiliar allies + high probability of collateral damage equals lack of will….

  8. No Hinds Marhalim. The Hinds were used by Executive Outcomes much earlier on to whack the RUF.
    The Brit rescue operation involved 3 Chinooks and 2 army Lynxs, 2 Companies of 1 Para and some SAS. To rescue 6 men in a jungle setting held by about 70 bad guys. More resources than the MAF could count on in Somalia but still a daring rescue. Whether or not the MAF would have mounted a rescue operation had the resources been available is a matter of speculation and debate.

  9. You obviously have a very low opinion of our fire discipline and/or ability to write sensible ROEs. Our SF had better be used to operating and prevailing in non-permissive environments rather than sanitized and scripted exercises.
    As for ‘peaceful’ Somali villages…I’ll reserve judgment on that. If you host and harbour pirates, you’re in the firing line. Eyl was and is a pirate haven. They hole up there with the blessings of the controlling sub-clan who in turn get a cut of the action. ‘Aiding and abetting’ comes to mind.
    Why should we limit the response to what was in theatre? Or only capabilities organic to Malaysian forces? I keep hearing about how there’s no way in hell we’d get US support for such an endeavour, but nobody can exactly say why.
    All the money and effort we have spent on our armed forces and we cannot even put together an operation against irregular militia. That’s what we are dealing with. If we cannot prevail against them, how are we going to prevail against anything better equipped and organized?
    These are questions that obviously Kementah would prefer not asked since everyone is ‘makan gaji’ only.

  10. Its a known fact that in most Arab armies, with the notable exception of Jordan, exercises are mainly scripted. The participants know in advance who is going to win and who is supposed to do what. This is due to poor tactical profiency, a result of poor NCOs and a lack of initiative. A common problem with the armed forces of most 3rd world countries. Lets just hope that exercises done by the MAF are different. The truth is, we have no idea how our special forces will perform under fire.

    Marhalim: I am the last one to cast aspersions on the abilities of our soldiers, airmen and sailors but I do doubt very seriously the limitations imposed by our very cautious and timid bureaucrats….

  11. azlan….the only difference tends to be when they have a spectacular screw up in LIVEX such as the Sea Skua and Igla….:).

  12. Does anyone know what is the status of the M4 project? Have any sights actually been bought?
    I think Perajurit had a photo of a Trijicon sight being tested.

    Also, I know its old news but I would be grateful if someone can fill me in on what happened with SME and Steyr? At one time SME was granted the rights to produce the AUG, next there was a lawsuit by Steyr.

    Marhalim: As I had mentioned before in my post on Deferred Ninth Malaysian Project, the M4 and its Sopmod programme, has been deferred due to the economic crisis. This is confirmed by the PTD in an interview in the latest issue of Perajurit. Some 11,000++ plus M4 have been delivered so far mostly to the elite units, PAC for example. Only a small number of optics from Trijicon to EOTECH has been fielded mostly for squad leaders and officers, the privates have to make to do with the iron sights..

    SME and Steyr got into some disagreements which terminated the agreement to manufacture the AUG3, and SME quickly turned around to get the license to built the M4, which seemed, according to its website, is its proudest achievement. Steyr wanted to sue but the matter was quickly hushed down. Perhaps if I got the time, money and energy, the malaysian steyr saga will be my first book….

  13. Ahem….Sedition Act

    Marhalim: I know, I know, but I mentioned is almost non-threatening compared to the things being published even in print……

  14. The first LIVEX where they went 0 for 2 for the Iglas trying to engage a Banshee target with IR flare. Think very hard, you should work out why it failed.


  15. Everyone and their dog is now getting into the ‘pirate buster’ act these days.

  16. There was alot of brouhaha sometime back about Private Security Contractors (PSCs) operating in Malaysian territorial waters escorting merchant vessels in the Straits of Malacca. Wonder why none of them are active off Somalia. Very uncharacteristic of these soldiers of fortune with their usually mercenary devil-may-care attitudes.

    Taking into account the navy’s limited capital ships, the best bet would be to oufit a merchant vessel to provide escort duties to Malaysian-flagged vessels that are organized into convoys. The ARAPAHO project for container vessels come to mind as the Canadian navy was reported to have said, “Come and bring lots of choppers”. Wonder if the navy is looking into it?

    Marhalim: It sounds like a good idea to me but whose going to fork the dough? I’ll bet if it happened it will come out from the defence budget. So its better to send RMN ships for these sort of mission, at least our boys will get into the thick of it even though we all know that the navy can ill afford such luxuries….

  17. all three services have received M4
    QRF in UNIFIL uses M4 with optics

    Marhalim: But with only 11,000 on hand how many units really got them? Apart from the Spec Ops units, Para Brigade and the Lebanon boys, who else got the M4s?

  18. Salam, brothers in arms. Followed all the arguments, for and againts, of ruffing up the pirates of Somaliland by our SFs. Be rest assured, we have the capabilities. I had seen ours in action WITH MY OWN EYES, TRULY, WE ARE VERY GOOD. Problems at that moment of time was, that our people has still to learn to accept taqdir, if, there’ll be casualties along the way – either of the hostages and/or and members of the rescue team i.e. the SFs.

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