5 May 2009

The Butter-Cutter On Guarding Merchant Ships

Entering the virtual Mess Hall, I noted The Butter-Cutter talking and laughing with several Marines at the end of the Chow Line. On seeing me, he shouted out, “SEALS: 3. Pirates: 0. GOOD SHIT!” While laughing still louder, he and the other Marines enjoyed a round of high-fives.

“Yes,” I agreed, “it was a well executed operation to rescue Captain Richard Phillips of the merchant ship Maersk Alabama.”

“ 'Well executed?' “ The Butter-Cutter exclaimed. “It was f***in' beautiful. That's exactly what we gotta do ta all them maggot motherf***ers-blow 'em away!”

“That is easier said then done. The protracted period of that situation and the nearby presence of a U.S. Navy Combatant permitted the introduction of the SEAL team. I don't think we should count on those factors for future rescue operations,” I explained.

“Ya bet yer ass we can't! So we gotta put guards on them ships ta keep that highjackin' shit from happenin'!” In chorus, the other Marines, shouted, “SPOT ON!”

“Well, that is a recommendation Captain Phillips made during his appearance before Congress last week. But, that too is easier said then done,” I cautioned. “There are hundreds of ships sailing the Indian Ocean of the coast of Somalia and we don't have enough personnel to guard them all.” (1)

“F** THE HUNDREDS OF SHIPS!” the assembled Marines said in unison. “Put guards on OUR ships 'n' make them pirates shit their skivvies in fear when they see an American flag!” The Butter-Cutter added to the glee of the other Marines. 

I hesitated, then related: “Captain Phillips said that the ships did not fly U.S. flags when out at sea because they didn't hold up well and replacing worn out flags would cost 'thousands of dollars.' So, pirates can't tell the difference between U.S. ships and those of other countries.”

“OH MY ACHIN' PATRIOTIC ASS! What BULLSHIT! If they use ONE new flag each trip, what's that gonna cost 'em? 50 bucks? A hundred bucks? Them money grubbin' ship owners. That thousands of dollars figure must be fer the entire civilian fleet fer years,” The Butter-Cutter lamented aloud. “I'll tell ya what then! Put Marines on them American merchant ships 'n' we'll fly the Eagle, Globe, 'n' Anchor from the masthead. That'll tell them pirates, 'DON'T F*** WITH THIS SHIP! UNITED STATES MARINES ON BOARD!' “

 I reluctantly interupted the high-five fest they were having over The Butter-Cutter's suggestion by saying, “You don't realize that many countries have restrictions against armed ships entering their ports. Those restrictions . . .” (1) 

“HOLY HOPPIN' SNOT!” he interjected in cutting me off. “Ya ever hear o' 'Think Positive' er 'Just Do It' er 'Make It Happen'? All YOU ever do here is come up with negative shit! Whatever restrictions might be, there's a way around 'em!”

I chuckled to myself and said, “I am sure the Joint Chiefs of Staff have . . . “

Cutting me off again, The Butter-Cutter said, “The only thing them Pentagon Spear Chuckers know ta do, is sit around 'n' play switch! Well, I'll tell ya how ta get around any 'n' all o' them port restrictions: Put the Marines on them ships when they're out at sea 'n' recover 'em before the ship goes inta port. How's them marbles retired officer-type?” (2)

“Sounds good; but, we don't have enough parachute-qualified Marines to jump onto those ships as the SEALS did for the Captain Phillips' rescue,” I countered.

“Maan, there ya go again, talkin' negative. Marines don't gotta JUMP IN. We got somethin' better: the MV-22. Just before a ship moves onta the pirates' turf, an MV-22 with a squad o' Marines flies ta the merchant ship, lands like a helicopter on its deck, 'n' lets off the Marine guards. When the ship leaves their turf, an MV-22 lands on the ship ta pick up the Marine guards 'n' flies 'em home--Mission Accomplished!” (3)

“Hold on there,” I said. “That . . . turf, as you call it, is a big place. Where are those aircraft going to come from and what is their Combat Radius?”

“YOU don't quit, do ya? They would come from the MEU--Marine Expeditionary Unit--NOW in that area. OR, they could station 'em on that island, Diego Garcia. It don't make no difference. The plane can refuel in-flight, take off  'n' land straight up 'n' down 'n' carry a lot more than one Martine rifle squad of 13-up ta 24 fully-armed Marines. So, NOW, what's yer problem?” The Butter-Cutter hammered back accompanied by hoots and hollers from his entourage.

“THE problem is; you don't know if the MEU currently deployed to the Horn of Africa/Indian Ocean area includes MV-22s in its complement!” 

“If it don't, whose fault is that? The Corps has made a big deal outta this plane. If it ain't out there with the troops, then it ain't a Marine thing! On top o' that, I heard that the powers-ta-be are lookin' at the need fer the Corps 'n' amphibious operations--like they wanna get rid of us er somethin'. Well, Commandant, Sir, here's a chance fer the Corps ta show its unique capability is needed. Get them MV-22s out there 'n' Marine guards on our merchant ships--That's The Marine Thing Ta Do!” 

Semper The Marine Thing,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)  




(2) http://www.thebutter-cutter.com/The_DoD_Spear-Chuckers.html

(3) http://www.boeing.com/rotorcraft/military/v22/index.htm

 Waddaya think?

Gysgt D. Ray said:   May 5th, 2009 6:07 am

I would think that if "they can't afford flags" why not stencil the flag on the stack?

Dick Gaines said:   May 5th, 2009 10:05 am

Nobody listened to Puller, Patton, MacArthur, LeMay, etc.--Really no reason to think they'll listen to any Marine now! 

Dick Gaines said:   May 5th, 2009 10:26 am

Matter of fact--Concerning Power Elite (PE) agent Henry Kissinger, very few people in the audience at the Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 8, 2009 laughed when U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones said to them: I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger, filtered down through General Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, who is also here. We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today. Could it be that most didn't laugh because Jones' remarks had some ring of truth? Recently, Kissinger has been talking about the emerging new world order, and on CNBC World's Squawk Box Europe? (April 1, 2009), Financial Times editor Lionel Barber declared we're now living in a new world order where G20 countries will mainly focus on what China rather than the U.S. will do to solve the global financial crisis.] Ref-- http://www.newswithviews.com/Cuddy/dennis154.htm --

Ed Blanz said:   May 5th, 2009 10:53 am

Wow - Butter Cutter - you want to go back to the old days, when Marines protected US Navy ships! Except now, the Corps would be protecting US Merchant ships - and guarenting the "Freedom of the Seas". Excelent mission for the Sea Service! Wish someone would listen - while wishing - maybe that someone would give them a 7.62mm also!

GI said:   May 5th, 2009 3:21 pm

Pirates are part of the stimulus program to get shipping folks to spend more money on insurance and protection.

H. W. (Bill) Buss said:   May 5th, 2009 7:09 pm

I fail to see why sailors on merchant ships cannot be armed with a few AK-47's and given enough training to protect themselves. Should be sufficient for a handful of scroungy pirates. Also fail to see how such a set-up can be labeled an armed ship. Someone needs to inject a little common sense into this situation. H. W. (Bill) Buss GySgt USMC(Ret) 

Disappointed American said:   May 6th, 2009 7:29 am

It is with profound disappointment that I read that American ships do NOT fly the American flag when at sea because it is too expensive. I am sure these same ship owners can then understand: it is too expensive for America to provide them with security on the high seas. 

Retired Marine said:   May 6th, 2009 11:23 am

The implications in the Butter Cutter's story are significant. I believe the 13th MEU is still on station off the Horn Of Africa and could provide the described support IF it had MV-22s-- it does NOT. They are all back in the States and I don't think the embarked helicopters have the necessary combat radius to stand in. Curiously, this pirate threat has existed for over a year and, for whatever reason, the Corps hasn't responded to what appears to be a manifestly marine [small "m" on purpose] situation. In fact, years ago, the Capt Phillips' rescue would have been a U.S. Marine operation. I somehow think this is all related to the fact that the Corps no longer uses the motto, "A FORCE IN READINESS." 

John Gariano 3rd Recon Bn said:   May 7th, 2009 6:13 am


MAJUSMCRET said:   May 7th, 2009 7:49 am

 The suggestion by "Retired Marine" has greater substance then provided in the text of his "Think." The USMC has historically been considered the "infantry" of the USN; and in some circles, it has been called "Naval Infantry." There is a broadening of the separation between the USN & USMC that does not bode well for the future of our Corps. I suggest the reading of the following "writing on the wall" for those interested in the preservation of the Marine Corps:  http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/naval_infantry.htm


Get Serious said:   May 7th, 2009 8:19 am

 Used in World Wars I and II were heavily armed vessels which appear to be slow moving merchant ships. Place several of these in the piracy transit zone and tempt (or better yet invite) an attack. In World War II they called them "Q" ships - for "Queen's Ships". You don't want prisoners as this is not a war and a naval warship can't legally apprehend a priate which means you can not try them (unless you have a law enforcement officer on board). Also as a prisoner they will get the word out to their fellow pirates on what took them down. Soon the number of pirates will be reduced, the businesses on shore living off the pirates' ransom will look for other ways to make money, and some other groups will surface to look for other ways to obtain ransom (or apply for a US government buy out). Time to Get Serious and take serious measures to make those planning on illicit activity think twice.

Tom Bailey said:   May 7th, 2009 11:14 am

 It has always been and I beleive to this day still is the law of the sea (which has been extended to air travel as well) that the Captain of the vessel has absolute authority. Should he/she deem it necessary to protect their ship for the safety of all concerned they have the authority to do what they believe proper, right and necessary. They then must stand in judgement of their decisions but the decisions are theirs and theirs alone not someone half the world away on the other end of a cell phone. The Captain of the cruise ship had it right.

sniperbait '66 said:   May 7th, 2009 11:17 am

 As George Washington said on August 22, 1776 while addressing the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island: "The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die." Words for these times as well.


Maddy said:   May 7th, 2009 4:17 pm

 It's as I stated .. They should have sent the Marines in Long ago to take care of it .. Would not have made the News Media. Marines don't get Credit for their Jobs . They just do them with HONOR , PRIDE & COURAGE .. That is their Reward .