Sniping Pirates

The captain held in a lifeboat by pirates off the coast of Somalia has been rescued by the US Navy after snipers took out his captors. CNN reports:

U.S. Navy snipers fatally shot three pirates holding an American cargo-ship captain hostage after seeing that one of the pirates “had an AK-47 leveled at the captain’s back,” a military official said Sunday.

The three pirates, who were armed with AK-47 rifles, were killed by shooters who were aboard the Bainbridge, Gortney said.

The on-scene commander gave the shooters approval to open fire after seeing that “one of the pirates had an AK-47 leveled at the captain’s back,” Gortney said.

That is some incredible shooting!

Earlier this year a team of Marine Scout Snipers were deployed to the region for counter piracy work. They are armed with the SR-25 (Mk 11) 7.62x51mm semi-automatic, an AR-10 style rifle. They may well have been the men that were deployed to take out the pirates.

A scout sniper fires an MK-11 rifle from a HH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter

Hat Tip: Snow Flakes in Hell

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • B Woodman

    Good work! These three men will be the nameless heros of this incident.

  • CW

    You probably mean Scout snipers.

    • CW, fixed, thanks.

  • Matt

    Good job on their part.

    French soldiers also rescued several french civilians in the same area earlier this week. 4 adults and a 3-years old kid were trying to get to Kenya despite the warnings from French marine when they came across somalian pirates. Several days later, it was decided to raid the boat and 2 pirates were killed, 3 others arrested. The owner of the boat was fatally wounded during the assault. From what I heard the 2 pirates were killed by snipers shooting from the french marine boat. I have no experience in this but it must take some serious skills to shoot from one boat to another, especially a small yacht ??

  • Nooky

    Movement from the helicopter, shooting from above target, wind, poor shooting position, movement of the target, light reflection from the see that sniper has some serious skill, can you imagine worst condition for a shot ?

  • Andy

    Is it me, or does it seem that CNN was fixated that the pirates were armed with AK-47s? Is it really relevant?

    Because, now you know that someone’s hobby long arm just identified him as a pirate.

  • Fred

    From what I’ve seen (I think it was on Fox News’ site) the Seal Snipers were on the fan tail of a destroyer at a range of about 30 yards. The Bainbridge’s captain gave the order and the snipers aimed for the heads and shoulders of the baddies. Classic one shot – one kill.
    Damn fine shooting from a pitching deck pretty late in the evening!

  • David

    These three snipers were Navy SEAL’s, arguably the best shooters (and everything else for that matter) in the world :).

  • Carl

    Certainly seems like difficult conditions for such precision shooting. Not just managing one such shot, but presumably three of them simultaneously. That is some pretty unreal coordination.

    CNN does not impress me either. They made it out like it wasn´t clear whether such violent action was really necessary. I would say that anytime anyone is being held hostage their life is automatically endangered, and as such lethal force is always justified.

  • guy

    “someone’s hobby long arm just identified him as a pirate.”

    I own both the (semiauto)AK and an AR-10 used to take down the pirates. So, it should all balance out then right? 😛

  • jdun1911

    This have been all over the political blog sphere. Uncle Jimbo wrote how the rescue went down.

  • Brian 101

    I read on foxnews that the snipers were deployed at the rear of a U.S. ship as it was towing the lifeboat. One pirate was on board negotiating while the 3 others were shot simultaneously by the sniper team. So not from a helicopter, but good shooting nonetheless.

  • jdun1911

    No one knows if the snipers are SEAL or Marine’s Scout Sniper.

  • Valhalla

    I say the fourth just needs to be killed a couple days later by a ricochet somehow with a different gun… get rid of the pirate problem real fast.

    And they would have said USMC Scout Snipers, saying Navy snipers means SEALs, because while CNN likes to bad mouth the corps, they just don’t talk about Navy SEALs.

    God Bless NATO munitions…

  • Cyclops

    Just want to play devil’s advocate.

    First off, let me say great work and impressive shooting, certainly better than most of us would ever come close to. However, I don’t think these snipers’ abilities were tested to the max.

    Were both ships moving…yes, but the waters in the Gulf of Aden are dead calm as are the winds at this time of year, and the mass of the stationary U.S. ship would have made any pitching on that vessel minimal if not imperceptible…at least at the reported distances of 30 to 60 yards.

    Making 3 shots from 3 different shooters within a fraction of a second, that’s impressive. Having 3 live subjects that don’t make any sudden movements at the time of those shots was luck.

    The MK-11 is an exceptionally accurate sniping system that could probably hit a quarter consistently at 60 yards by most people who shoulder it – but that would be in the best of conditions.

    All this to say that the vast majority of us would likely not be able to make these shots. But they don’t particularly impress me as snipers in Afghanistan and Iraq have routinely hit targets out to 600+ yards with the same 7.62 round. One could reasonably expect that these shots were child’s play given the amount of training these snipers receive and the quality of their equipment.

    Let the tomato throwing begin.

  • War Wolf

    Some ABC News hag was giving credit to some gyroscopic scope system that helped the snipers compensate for the motion of the ocean. God how I hate the main stream media. :<

    Talked about here too:

  • Liber Al

    What a pity they killed the pirates. They deserve a second chance. Maybe they had a rough childhood?

  • T-Roy

    Go hug a tree Al.

  • T-Roy


  • Gil

    I understand some cruise lines are booking cruises to this area all you need is your own weapon and ammo, or for a small fee they will rent you a nice sightened in Barrett. Does any one know where can one sign up for a cruise like this?

  • GuinnessForMe

    Sigh…. Common peoples. A gyroscopic sniper scope? I bet they had bullets coated with the same stuff on the stealth bomber so radar couldn’t em up either.

    The most important part of your sniper weapon system is the precise alignment of your scopes sighting plane – via it’s reticle, with the weapons bore axis. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how good your gun or scope or you are. Now, what good would it be if your reticle is held “gyroscopically” on target, but the barrel of your rifle is aiming, well, who knows where? I mean, Iv’e heard some bone headed comments before, but that’s the kind of hocus pocus ninja magic stuff only the media and video game geeks come up with. But hey, the pros took and made the shots, so who cares what the talking heads and computer commandos think.

  • the photographer

    These Marine Snipers did a lot of training before this mission I’m not sure I’m a liberty to say what we did before but I can say first hand that the Mk11 is accurate up to 800+ yards obviously that changes when in a hoovering helicopter and small dinger refusing to stop. And the comment about the water being calm that time of year couldn’t be more wrong while patroling we couldn’t find any pirates because the seas were so rough they went into port.

  • Lance

    Dont forget Marine and Navy marksmen also use M-21 or M-14s for long range shots too.

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