Boarding pirates ships in the 21 century

This video shows helmet camera footage of Dutch Marines boarding a cargo ship. The footage is fantastic.

I believe the carbine used is the Colt Canada C8. I can’t identify the grenade launcher.

UPDATE: A huge thank you to Okki for creating this transscript …

Transcript: Somalia 5 April, 2010: The German merchant ship “Taipan” is being liberated from pirates by Hr. Ms. Tromp.

The team commander of the boarding team explains the images that were recorded during the boarding with a helmet cam.

We got the order to take our team and liberate the merchant vessel “Taipan” from pirates. There were 10 pirates on board who had hijacked the ship. There were 15 crew on board who had retreated safely into the safe-room in the bowel of the ship.

The sensor operator is now throwing the the Fast-Rope line out of the chopper and he will also be assisting the persons who will descent via the rope.

I’m currently firing the Mag (?) in order to provide cover fire. So the pirates who are standing on the deck of the Taipan wont have the opportunity to fire on us. To the right you can see the Her Majesty Tromp.

From this moment forward there is also cover fire provided from the roofs of the containers. This provides cover fire for the personnel that is still exiting the helicopter. You can also see that the way the containers are stacked, they are providing us cover as well. So in case a magazine change needs to occur, the soldier can step side-ways into cover, change their magazine, and reengage fire to the ships bridge.

From that point we proceeded to the stern of the ship. we headed to the bridge in order to liberate the Taipan. (indistinct talking between the team). [Shouting] Show your hands! Once we got there we first apprehended 6 pirates. The were on the lower deck. We let them climb through the window as the window was broken.

We saw people move, we addressed them and we let 6 pirates exit through the window. All 6 of them were handcuffed and rendered safe.

[Shouting: … Show me your front]. On the stern one of the team members heard voices. They reacted to those voices; addressed them and two more pirates came around the corner. Those were also unarmed. They were also handcuffed on that deck we securred 8 pirates.

At this time, one of the pirates is being summoned to come down. (background: Yeah.. I’ve got him.) Under the watchful eye of one of the team members he walks down the stairs with his hands raised. Once he makes it down he will also be handcuffed and rendered safe. Eventually we ended up with 10 pirates.

[Indistinct shouting]

A 3 member team went upstairs to the bridge. By means of the bridge, which still needed to be cleared, we went down into the crew quarters. We searched and cleared the crew quarters in order to make sure there were no further pirates on board.

The crew rooms where trashed. there were laptops laying around on the floor, door were kicked in, doors had been shot that they were not able to open. In the short time they were on board they did a substantial amount of damage.

They were most definitely armed. Upon the assault of the ship they just dropped everything from RPG’s, RPG7′s and AK-47′s and pistols.

The German captain decided to open the safe-room and he and his crew came out. They were very relieved. We assembled the crew on the port-side of the ships stern. There we debriefed them on what had occurred and how we made entry onto the ship. We received applause from the crew. They were really glad to see us.

Ha! The pirates did a lot of damage with guns, but no weapons were found on the ship 😉 The “MAG” in the transcript is probably the FN MAG.

[ Many thanks to Jeff for emailing me the vid. ]



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.


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  • subase

    That is so unrealistic. : )

  • Redchrome

    Life really does start to imitate first-person-shooter video games.

  • WeaponBuilder

    Excellent Job! Quite methodical, professionally executed mission…

    What’s unrealistic about it?

    Not as “Dramatic” as your ‘experience’ clearing cargo ships in Call of Duty MW??? LoL!

  • Okki

    It’s easy to make comments about how “unrealistic” it is and “video game like” while you’re sitting in the comfort of your own home.

    We should be glad that guys like these Dutch Marines take the initiative and take down pirates instead of creating stand-offs and giving them time to prepare.

    Mooi werk jongens!
    (Nice job guys!)

    Okki (Dutch Expatriate)

  • Jim

    That was one of the coolest videos I’ve ever seen. I also love how even the Dutch soldiers have to command the pirates in English.

    And yes, I was having flashbacks to COD4 too.

  • Lance

    Nice job useing C-8. But US SEALs perfer to use MP-5s because the risk of ricoects from powerful 5.56mm ammo. Lucky they wernt inside of the ship. Many sailors use M-9s and M-5000 shotguns also for this reason here in the states. Many European countires didnt like shotguns and chose to use standerd issues rifle and carbines instead.

  • Gregor

    My tip on the launcher is the Heckler & Koch AG-C/EGLM. Length seems right and I think I spotted a glimpse of white on the back of the launcher, which could be the “S” of the fire selector.

  • Carl

    Very interesting video. I think I played this level in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six game…

    And no, I don’t think the real experience is anything like the game.

    On being thankful to the armed forces of governments, keep in mind that it is the same organization (national governments) that creates the problem of piracy in the first place, by outlawing the carrying of arms by peaceful and responsible people such as merchant mariners.

    No disrespect to the marines in this clip though. They looked very professional, and as an isolated event, rescuing people from violent criminals is a good thing.

  • El Duderino

    In the statement “I’m currently firing the Mag (?) in order to provide cover fire,” the “Mag” is an FN MAG (Mitrailleuse d’Appui Général — translation from French would be general purpose machinegun). It’s basically the same weapon as the US military M240 7.62mm NATO GPMG.

    Helmet cams are going to hit the big time. Already a lot of cops have to have audio mics on — I suppose on-body video is the logical next step. Battlefield applications are, well, pretty obvious (beyond YouTube of course).

  • R.A.W.

    Funny how these heavily armed pirates all suddenly forgot their weapons elsewhere when they figured out that there were Dutch Marines on board.

  • jdun1911

    The last I heard and that was few years ago, SEAL got rid of their MP-5 in the late 90’s early 2000. They do have MP-5SD but that never get use and SEAL members are not qualify for it.

    SMGLEE IIRC got a tour in SEAL 6 armory two years back.

    Sub-machine fell out of favor starting in the mid 90’s and has since been replace in the Navy by mk18 mod 0, the short barrel version of the M4.

  • Jim

    “On being thankful to the armed forces of governments, keep in mind that it is the same organization (national governments) that creates the problem of piracy in the first place, by outlawing the carrying of arms by peaceful and responsible people such as merchant mariners.”

    What a load of crap. Pirates would still pose a major threat even to armed merchant vessels. The fact that weapons on board are banned exacerbates the problem, but it by no means creates it. T

  • Woody

    The Navy SEALs (or USSOCOM), or even tactical police units for that matter, have largely replaced MP5’s from service for M4’s. I could see ricochet being a problem in a ship, though perhaps this can be remedied with a handgun or shotgun.

  • norm

    i think gregor is right the dutch use HK EGLM’s i’ve seen a number of photos supporting gregor.

  • mil

    Non-suppressed MP5 are being replaced everywhere by PDWs and subcarbines. 9mm FMJ does overpenetrate

  • subase

    Although I’m not to sure what the situation is in Somalia (with multiple languages), the soldiers being taught how to say ‘Get down!’ or “On the floor!’ in Somalian would be nice. I think we have the technology.

    And yes the all steel surroundings of the container ship would really lend itself to ricochets, but I think sf are taught to try to avoid them. And probably the main reason they dumped the MP5/shotguns would be their cost (maintenance, ammo, training costs) and not being able to go through body armour, which is in common use nowadays. When doing photoshoots civilians don’t know the difference and that’s all that matters.

    Frankly I wouldn’t feel too comfortable with a 5.56 fmj ammo from an M4. No tumbling, no fragmenting, no exit wound. Just a little hole zipping straight through, not enough stopping power for such close quarters. Then again they do have full auto, but the AK round would be a superior stopper.

  • Lance

    Mil Woody and Jdun.

    Seal still have MP-5A2 and MP-5SD models. And they also have many 5.56 subguns and carbines too. To the most point your right most cops and Spec Ops have ditched the old MP-5 except Navy who use them for on ship use. Most regular ship boarders are issued a M-9 and or a Mossberg shotgun. A 5.56mm round will be bad news for you in a tight steel inside of a ship.

    The MP-5 isnt going away there are still alot of SWAT teams who still have them, And the SD version is still around for Army spec ops. but in very small numbers and not favored compaired the the M-4A1 with a surpessor on it.

  • Sayeret Sapash

    Seals etc who choose to use 5.56 wiht the right ammunition can have a killer bullet wihtout worry much about ricks or pver penetration, For that matter they can also use 9 mm. Something like a TAP round would work well

    In ISrael the peson n manning the 7.62 mm machine gun is referred to as the “maagist” and the gun is also referred to as a MAG.First time I heard the refernce was in 1969.
    Go Royal Dutch MArines GO!!!!!!

  • Redchrome

    This may be getting too politicking, so Steve, feel free to veto this post if you feel it’s too OT.

    Jim,
    from what little I’ve read about piracy, it sounds like:

    + They typically don’t want to injure the crew, because:
    — that invites armed retribution
    — is bad for their reputation and will make future piracy more difficult

    + It wouldn’t be too hard to dissuade them:
    — current attempts usually seem to involve blacking out windows & moving at high speed to avoid the pirates; trailing ropes to tangle propellers or running firehoses as a feeble attempt to fend them off; or in desperation pushing the boarding ladders off.
    — If you can operate a firehose against boarders, you can use a belt-fed MG. It will go farther and be much more effective. (Leaky boats sink).
    — If you can try to push boarding ladders off, you can hang a machine pistol over the side and hose down the pirates all clustered in the boat. (Jeff Cooper said this is the only thing machine pistols may be good for).

    + Piracy is expensive & risky
    — Pirate captains and backers have ‘insurance policies’ for their crew in case of injury.
    — If a vessel seems ready and able to fight back; it is much more rational to go find easier prey. This is why bears don’t eat porcupines and skunks, and would rather eat a farmer’s chickens or pigs.

    In short, piracy is a business like any other; and violence is a *very* expensive way to do business. It’s much more rational to operate by intimidation and threat as far as possible.

    Much of the actual behavior of pirates (as opposed to the TV and movie version of pirates) is laid out in “The Invisible Hook” ( http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Hook-Hidden-Economics-Pirates/dp/0691137471 ) which goes into great detail on the economic and social organization of pirates.

    Also see:
    http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2009/05/leeson_on_pirat.html
    http://www.peterleeson.com/TheInvisibleHook.html

    • Redchrome, its ok to discuss policy directly related to the post, but poointless political arguments is what I want to avoid.

  • subase

    Seals and special counter terrorist teams like this one are not limited to FMJ military ball are they? I’m pretty sure SWAT aren’t.

  • jdun1911

    I did google on SMGLEE SEAL Armory, unfortunately the pictures was taken off-line. From the comments that was left, it looks like SEAL TEAM 6 has only 2 MP5SD in their armory and no other MP5 variants.

    SEAL teams stop qualification for the MP5 a long time ago and because of this I doubt they will use it in combat.

    The MP5 is a decent subgun, however there are a lot better subgun than it. HK stop producing them in favor of their new generation of subgun which is a financial failure.

    Subgun as a whole is dead. It has been replaced for the most part by short barrel rifle. Other branch of the US military use a variant of the mk18 for their CQC needs.

    Arfcom has a pictures threads on mk18 mod 0, variants, and clones. Basically it is a AR with a 10.5 inch barrel. If you’re thinking about going short barrel it is better to go with the 10.5 barrel than 14.5. I built my own variant with MI 10 inch rail (low gas block profile) and I like.

    http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=118&t=408319

  • USCGMI

    Bravo Zulu to the Dutch Marines! What I found interesting is that the crew were safely hidden in a safe room. I didn’t know they had safe rooms on the ships. It seems to be a good idea especially in those pirate waters. It was a good thing that the Dutch Marines were nearby. The crew must have been feeding information to the Marines before they boarded the cargo ship or it could have lead to a hostage situation.

  • Lance

    Subase both elit military and police use JHP bullets some USAF security forces have switched from 124gr 9mm FMJ to 147gr JHP 9mm. Same for all police since FMJ penatrates too much.

    Jdun 9mm MP-5s are still made the MP-10 and MP-40 which fire 10mm and .40 S&W where dicountinued. Cops can still buy new MP-5s if they want to.

    I do know some seal teams have a few MPs mabie not alot but some. A 5.56mm gun is too powerful on a ship.

  • subase

    short barreled 5.56 rifles on full auto with hollow points sounds pretty good to me. Keeping in mind these guys have hearing protection.

    Shotguns may offer an unsuitable amount of ricochet risk, due to the number of projectiles in a shot. Also hostage shots may need to be taken. And the submachine guns are just underpowered.

    Also these guys are fully armored, danger of ricochets may be overstated.

  • Jim

    Redchrome, while all of your points are valid, none of them are relevant to my claim. I am simply stating that piracy would occur whether ships are armed or not. The hauls are simply too large to not risk death. European countries paying millions to ransom their citizens from pirates is literally better than hitting the big lottery jackpot for people living in an area where living expenses probably amount to a tiny fraction what they are in America. I will agree that pirates always go after the low hanging fruit first, but arming most or all ships is just going to shift how low the low hanging fruit is.

    Diamond mining, crab fishing, soldiering, pirating. These are all dangerous careers, but we find each of them too valuable to not do. Expect destitute, uneducated Somalis without any job or life opportunities to feel the same, but much more acutely. Beware simple solutions to a complex problem.

  • Carl

    Redchrome +1

    Essentially, pirates aren’t any more interested in getting shot than the average person (as demonstrated by the video). They want to make a profit and get home with all their limbs still attached.

    It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that they would steer quite clear of any vessels where the crew is armed.

    Any navy ships been attacked by pirates lately? No? I wonder why this is.

  • Lance

    The military dosnt have or us HP 5.56 rounds they will soon, but nothing is in use yet.

  • Aurelien

    “Seal still have MP-5A2 and MP-5SD models.”

    Just a small correction, the US Navy never used MP5A2s, they use MP5Ns, SD-N and K-N. Thats the naval variants of the standard MP5 line.

    US Navy VBSS teams and SEALs dont use the MP5s anymore, they use short barreled M4s, and for ST-6, a bunch of silenced H&K MP7.

  • Redchrome

    Jim, I accept what you’re saying to a certain extent.

    Increasing the risks in piracy will increase the costs, which will shift the supply curve of willing pirates and make it much more rare.

    I think we can both agree that it’s impossible to know just how much the supply curve would be shifted. To give a certain perspective; we know that home invasions still happen in America, one of the more heavily armed countries in the world. However, they are comparatively rare.

    I agree with you that the causes of piracy are very complex. The simplistic answers such as “There’s no government there!” or “the people are starving!” I believe to be outright wrong, or at least so void of useful contemplation that they’re of no value. I’ve tried talking to Somalis, but not enough to learn anything meaningful about their country (this is compounded by the fact that most people don’t think much or know much about economics and want to talk about it even less).

    Here’s one of the best summaries of Somalian law & society that I’ve read.
    http://mises.org/daily/2066
    It’s one of the articles that got me reading mises.org and understanding economics and politics in general.

  • Jim

    Redchrome-

    Let me state once again that the prospects of a tremendous windfall upon someone who has no hope in their life will be almost entirely irresistible, even when it requires risking death to achieve it.

    Secondly, rational choice theory isn’t applicable to every problem or every person, and applying it to a group of people very different from us in so many ways seems presumptuous and just begging to be surprised.

  • Laenhart

    I’m inclined to agree with Redchrome
    Jim, Redchrome is not trying to argue that arming merchant ships will immediately stop all piracy. Instead, he is pointing out that making piracy less attractive will lead to pirates attacking less often. Pirates will still be around, but they will attack less frequently, and hopefully the merchants will be able to dissuade them some large portion of the times they do attack.
    Historically, pirates have only attacked the most vulnerable of targets, and when there are fewer such targets they simply attack less. For example, privateers almost never attacked military ships, even though they frequently carried some of the most desirable booty. This was because they were simply too well armed. The pirates could not afford to operate a fighting vessel capable of taking on a military craft.
    The truth is that the barriers to entry in piracy are at the moment very low – a few guns and a speed boat are all that is required. Arming merchants would raise those barriers, and raising them high enough could be enough to squash virtually all piracy. If a small ship with deck mounted weapons was required to reliably attack a merchant ship, it would be approaching impossible for the same desperate people that you describe to scrape together the money required to finance such an operation.

  • Redchrome

    Regarding rational choice theory; people do make rational choices; but sometimes their universe of discourse is so different from ours that they make different choices than we do because they reason from different input information. This doesn’t make them (or us) right; but it should be considered.

  • Anton

    About the weapons they use, it’s all there on the Dutch wiki. Standard issue stuff.

    (From Wiki) List of weapons used by the Dutch marines:

    * Colt Canada C7A1 – 5.56x45mm NATO assault rifle
    * Colt Canada C8A1 – 5.56x45mm NATO carbine
    * Colt Canada C7 LSW – 5.56x45mm NATO light machinegun
    * Glock 17 – 9x19mm Parabellum semi-automatic pistol
    * FN MAG – 7.62x51mm NATO general purpose machinegun
    * M2HB – .50 inch (12.7 mm) BMG (Browning Machine gun) heavy machinegun
    * Steyr SSG 69 – 7.62x51mm NATO bolt-action sniper rifle
    * Accuracy International AWM – .338 Lapua Magnum sniper rifle
    * M107 – .50 BMG anti-materiel sniper rifle
    * Heckler & Koch MP5 – 9x19mm Parabellum submachine gun
    * FN P90 – 5.7x28mm submachine gun
    * Mossberg M590A1 – shotgun
    * AT4 – anti-tank weapon
    * Panzerfaust 3 – anti-tank weapon
    * Gill – anti-tank missile
    * FIM-92C Stinger – man-portable surface to air missile

    Interesting thing is that the MP5 and the P90 are both available SMG’s but I’ve never seen any footage of Dutch marines using them.