As is standard when working with the Royal Navy – tactically seamless and it moves as smooth as silk.
MONMOUTH launched her Lynx helicopter from 60 miles away to assess the situation. Lt Chris Easterbrook Royal Navy, pilot of the Shipâ€™s helicopter â€śBlack Knightâ€ť said:â€śHaving heard about the distress of the CARAVOS HORIZON, we urgently launched to assess the threat to the merchant vessel and to provide real-time information to MONMOUTH. We stood off at a distance, relaying the current situation and taking photographs and video footage to aid the Commanding Officerâ€™s decision making process. We had to make sure that we understood the situation onboard fully, in order to determine what level of threat the boarding team may face once embarked.â€ť
At the same time, communications were established with the Master of the MV CARAVOS HORIZON, safe inside his citadel with his 23 crew. He provided information on what had happened to his ship, but was unaware of the current situation onboard and had not heard any activity outside the citadel.
Whilst approaching, MONMOUTH was also liaising with a nearby US warship, USS BATAAN (LHD 5), dispatched a MH-60S helicopter to assist and provide a wider area of surveillance. Analysing all the reports that were coming in, there appeared to be no sign of the attackers and only a ladder over the side of MV CARAVOS HORIZON was spotted.
A team of Royal Marine Commandos, backed up by a Royal Navy Boarding Team, embarked on MV CARAVOS HORIZON by helicopter and boats. They systematically worked their way through the vessel ensuring it was clear of intruders. Lt Harry Lane RM, the Officer Commanding the Royal Marines, said:
â€śI was immensely proud of the way my team conducted themselves. This was a time critical operation; it was late in the day and we had very few daylight left. At the very minimum we needed to get on board and into the superstructure of the merchant vessel before last light. We were able to achieve this with some very quick planning and the use of the RN boarding team to bolster our numbers.â€ť
As soon as it became clear that the attackers had fled, the boarding team freed the crew from their refuge and handed control of the vessel back to the Master.
Communication, secure locations for the crew to hold up and wait, and more importantly a military that is willing to put tough men in harms way who are willing to execute violence to permit the free flow of commerce; simple concept that works charms. Works even better with allies who deploy with few to any caveats beyond standard Force-wide ROE.
BZ to all involved in this Combined action. As it should be.
As a side-bar; speaking of our friends at USNIBlog — I think we know some rotorheads that might be with the BATAAN.
If he doesn’t make his PAO get me pictures ……