Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You Don’t Wanna Be Down Range, Just Sayin’


Then they’ll go get a cup of coffee and a piece of Easter cake.

Because that’s just the way they are.

So, you know, think about it.


  1. Re-each out, reach out and touch someone.... hm hm hmm

    How's the rest of that tune go?

    Bravo Zulu, all...

  2. Isn't it a bit of an overkill to use a Barrett 50 cal on a human target? :)

  3. Not if you want to make sure they're dead with one shot in any windage at any range, even if they're wearing body armor or a helmet or behind cover.

    One shot, one kill, under any conditions, almost all sniper rifles are 50cal for that reason.

    And the Navy still uses the M14 (30.06cal) for general use on ship, because it's a lot less affected by wind (which you always have at sea) and has greater penetrating power into the water (not much, but every bit helps) then the standard M16/M4 .22cal or 9mm round. Longer range too, and range is always an issue at sea.

    Inside the skin of the ship we tend to use pistols and shotguns.

  4. if you want to help (and can afford it) American snipers, formaly Adopt A Sniper takes donations and has raffles to raise money for equipment for armed services snipers. (better equipment than the US Gov will supply)

  5. Inside the skin of the ship we tend to use pistols and shotguns.Wait what? Why are you shooting people inside the ship?

  6. Well mostly, Michelle, we just shoot Ensigns. It's funny to watch them scatter.


    What I actually meant was twofold:

    1) Security teams inside the ship, in the event of an intruder or security situation. For example, in the recent anti-piracy operation involving USS Bainbridge, one of the Pirates was brought onboard Bainbridge for medical attention. He's not getting free run of medical, he's under guard - those guards are using pistols and shotguns. Another example, ships on counter drug operations often take prisoners, we had over 40 onboard at one time, in manacles and handcuffs under guard at all times. That's just a few examples, there are many more.

    2) We do board and seize enemy vessels. Example, for 12 years following the first Gulf War and right up to the current conflict under UN Sanctions, US Navy ships halted, boarded, and inspected and if necessary seized at gunpoint, ships inbound and outbound from Iraq. Thousands of them. Searching for sanctioned shipments (primarily oil, weapons, and certain people). Those missions were often extremely dangerous. A number of sailors have been killed or seriously injured. There were a number of armed confrontations, there have been a large number of scuttlings (traps, explosives, open seacocks, etc). I myself was involved in over a hundred such boardings in the months leading up the current war. We carried a variety of weapons, but primarily pistols and shotguns as they tend to work better inside the close confines of a ship, especially if you're chasing some shithead in the dark through the plumbing of the engine room, or crawling through the bilges in search of hidden compartments, or repelling down stacks of conex containers a hundred feet above the deck of some rusty container freighter.

    Of course, our boats have heavier weapons, usually heavy machineguns and riflemen, and they normally stand off while we search the ship, ready to hose down the shitheads should it become necessary.

    It ain't fun, and it's dangerous as all hell. They've got all the advantage and they're ready for you. The trick is to move fast, don't stop, and shoot first if it comes down to it.

  7. Why are you shooting people inside the ship?Boarding parties. Escaped prisoners. Captured Motorola engineers.


  8. OK. Prisoners. That makes sense.

    I was trying to imagine why you might be firing guns inside your own ship. I was pretty sure boarding parties was not the correct answer.

    Just out of curiosity, when was the last time boarding parties was an issue? I thought that in WWI and WWII it was all about sinking ships.

  9. Something to think about:

    When a US warship goes into port, it usually takes on stores (food--or what passes for it--for the crew, mail, toilet paper, whathaveyou). Sometimes, some of that material is brought on by local personnel, by which I mean foreign nationals.

    A ship is most vulnerable when its movement is constrained, and there is no greater constrainment than being pierside. You're lashed to the pier, and are literally going nowhere, fast. On top of that, you've got drunken sailors returning from liberty, dressed in civilian clothes, all sorts of dock workers running around who aren't familiar, and these supply people bringing on stores.

    Any one of those latter types could be a Bad Guy. He could be carrying a gun, a bomb, or something equally bad. Or he could just be trying to get access to a part of the ship that's restricted. Locals might also not be positively disposed toward the US military in the port, and may riot on the pier.

    This is why we have inport emergency and security teams, and a ship's self defense force (SSDF), as well as the the boarding teams as Jim said above.

    I was a section leader for the SSDF on my first ship, and I can tell you from personal experience, being pierside is the most exposed moment for the ship in terms of possible unanticipated threats. Shotguns are good for several reasons--the rounds don't require precision aiming from a sailor who might usually be painting nonskid or fussing with buttons all day, and don't keep ricocheting down the metal passageways in the event of a firefight as badly as rifle rounds. Plus, in the enclosed nature of below decks, you're a helluva lot more likely to be able to point, shoot, and be sure that you've either suppressed or hit your target, with a shotgun.

    Jim's got a LOT more experience with this type of thing, but I thought I'd add a little on the "whyfore" myself.

    One qualifier, in case someone with a more liberal agenda comes along: we're also trained in nonlethal forms of riot suppression, and trained to the point where we ourselves are subjected to such things as riot gas and the like, trained in the use of riot shields and batons, etc. But for the six months you're out there, that ship isn't just sovereign US soil, it's your home, and in the event that home gets threatened, you'd better believe the sailors can and will defend it with the requisite level of force.

  10. What kind of cake - coconut cake?

    I prefer lemon meringue pie after my sharpshooting.

  11. Isn't it hard to shoot something with a gun fixed to the deck on a moving ship?

    My dad was a machinist mate, not gunnery. I never learned all the cool stuff.


  12. Cassie,

    Short answer, yes. Long answer, not if you're trained for it. The ship's motion is more or less regular, with proper experience a gunner can be trained to simply take that into account.


    You're asking about our ships being boarded? That hasn't happened in a long time, but probably more recently than you might think. The USS Pueblo was attacked, boarded, and seized by the North Koreans in 1968, her crew tortured for 11 months and one killed. There have been other incidents that didn't go as far, such as the USS Liberty incident in 1967, about which there is significant evidence the attack by Israel was not an accident as officially claimed and accepted. A number of our ships have been attacked in port in foreign countries within the last couple of years - with attempts at intrusion.

    Or are you asking about us boarding other ships? Because that happens all the time. I've led boarding teams under hostile conditions myself, many times.

  13. No, it was the first bit--I didn't know that American ships had been boarded in recent history (OK, not that recent as I wasn't alive when either incident you mention occurred).

    But the bit about ports makes sense.

  14. I love these little motivational posters...

    Dr. Phil


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