Today in Piracy

Navy SEALs' Steady Hands

The split-second decision to fire at a bobbing life boat from a moving shipcould have gone terribly wrong, had it not been for the pinpoint accuracy of the Navy SEAL snipers who took down Captain Richard Phillips’s captors. The three pirates had to be taken down simultaneously, lest one survive long enough to kill the hostage himself. "It's extremely difficult" to execute such a mission, said one 23-year member of the Navy SEALs who was a sniper and a sniper instructor. In order to join a team of snipers, a person must meet rigorous marksmanship standards—training to hit two-inch targets from long distances—and undergo psychological testing. The Navy’s success in rescuing Phillips, however, appears not to have deterred pirates who have hijacked three more ships in the Gulf of Aden. The latest attack, which took place in the middle of the night, has landed up to 23 more hostages into the pirates’ hands.