Here’s The Story Behind That Viral Video Of A Ship's Security Guards Fighting Off Somali Pirates


If you’ve spent any time on the Internet in the last week, chances are you’ve already seen the mega-viral “Somali Pirates VS Ship’s Private Security Guards” showing private security raining bullets down on would-be Somali hijackers. The video has racked up millions of views since hitting YouTube on April 20, and with good reason:

Is this just a random gunfight or is there a backstory here? So glad you asked: Mike Schuler at maritime website gCaptain did some sleuthing and uncovered the background details.

According to a 2012 Bloomberg report, the footage was shot by a member of private security firm Trident Group during an attack on the MV Avocet, a bulk freighter operated by New York-based Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc, on March 25th, 2011. The three-minute helmet-cam footage, which Trident Group President Thomas Rothrauff said was the second attempted hijacking by Somali pirates in three days, was first screened during a shipping conference in December 2011.

After it subsequently leaked on the internet in April 2012, the footage “fueled debate over when is it acceptable to open fire,” Bloomberg reports:

Rothrauff said that while it is not visible on the video, return fire from AK-47s on the skiffs barely missed the head of one of his guards.

All four ship guards had fired warning shots, and that barrage of gunfire may have provoked a firefight that masked the sound of return shots from the skiffs on the video, he said. Trident has changed its procedures, and now permits only the team leader to fire warnings.

Rothrauff said it was likely that the occupants of the skiffs were killed or injured, though he had no way of knowing.

“We’re not in the business of counting injuries,” he said.

Trident is “absolutely” satisfied its operating procedures were legal, said Rothrauff. “Full compliance with rules for use of force were in place.”

Somali pirates targeted a record 237 ships for hijackings in 2011, the year the Avocet was attacked — and a year that earned maritime security firms nearly $530 in payments. Since that peak, attempted hijackings off the coast of Africa have declined steadily

But on Sunday, The Department of Defense warned commercial ships traversing shipping routes off the coast of East Africa to brace themselves for a fresh round of attacks by Somali pirates after five years of relatively peaceful seas, the New York Times reports.

“The bottom line is there have been a half-dozen or so [incidents],” Marine General Thomas Waldhauser said at a press conference alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Djibouti, according to Reuters. “We’re not ready to say there is a trend there yet but we’ll continue to watch.”

But despite an uptick in boarding by Somali pirates in recent months, Mattis said that he doesn’t see an expanded role for the U.S. Navy in countering future attacks. “The reasons piracy went down to zero here was because of security measures the shipping industry has taken,” he said. “I think the best practices by the Merchant Marines, by the Navy, and by civilian mariners will be efficient.”

With Mattis’ warning, it appears private security firms are in for another windfall — if they can survive attacks like the one above, that is.

Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, a 3rd Infantry Division Soldier who was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment and killed in action in Iraq in 2003, is depicted in a photo illustration alongside the Distinguished Service Cross medal, which he is slated to posthumously receive for his heroic actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, April 5, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (U.S. Army)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Army has announced it will upgrade a former 3rd Infantry Division soldier's Silver Star to a Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery during the unit's "Thunder Run" attack on Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003.

Read More Show Less

HANOI (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told the U.S. secretary of state he did not want his children to live with the burden of nuclear weapons, a former CIA officer involved in high-level diplomacy over the North's weapons was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Read More Show Less

An Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle that made an emergency landing on Wednesday ditched its entire arsenal of live air-to-air missiles before touching down at Portland International Airport, The War Zone reports.

Read More Show Less

Several hundred U.S. troops will remain in Syria after allied forces clear ISIS fighters out of their last stronghold in the country, officials said on Friday.

President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.

Read More Show Less
Chris Osman (Photo: _chris_osman_designs/Instagram)

The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.

"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."

Read More Show Less