First this happened (note the dateline).
Since the ship arrived on station in February, 2003, it has completed three crew swaps with other Norfolk-based patrol coastal ships.
Petty Officer 1st Class Michael J. Pernaselli, a 27-year-old originally from Rochester, N.Y., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher E. Watts, a 28-year old from Knoxville, Tenn., were part of a seven-person team attempting to inspect a dhow, a small commerce ship, that was nearing an oil terminal in the northern Arabian Gulf.
Also killed was the first Coast Guardsman in this kind of action since Vietnam.
This kind of work is not easy. (This may be true or not–I didn’t hear about it–but if true, it reinforces the truth that the sea is a mighty enemy.) Think about how these guys feel–23 enlisted on the ship, and seven have just gotten killed or injured–and how their community of fellow PC folks must feel. I have served with several of the CO’s, and I know they must be feeling badly tonight.
I will try to go to the memorial service if I can. I’m not part of the PC community, so I do not wish to be in the way during their time.
By the way. The article at the beginning says:
The Navy forbids boats to get within two miles of the terminals and standard security procedures require the team to investigate any vessel that nears them, officials said.
The team, riding on a 24-foot rigid-hull inflatable boat, was sent from the Virginia Beach-based USS Firebolt, a 170-foot coastal patrol boat.
The dhow exploded as the team drew close, flipping the inflatable boat and sending the crew into the water.
Roughly half an hour after the deadly explosion, two more small boats neared the oil terminals and exploded. Combined, the three attacks disabled Iraq’s largest oil terminal for more than 24 hours.
Think about that for a minute.
And please have a kind thought for the families of those who died, and for those who were gravely injured, and for those who grieve because they survived instead.
Update: Bill Powell has a great remembrance of earlier danger for small warships and a link.
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