Martin tackles piracy operations and maritime training during critical time
Capt. Alexander Martin is the executive officer for Force
Reconnaissance Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force. On Sept. 9,
2010, he led the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s assault on the pirated vessel M/V Magellan Star in the Gulf of Aden, a mission that resulted in the apprehension of nine suspected Somali pirates and the rescue of 11 hostages from the German-owned container ship.
Force Reconnaissance spent its last deployment traveling to Navy
bases throughout the country to train members of various military
branches on boarding ships, conducting an assault, prosecuting a target site and taking other actions related to maritime assault.
Prior to becoming the executive officer for the Force Reconnaissance Company, Martin served three tours in Iraq with infantry
and reconnaissance units. He also served with the 15th Marine
Expeditionary Unit as the Force Recon platoon commander and
worked with security forces in the Maldives, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen
and Saudi Arabia.
Martin discussed the Magellan Star mission and how instinct, not just
technology, is critical on the battlefield with Assistant Editor John C.
Marcario. Excerpts follow:
Walk me though the Magellan Star mission,
how it unfolded?
MARTIN: In the morning of Sept. 8, we went into
planning and alert 60 status, which means within 60
minutes we can be ready to board the assault craft. I
went into a briefing and we basically ran through contingencies. Each task force has an element of planning
that they’re responsible for. Mine is the conduct of the
assault. There were 75 coalition personnel involved
from the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps,
along with NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative
We boarded our assault craft around 1 in the afternoon. We were masked behind our shadowing ship.
We were waiting for approval through the sunset, and
it never came, so we were taken back on the [amphibi-ous transport dock ship] USS Dubuque. We used nighttime to conduct more detailed planning and just
rehearsed every possible contingency on how we were
going to take the ship down. The Navy then used that
time to basically use noise, light deception and harassment to keep the pirates [awake].
We knew they had been [chewing the stimulant
plant] khat that day. They’d been pretty aggressive.
They told the boarding crew of the Coast Guard that if
they came aboard, they would burn them, so we knew
what their mindset was, but we were able to use the
night to wear them out a bit.
On Sept. 9, we launched an assault once the first
light of morning broke. We have a series of things that