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The Good Guys Page 4

The Good Guys

Part 4: “If we’re not careful, these people will come to hate us. That’s one reason why the Coast Guard’s so useful here.”

By Capt. Bill Pike — June 2003


 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Iraq
• Part 2: Iraq
• Part 3: Iraq
• Part 4: Iraq
• Iraq Photo Gallery

 Related Resources
• Feature Index

As I lay beneath my poncho, continuing to try to fall asleep, one last thing occurred to me: an encounter I'd had some days before with the thoroughly English captain of the British frigate HMS Chatham, Michael Cochrane, sector commander for operations involving both the Boutwell and MAYBOT. Cochrane had been both comedic and incisive.

"Power & Motoryacht, eh?" he smiled, while sipping tea in his sitting room. "Yes. Yes. I have a rather large motoryacht here myself. Shall we see what she'll do?"

We virtually raced each other to the bridge. Thereupon Cochrane directed his crew to fire up all four of the ship's Rolls Royce jet turbines and, once they were properly on-line, ordered "full speed ahead" with a flourish. The sense of acceleration that ensued was tremendous, considering the 5,000-ton, 450-foot ship, loaded with artillery, rockets, and Lynx attack helicopters, did zero to wide-open throttle (about 26 knots, as I recall) in just under two minutes. "Right-o," Cochrane admonished finally. "Time to stop now...wasting the Queen's money and all that."

But it was the man's next comment, which promptly turned our interview toward a more serious vein, that really put things into perspective. "You know," he said, looking towards a gaggle of fishing dhows (lateen-rigged Arab motorsailers) coming down from the Shatt al-Arab, "if we're not careful, these people will come to hate us. That's one reason why the Coast Guard's so useful here."

"I'm not sure I quite understand what you mean," I queried.

"Well," Cochrane replied, "white hulls are much less threatening than ominously gray ones, if you get my drift."

"So the Coast Guard," I concluded, following his line of thought while looking off towards the dhows myself, "they're the good guys."

Next page > Iraq Photo Gallery > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.