The Battle of Al Faw was one of the first battles of the Iraq War. This would prevent a disaster similar to the 1991 Gulf War. The United States Marine Corps placed 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit under the command of 3 Commando Brigade so that the Brigade had the force to capture both targets. After 30 minutes the Royal Marines would take over whilst the SEALs would depart. An hour later, A and D company would be flown in by Chinook and Sea King helicopters and the rest of 40 commando would then move out and capture the rest of the peninsula and the town of al-Faw. 3 ships from the Royal Navy and 1 from the Royal Australian Navy were assigned to fire support. A B-52 bomber would drop 16 JDAMs on Iraqi positions 17 minutes before the SEAL insertion, a flight of A-10s, the SEALs assault on the MSS and the pipelines was successful, after a brief firefight they killed 1 Iraqi soldier and captured 13 more. At the same time, air and sea landings secured the gas, SEAL Teams 8 and 10 captured the Mina Al Bakr Oil Terminal and Polish GROM commandos captured the Khor Al-Amaya Oil Terminal. 32 Iraqi prisoners were also captured, explosive Ordnance Disposal were then landed on the platforms to search for and remove explosive booby traps and demolition charges. Resistance was light, D company came under fire from an Iraqi Bunker. The Iraqi POWs captured by the SEALs were given over to the commandos, D company neutralized another Iraqi bunker with naval gun fire, without taking any casualties,40 Commando took over 200 Iraqi prisoners. A second assault by 42 Commando followed at 2225 hours, the Marines were preceded by USMC AH-1 Cobra helicopters gunships and flown in by USMC helicopters to land just north of the town of Al Faw, destroying Iraqi artillery. The insertion began badly with appalling visibility, worsened by fires, the cloud base dropped even further and the commander of the US Marine Air Wing decided to call off any further landings. A new insertion was planned, using RAF Chinook and Puma helicopters for dawn, the landings finally took place, six hours late and onto insecure landing zones, all the objectives were taken and secured. 42 Commando became the most forward unit in the al-Faw peninsula and they came under friendly fire from a USMC Cobra but no casualties occurred. A few hours after the Commandos landed, a group of Iraqi soldiers approached the position, the commandos machineguns and an AC-130 fired on them killing all but one. Fedayeen Saddam paramilitaries continued scattered fighting around Umm Qasr, two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided, killing 7 people. 15 MEU achieved their objectives of securing Umm Qasr ahead of schedule
Al-Faw Peninsula, Iraq
Mina-Al-Bkar Oil terminal
Naval Special Warfare operators inspect a shipping container at Mina Al Bakar Oil Terminal
NVG view of Royal Marines disembarking on HMS Ark Royal, for operations on the al Faw peninsula, 21 March 2003.