US Navy reaches ship hijacked by Somali pirates (Lead)April 9th, 2009 - 9:55 am ICT by IANS
Washington, April 9 (DPA) A US Navy vessel has arrived at a US-flagged cargo ship whose captain was being held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
Crew members earlier retook control of the Maersk Alabama, which was hijacked off the coast of Somalia Wednesday, but the ship’s captain was still being held hostage.
The Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge has arrived to help the crew, a military official told CNN. Navy officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Captain Richard Phillips was being held by the pirates on the ship’s 28-foot lifeboat and was alive, second mate Ken Quinn earlier told CNN.
Quinn confirmed that the crew was in control of the ship.
“We took one of the pirates hostage. We tied him up and kept him for 12 hours. We returned him, but they didn’t return our captain,” Quinn said.
“They’re (pirates) not aboard. We’re in control of the vessel. We can hear our captain - he’s got a ship radio.”
The ship with 20 US citizens on board was hijacked by Somali pirates early Wednesday morning, the first time a US crew has been taken hostage in the volatile waters.
Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Association said that the 17,000-ton vessel, the Maersk Alabama, was taken in the Indian Ocean, around 500 km off the Somali coast.
Four pirates apparently boarded the ship and at least one of them had been taken into custody by the crew, Defence Department officials said according to the American Forces Press Service.
The US State Department would not confirm that the ship was recaptured. Spokesman Robert Wood said there were still a number of “contradictory reports” coming out of the region.
The White House earlier said it was “closely monitoring” the situation. A spokesman for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain said a coalition force off the Somali coast was keeping watch on the vessel.
Somali pirates, who typically seek ransom, have stepped up their attacks on ships operating off the coast in recent weeks. The Danish-US ship is the sixth to be seized since Saturday.
The 32,000-ton British-owned Malaspina Castle, flying a Panama flag, was seized Monday along with its crew of 24 from Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine and the Philippines.
Taiwanese fishing vessel MV Win Far was taken on the same day near the Seychelles. Its crew of 30 is from Taiwan, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.
A French yacht, a Yemeni tugboat and a German container ship were also seized over the weekend.
The pirates do not harm their crew, instead holding out for multi-million dollar ransoms.
Pirate gangs in 2008 seized dozens of ships and earned tens of millions of dollars, prompting the international community to send in a fleet of warships.
Around 15 warships from the European Union, a coalition task force and individual countries such as Russia, India and China patrol an area of about 2.85 million sq km.
- Somali pirates release Bulgarian-flagged chemical product tanker after four months - Sep 09, 2010
- U.S. Marines retake hijacked German-owned vessel off the coast of Somalia - Sep 09, 2010
- Indian Navy warship deployed near Somali coast to free sailors - Apr 19, 2011
- Danish warship frees Pakistani, Iranian hostages - Jan 09, 2012
- Hostage crisis: Navy rushes warship to Somali coast - Apr 18, 2011
- Ship owners ask Somali pirates to release seven Indians (Lead) - Apr 17, 2011
- US crew retakes ship from Somali pirates: report (Lead) - Apr 09, 2009
- Danish warship rescues 12 hostages from Somali pirates - Apr 13, 2012
- Another piracy attempt foiled, 16 pirates held - Mar 27, 2011
- Somali pirates negotiate with US Navy over hostage - Apr 10, 2009
- Hostages rescued from Somali pirates say they were threatened, tortured - Mar 16, 2011
- Somali pirates hijack German-owned ship with crew of 12 - Jan 26, 2011
- Somali pirates free 8 Indian crew, 7 still held hostage (Lead) - Apr 16, 2011
- Danish ship taken hostage by Somali pirates - Mar 01, 2011
- Hijacked Indian vessels traced in Seychelles - Mar 30, 2010
Tags: american forces press service, being held hostage, captain richard, cnn, coalition force, contradictory reports, defence department, destroyer uss, fifth fleet, ken quinn, navy destroyer, navy officials, navy vessel, pirates off the coast of somalia, richard phillips, second mate, somali coast, somali pirates, us state department, uss bainbridge