A Navy missile destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, has arrived to help end an ongoing standoff between four Somali pirates and their American hostage off the east coast of Somalia. The hostage, the captain of the container ship, the Maersk Alabama, is being held captive in a lifeboat after a hijacking attempt early April 8.
After the Alabama’s 20 American crew members managed to wrest control of the ship back from the pirates later Wednesday, they initially detained one of the pirates. The NATO Shipping Centre reports that the crew “returned their hostage [sic] to the pirates, hoping the pirates would give back the captain of the ship… but this was not the case.”
News agencies report the captain being held hostage as Richard Phillips of Vermont. According to the Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay shipping news web site, the pirates are “conducting ransom negotiations with a satellite telephone.” Maersk Line Limited, the US-based owner and operator of the ship, said in a statement that they are “working closely with the US military and other government agencies” to resolve the standoff.
The Alabama is carrying food aid and supplies to the port city of Mombasa, Kenya. The Alabama’s hijacking by pirates was the sixth this week. The NATO Shipping Centre reports two more ships, including a Yemeni fishing boat and a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, have been attacked in the region. (AllAfrica.com, April 9)
Whether it is a coincidence or not, the USS Bainbridge is evidently names after William Bainbridge, an early US naval commander who twice had his own ship seized by North African pirates (more correctly, corsairs) in the Barbary Wars of 1800-1805.
See our last post on Somalia and the pirates.
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AMERICAN CAPTAIN HELD HOSTAGE
DOESN’T AMERICAN WARSHIPS HAVE DIVERS ABOARD?
IF SO, WHY DON’T THE DIVERS SWIM TO THE RAFT IN THE DARK,
WITH A PLANNED RESCUE MISSION? GRAB THE CAPTAIN AND PULL
HIM BACKWARD AND THE OTHER DIVERS FROM UNDERNEATH THE
RAFT PUSH THE PIRATES IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION INTO THE WATER?
SWIM LIKE THE DEVIL WITH THE CAPTAIN IN THE OPPOSITE
DIRECTION AND THE REMAINING DIVERS SHOOT THE PIRATES.
WHY ARE WE SITTING THERE WITH AN X-TON WARSHIP WITH A
CREW OF 350 WATCHING A LIFE RAFT WITH 3 PIRATES AND OUR
CAPTAIN. AND, TO ADD INSULT, WONDER WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES
WOULD THINK OF US. GO TO HELL IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT!
WHEN ARE WE AMERICANS GOING TO STAND UP FOR OUR OWN
AND TELL THE WORLD BE DAMNED!
I THINK WE HEARD THAT
Writing in all caps certainly adds weight to your arguments. Perhaps the Pentagon should avail themselves of your obvious expertise.
Somali pirate update
Adrift with his captors in sight of US warships, Richard Phillips, the American sea captain being held by Somali pirates briefly escaped their lifeboat by jumping overboard, but was recaptured. (LAT, April 10) French troops that day stormed a yacht that had been hijacked almost a week ago off Somalia, killing three pirates and arresting another two. Four hostages, including a child, were freed but a fifth was killed in the operation. (Radio Netherlands, April 10) Pirates also attempted to hijack a North Korean-flagged freighter in the Gulf of Aden, but were repulsed by the crew. (AllAfrica, April 10)
Jake Tapper in his ABC News Political Punch of April 9 blog makes note of the Bainbridge connection:
Click on the link for more sources on the Barbary Wars.
Pirates vow revenge
Capt. Phillips is free following an impressively executed Navy SEALS operation—and the pirates are vowing vengeance. From AP, April 12:
Meanwhile, Somali pirates are holding about a dozen ships with more than 200 crew members, according to the Malaysia-based International Maritime Bureau. The hostages are from Bulgaria, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Tuvalu and Ukraine, among other countries. (AP, April 12)