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Off the coast of Somalia, a lifeboat is adrift. On board are four pirates, armed with assault rifles and their hostage, Captain Richard Phillips. Also nearby is the USS Bainbridge and overhead is a Pentagon surveillance drone, feeding the U.S. Navy images of the lifeboat. Tonight we have new insight on what it's like on that 28-foot long lifeboat. It's not pretty.
"There's no toilet... or anything like that," said Capt. Joseph Murphy, the father of first officer of the Maersk Alabama which was hijacked yesterday off the Horn of Africa. The boat is covered and Murphy suspects the pirates have closed the ports. "It's probably 100 degrees in there, no air flow," Murphy added. They have about a 10 day supply of food and water.
Capt. Phillips has a radio on the lifeboat and today he contacted the U.S. Navy and the crew of the Alabama to tell them he's not hurt. His family is reporting he offered himself to the pirates in exchange for the freedom of his crew.
The crew of the Alabama is now headed for their original destination – Mombasa, Kenya, to deliver food aid. But they now reportedly have an armed security details on board.
Tonight, we'll answer the question many of you have been asking: Why isn't the crew of the Alabama armed for these types of situations? Joe Johns has the answer.
And, we'll also look at why these pirates turn to this way of life. It all comes down to money. Last year, pirates got up to $80 million in ransom money, according to the London-based think-tank Chatam House. Years ago, the pirates' lives depended on fishing. Now they're earning more money on the high-seas brandishing automatic weapons and threatening lives. Somalia, after all, is a lawless country with no central government and ties to al Qaeda.
Should the U.S. take tougher action against these pirates?
Sound off below.
Join us for this and more starting at 10pm ET.
Program note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight at 10p EST on Anderson Cooper 360.
So imagine how those pirates feel right about now…
They’re rocking about in the middle of the Indian Ocean trying to figure out how to hold onto their bounty - Captain Richard Phillips - and their lives.
Their own boat is sunk. They're stuck in a 28-foot enclosed lifeboat with a disabled engine. They have limited food and no fuel. And looming nearby is the massive USS Bainbridge, a Navy destroyer that at any moment, could pounce. Two more Navy ships are on the way, a frigate with guided missiles and an amphibious ship. And FBI negotiators are there.
Sure, these four pirates - these four men holding Captain Phillips - are armed with AK-47’s, but do they have anywhere to go?
All the Captain has is a radio, which was running out of juice, so the Navy dropped in some more batteries and limited supplies.
Oh by the way, did I mention the unmanned flying drones that are hovering above the lifeboat and sending pictures back to the Navy destroyer so they can see every move that is made!
If you were those pirates, what would you do at this point?
Two more Navy ships are on the way and will arrive within the next 24 hours. The re have been unconfirmed reports that more pirates are headed to the scene to help take on the U.S. Navy but you have to wonder how that would go down.
The captain’s family, understandably, is anxious about his safety but we’re told he has not been harmed.
What do you think the U.S. needs to do to get out of this mess?
AC360° Senior Producer
One of the many great things about being a producer at AC360° is our fantastic view. Our office is on the seventh floor of the Time Warner Center and is rimmed with a wall of windows. We have a gorgeous view of Central Park and the East side of Manhattan.
Another great perk is that we often interact with celebrities and newsmakers everyday. Most of the time it’s part of the job, but sometimes it’s in passing, not connected to work, like in the hallway or in the elevator and then it feels like a bit of a thrill.
Today, the two came together. There was a bit of commotion in our large newsroom when we saw cameras and lights being set up out on the balcony ledge right outside. As journalists we are a naturally curious bunch, so immediately we all started craning our necks to see who was being interviewed. Who is it? What’s going on out there? They’re interviewing a guy with a bun!
Check out the current satellite of wildfires across Oklahoma and north Texas. (Source: NWS Forecast Office, Norman, OK)
David Mattingly | BIO
Robert Poplawski was 22, unemployed and living at home with his mother. His best friend said he had been booted out of Marine boot camp after an altercation with his drill instructor. But Poplawski was not your typical slacker. According to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, two organizations that track hate groups, Poplawski was busy preparing for the violent collapse of society. He was armed, ready to fight and filled with anti-Semitic and racist views.
When Pittsburgh Police officers came to his house after his mother called 911 to have him tossed out, he allegedly wielded an AK-47 assault rifle. In the shootout and standoff that followed, three officers were murdered. There’s a lot being said about the failure of a 911 dispatcher to warn the officers that there were weapons in the house. But researchers for the ADL and the SPLC say there were clues online long before that Poplawski was armed and dangerous.
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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the impact of historically low interest rates, at the White House April, 9.
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