April 8th, 2009
08:56 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Danger on the High Seas

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/08/ship.hijacked/art.alva.maersk.jpg caption="Attackers hijacked the Maersk Alabama, shown here, formerly known as the Alva Maersk."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on the high seas off the coast of Somali, a potentially deadly standoff is underway. Four pirates armed with assault riffles are holding an American hostage, Captain Richard Phillips. We're told he's being held in a 28-foot lifeboat.
Just moments ago, a U.S. Navy ship arrived on the scene.

The captain's crew has regained control of their U.S. freighter. At one point they tried to get their captain back. In a ship-to-shore phone call with CNN, one of the crew members told us, "We had a pirate we took and kept him for 12 hours. We tied him up and he was our prisoner." The crew gave back their prisoner, but the pirates reneged on the plan and kept the captain.

The crew is now trying to offer the pirates whatever they can, including food, but they admit it's not working.

Just who are these pirates and what do they want? We'll dig into those questions tonight on AC360°.

While doing research on this story today I found some alarming statistics on piracy.

– Six vessels have been hijacked in the last 48 hours
– Since January, there have been a total of 66 hijackings
– Pirates are still holding 14 ships and 260 crew members as hostages
– More than 100 hijackings last year, including 42 off the coast of Somalia

Source: International Maritime Bureau

The big question tonight: Will the U.S. Navy take action against these pirates holding Capt. Phillips. Do you think they should? Share your thoughts below.

Join us for this story and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Robert C.

    Is there a few Navy Seals on board that can perform a rescue mission? It would be pretty simple dive off a smaller boat and swim under the hostage takers life boat and pop up take out the hostage takers all at once. I am not sure.

    April 9, 2009 at 2:16 am |
  2. john

    I support the Somali pirates....America and Europe messed their country up...why should they not fight back and get back those resources that were stolen from?

    April 9, 2009 at 1:36 am |
  3. sandra

    When Western countries stop dumping nuclear waste in Somali waters and making their women, children and population sick, then the pirates will stop.

    America and Europe are responsible for this reaction. Period.
    If you mess with people, they will one day fight back.

    April 9, 2009 at 1:34 am |
  4. Judith

    Why is this being allowed to continue?!?!? Each freighter should have an armed guard on board. If insurance companies are being gouged by these criminals, you can bet the common man is being impacted by the trickle-down effect. It is unbelievable that an American should be held hostage like this. Immediate action is required!

    April 9, 2009 at 1:32 am |
  5. Blue

    Free the Captain by any means necessary!

    April 9, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  6. Don

    Does anyone think that the captian of the Alabama will recieve a civilian meritious medal or any other civilian medal?

    April 9, 2009 at 1:13 am |
  7. Dennis

    if we can put airmarshalls on planes? why can;t we put sea marshalls on ship;s. when jimmey carter was press, these people pushed us around ,what are we going to do put yellow ribbons around the life boat an hope they will leave us alone? LET THE SEAL;S GO AN TAKE THEM OUT when REGAN TOLD THEM HE WAS GOING PARK THE MARINES ON THERE DOOR STEP THEY SURE CHANGED THERE MINDS!!!

    April 9, 2009 at 1:11 am |
  8. colleen

    Why don't the Navy seals swim under the Pirates dingy and dump the it over? Can't swim and hold their guns at the same time!

    April 9, 2009 at 12:52 am |
  9. temma maltz

    Would it not make sense to arm these boats with a real security presence? Why aren't companies like Blackwater not on board protecting these boats? Surely that would be cheaper than paying ransoms etc?

    April 9, 2009 at 12:33 am |
  10. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Joey, we tried to help during the Clinton era. The Blackhawk Down incident was the result. We can't be responsible for every country in the world. Somalia is like it is because of the Somalis.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  11. Scott Colvin

    Why can't the cargo ship companies issue weapons to the crew so they can defend themselves?

    April 8, 2009 at 11:40 pm |
  12. wilfros

    Why can't the lessons learned during WW2 be implemented here!

    Hundreds of warships in the area just sailing around from many different well meaning countries, and thousands of transport ships sailing on their own and unarmed.

    Why can't the convoy system of WW2 be employed? Set up "GPS waypoints" way out in the ocean and at the suez canal. Then on scheduled dates depart these points for the opposite one accompanied by one or more warship. Upon the arrival at the other end of the route, reverse the procedure.

    As I see it the ships would be safe and the warships would have a clear and precise mission, rather than "just sailing around" waiting for something to happen'.

    Organized teamwork is what we all talk about these days, why not actually implement it and save lives. At worst it might mean a few days delay at the waypoints for the transport ships but the alternative is far far worse.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  13. Lee

    Where are the pirates from Somalia getting their weapons.
    Where are these weapons manufactured and who is behind supplying?
    Where is all this money going? Who is really benefiting?
    We can all see what is happening but so many root questions are not being addressed in the news, like my questions above just to name a few. Better in terms of thorough reporting is needed not just the obvious.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  14. Joey

    most of the commentators here are also forgetting the fact that somalia is the way it is today mostly because the U.S and other countries are largely ignoring them

    April 8, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  15. Sophia

    Who has jurisidication in high seas piracy for prosecution? In the long run isn't it worth the cost of these ships having armed security rather than playing "wait and see" if a ship is captured and then paying the ransom? This isn't going to stop until these companies start using force to protect themselves. These pirates are going to do anything they can to survive. They aren't governed by the same morals and laws we are here in the U.S.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  16. abdi

    why is the U.S and other western powers trying to treat the symptoms instead of the cause? the U.S has the money and the ability to help restore the Somali state into its former ways as a free and democratic state with no piracy and no terrorism

    April 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  17. Lorraine

    These pirates are heroes in Somali. They have more money than anyone else there and people are waiting in line to become a pirate. Ships going by there must have a military escort. Unfortunately we will have to shoot them. If we don't they will, of course just continue to take ships and hostages.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  18. tom

    It's been asked before, but where is this money going? The piracy does equal terrorism, but ... in addition ... what activities is this money funding? Will it fund the next attack on the U.S.?

    April 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  19. nah

    I cant help but wonder why one would not arm themselves at seas? I understand it could potentially damage the ship, but who's to say the "pirates" wouldn't do that themselves. P.S. they are not pirates but thugs navigating a boat. We need to make an example of them and use force to show we are not messing around next time. Instill some fear in these so-called pirates.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  20. Cindy

    Why don't the shipping companies hire armed guards, or why aren't guards hired by the insurance companies that end up paying the pirates' ransom, in the same way the American Railroads hired the Pinkertons to ride the trains to keep the cargos and monies they carried safe from bandits?

    April 8, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  21. Terry, TX

    Dan W.....commercial ships/ tankers aren't allowed to go in as an armed vessel into the ports of the world...that's illegal. However, they can be escorted to those ports by carriers and destroyers and submarines... also the Muslim Pirates can be blown out of international waters...that's legal. I vote for vaporizing them out of international waters.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  22. David

    We need to sidetrack a few thousand Troops from the war (conflicts)
    Go that way and make a Real Stand for ONCE!!

    April 8, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  23. Terry, TX

    Regarding Pirates…..why are these ships not being escorted ….and these Muslim Pirates are not blown out of the water. We managed to escort troops across the Atlantic Ocean during WWII….and we can’t escort American ships in a 400 mile space. That’s bull….Obama should authorize it and covert plans should be set to get these Muslim Pirates. T

    April 8, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  24. Alan Knight

    History shows us that the only effective way to combat piracy is to deprive the pirates of their bases, by bombarding them. The U.S. Navy's first overseas action was against the Barbary pirates who were enslaving U.S. merchant seamen. It is a measure of how lily-livered we North Americans have become, that we have allowed the pirates, and their Islamist backers, to establish a stranglehold over our most important oil-supply route, yet still we fail to bombard the pirates villages. We deserve to have our oil supplies cut off. Reuben James must be spinning in his grave! Alan Knight, Master Mariner.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  25. Susan

    After 4 months, the hijacked Ukrainian merchant vessel MV Faina paid $3.2 million; we still don't know where all the arms on board ended up.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  26. Dan W

    no one has asked the number one question as
    to why these ships are not able to defend themselves.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  27. John

    Why don't the shipping companies use the same strategy that the US and UK did in WW II? Move the ships in convoys with US; UK; French; Chinese; Japanese, etc., destroyers providing protection?
    Also, can't our spy satelites locate the pirate 'motherships' that would be off the coast of Somalia?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  28. Steve

    Just like any other policy on negotiating with terrorist, do not negotiate, nor pay the ransom. It only encourages others to join in on this activity.
    I'm sure the navy has the stealth technology including rebreathers and night vision. Just wait until dark, move in with divers, and surprise the hell out of them.

    I've got a question... who has jurisdiction to prosecute these criminals?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  29. Monica

    Why is it that ships with million dollar cargo get out in a dangerous area unarmed and with no Security Personnel?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  30. John

    The American captain has a lot of guts. Sounds like he volunteered to go with the pirates to keep his crew safe. USN is there now, wonder what they'll do. Maybe we should run some ships like the British and Germans did in WW2 where they had big weapons on merchant ships and disguised warships as merchant types. Those pirates sure would be in for a surprise then.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  31. Nina

    This is an absurd and costly problem being funded by insurance companies, so yes, back to the taxpayers... it is time the shippers and insurance companies fess up and get it right .All ships can hire protection, but it is very costly, so they play russian roulette and only have to 'pay up' if they are attacked by pirates....we know the pirated monies are going directly into terrorist coffers by the millions, but no one is stopping it. Yet, it is so simple....as these vessels see pirates approaching from the bridge....a simple high seas warning, no response...attack the pirates ! It is called self defense...

    April 8, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  32. Shane

    OMG! Maybe I don't know the law on the open seas, but if these ships are worth millions, Why don't the shipping companies put armed guards on the ships. It just seems completely crazy that these little boats can attack these HUGE ships. Take some of the soldiers out of Iraq and put them on American ships. Please explain!?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  33. Christine

    Maybe it is time that these cargo ships stay armed?!

    April 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  34. Alberta Toy

    This piracy on the high seas has been going on long enough...they are making the whole shipping industry & the world look like inept fools. Because of the great cost of the paid ransoms..why not arm the ships or perhaps hire combat crews to travel on their ships ready to blow the pirates out of the water!..It seems this would soon teach the thieves, their acts of terror have come to an end.
    It doesn't matter what it costs to arm the ships...it can't be more than the ransoms they pay now.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  35. trace sikora

    the ship sees the pirates coming in their boats, yes?
    SHOOT them!!!no, i am not a violent person, but a little old lady of 61. but these people mean harm and why put up with them. so many innocent people can gt hurt...............thanks

    April 8, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  36. Julian Bray UK

    I know the area, and in the late 60's caught a cruise ship from Mombassa to Brindisi Italy having been working as a journalist and expelled from uganda during Milton Obotes tenure ( the one before idi Amin!) then got the train from Kampala to Mombasa.

    Piracy is big business in Somalia, IF ALL the tanker owners refused to take this route, and go the long way round, Oil and liquified gas prices would rocket and tanker rates would treble. Within days all thecountries so affected would have warships, subs aircraft carriers and so on. whilst the tanker owners pay the ransoms nothing will be done!

    April 8, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  37. Sheri Schmikl

    I simply don't understand why these shipping companies don't employ armed guards to join their crews? I know it's expensive but surely given the rampant nature of the problem the benefit outweighs the cost.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  38. Marie

    The US must either unilaterally or multilaterally take the necesary action to prevent piracy on the high seas. They need to go into the coast of Somali, or further inland if needed to bring an end to this.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  39. lisa

    Piracy? No- terrorism. Attacking a ship w/ a US flag is the same as attacking citizens on US soil- that is why it has not happened in 200 years and must be stoppeed

    April 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  40. Tiffany

    As the wife of a Merchant Marine, I believe that the Navy should intervene. I worry everyday my husband is out to sea that something like this can happen. I hope that they are sucessful in getting the Captain safely back to the M/V Alabama.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  41. allison

    This is crazy! Who would have though a vermonter would be captured by somalian pirates??? Sending good thoughts just down the road to his family

    April 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  42. Maisha A. Franklin

    Are Pirates our new terrorists? Or have we overlooked that there are terrorists who live by sea most of the time?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  43. Stephanie in PA

    I couldn't believe the numbers of pirates attack in the last week that Anderson reported just now... businesses have security guards (with weapons, etc.) –why wouldn't a cargo ship worth millions have a plan of security? Crew is unarmed, that's bad business...and the companies pay ransoms all the time–and who do you think eventually pays....all of us. This is insane and indicative of how poor everything is being run. No one gets the big picture–it's all immediate short term greed and money making.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  44. Mag

    As these pirates are no different from terrorists, why don't the Airforce go in a shoot all their boats at sea before they even kidnap a ship?

    This should be a no-brainer!

    April 8, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  45. Stuart Wade

    Why can America go all around the world to keep our interests safe and we cant keep the hard working men and woman from harm on the high seas. We really need to rethink our priorities.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  46. Mouktar Bouraleh

    Hi Dear Miller,

    As Somali-American, this is really absurd. We all know what is going on there but what is killing me the most is knowing how little or nothing is there to be done in order to prevent this piracy problem.

    The damage caused by these pirates is overwhelming, and besides the ships and on board crew members, the Somali country as a whole is their victim.

    As we all know Somalia gets its products from oversee by ship or boat. As this continues, there will be no ship or boat willing to go to Somali ports, thus this will cause higher risk for the Somalis to even find anything to live with.

    No government or strong controlling body exists. So, I along many others believe that any ship should be given the right to protect themselves and kill these pirates, despite international rules that exist.

    I really hate when I see pirates in action and an American tank is nearby watching the whole thing unfold, not doing anything about it. Why not eliminate them? Who are we afraid? Who will complain about these pirates? Answer is no one.

    Please kill them on behalf of the poor Somalis that can't do anything about it.

    Thank you,

    April 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm |
  47. Joanne Pacicca

    This is a old form of terrorist attack. The world needs to unite in solving this problem. Our prayers are with the hostages.

    April 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm |
  48. Martin Maslag

    Instead of bombing Afghanistan and Iraq why don’t we go after the pirates which are costing us money, every time the ship gets captured its millions of dollars from the shipping company? When will they go broke.. I know I am!

    April 8, 2009 at 9:44 pm |
  49. Annie Kate


    Looking forward to the show. Piracy on the high seas – guess anything can come back "into fashion" so to speak. I just hope we can get all the hostages freed and they are all alive and healthy. Would love to see a breakdown of how many US ships have been attacked versus ships of other countries.

    April 8, 2009 at 9:34 pm |
  50. Isabel

    Good Evening, Maureen Miller!

    Pirate seems something in the movie! But therefore, this act is absurd.

    Somalia is among the poorest countries of Africa, it is bizarre that happens with an American vessel.

    The chaotic state of Somalia and the lack of a central government, together with the location of the country in northeast Africa, created the conditions for the growth of piracy in the region.

    Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a threat to international shipping since the beginning of the civil war in this country in the 90s. This is not today, but almost nothing was done to resolve the issue.

    The ocean is an "endless", but no international military presence to try to prevent acts of piracy?

    This is an old problem. When something serious happens, the nations send several ships to the region to escort commercial ships and try to prevent acts of piracy. A constant control must be done.

    See you later!

    Thank you...

    April 8, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
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