April 8th, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Pirates hold U.S. ship's skipper, officer aboard says

    [cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/08/ship.hijacked/art.bainbridge.dod.jpg]

    The crew of a U.S.-flagged container ship has retaken control of the ship from pirates but its captain is being held hostage, the freighter's second officer said Wednesday.

    The USS Bainbridge, a guided-missile destroyer, is heading to the area to assist.

    "There's four Somali pirates, and they've got our captain," Ken Quinn said in a ship-to-shore phone interview.

    Capt. Richard Phillips is being held in the Maersk Alabama's 28-foot lifeboat, Quinn said.

    The crew had a plan to make an exchange for their captain.

    "We had a pirate we took and kept him for 12 hours," Quinn said. "We tied him up and he was our prisoner." Quinn describes the hijacking to CNN »

    The crew gave back their prisoner but the pirates reneged on the plan and are continuing to hold Phillips captive.

    "So now we're just trying to offer them whatever we can, food, but it's not working too good," he said.

    The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge, part of the allied fleet that patrols the waterway, is headed to the area to assist, the U.S. Navy reported. Quinn said his sailors were trying to hold the pirates off for a few more hours, "and then we'll have a warship here to help us."

    The 780-foot Alabama was carrying food aid bound for the Kenyan port of Mombasa for USAID, the U.N. World Food Program and the Christian charities WorldVision and Catholic Relief Services when it was seized, the ship's owner said. Twenty American crew members were on board.

    Quinn said the pirates were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, but the freighter's crew carried no weapons.
    The Americans locked themselves in the compartment that contains the ship's steering gear, where they remained for about 12 hours. The pirates "got frustrated because they couldn't find us," he said.

    The pirates sank the small boat they used once they climbed aboard the freighter, Quinn said, so Phillips offered them the Alabama's 28-foot lifeboat and some money.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Pirates
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Julie Ameroso

    Why don't they send in the Navy Seals to come up under the boat and tip it over. Then they can rescue the captain and let the pirates swim home. (if they can make it)

    April 10, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  2. Marilyn from MO

    I just have a few questions: What do these "pirates" do with the money they ransom? Use it to feed and help their people or buy more guns. Does the UN have a piracy policy? And why can't all of these boats have at least one armed officer on board, kind of like sky-marshalls?

    April 9, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  3. Rajiv

    To deter pirates the international community should consider demolishing the homes where the families of pirates live. Israel has been doing this for some years now, apparently with success, to deter attackers.

    April 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm |