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April 9th, 2009
09:35 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pirate Standoff

Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia.

Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia.

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

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.


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Bev - NYC

    Why do ships with millions in cargo not have armed crews or security of any kind? The fact that a few low tech thugs can reek this kind of havoc on industrialized nations is laughable. Make an example of these pirates, put the rest on notice that any attack on an American vessel will be answered with deadly force. Let the other countries pay ransom and fend for themselves.

    April 10, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  2. John Robinson

    What happened? Your brave captain put his life on the line again by jumping in the sea and the navy just watched him being recaptured by the pirates did you not have snipers watching? Once he jumped into the sea it should have been game over. The lifeboat should have been shot up as the captain was now in the water therefore could not be injured then it is just a matter of fishing all five out of the water if your snipers had not shot all the pirates by then. Some hope!

    April 10, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  3. nancy

    @ Jason from Florida~~ Jason from florida April 9th, 2009 10:24 pm ET

    we need to give up the money and bring the captain home.

    WHAT?? Why give into terrorists on the high seas? I'm NOT wanting any harm to come to the Captain, but, they ALL knew the risk of traveling in harms way through "Pirate Alley".

    @ Fred ~~ I agree with you 100%!!

    April 10, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  4. Rick

    What HAS been happening off the coast of Africa should not be a surprise to anyone

    when you reward bad behavior you only promote more

    The international community should in act a policy that any vessel that comes withjn a specific range of any ship can be fired on

    All military's around the world have this policy

    place responsible people on these ships in charge of security
    with the power to act on threats
    you sink a few of these terrorists boats and they will think twice before trying to over take the next boat that steams by

    I USE THE WORD TERRORIST because that's what they are

    They instill fear in ours

    April 10, 2009 at 7:28 am |
  5. James Quinn

    The pirates need to be treated like pirates. They are in open waters and no jurisdiction exist. Blow them out of the water. No recourse no problem. Let's stop pandering to every tiny fly that buzzes around our head. Swat them and kill them. It is about time we stop being the worlds biggest patsy.

    April 10, 2009 at 5:34 am |
  6. Rick, Indiana

    They have to take this straight to the pirates,or it will never end. This is just unbelievable that they let them get away with this. So why don't they just give them the money they want. Get the Captain back,Fly them home in one of our helicopter's and it would of all ready been over with. That's what there going to end up doing anyway. Its the American way now days.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:38 am |
  7. Rena Clodfelter-Stanphill

    I pray that these somalian Thugs do Not realise that America will not and should not give in to thier demands of money. No more money, No deal!.
    They wiil kill Capt. Richard Phillips. However, if the money is paid in exchange for the Capt., It only gives these inhumane thugs an upper hand and allows them to do it again. a few good Navy Seals could swim under the life boat and cut holes to make it sink. The hostages will have to let go of thier weapons or drown. They can be taken easily and the Capt. saved.

    April 10, 2009 at 4:07 am |
  8. Greg Reyes

    Its pretty clear that those 4 idiots failed their mission and are stuck between a rock and a hardspot. Their fate has been sealed! Their bosses will spare them no mercy because of their failer. Returning to Somalia will be their death sentence. No amount of money will change that. In front of ehem the sharks are circling. They may soon be Fish Food! Negotiateing for their won lives "As I See It" may be their only option. Perhaps they should plea for Amnesty and five Live would be spared.
    Greg

    April 10, 2009 at 3:21 am |
  9. Tom

    I can just see these pirates being paraded in Somalia as millionaire heroes for defying all the might of the US.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:51 am |
  10. Stan

    I do believe that we must start arming our ships with Security to keep these people off our ships! The Security Council should have a Emergency meeting, to start putting Security Personnel with weapons onn these ships, to keep our crews and their Cargo Safe. We live in desperate times and we must use desperate measures to keep our people Safe from harm.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:32 am |
  11. Stan

    James Bradley, you got it right, if we just stop them from going out from their ports, we can stop them for ever attacking any ship. To Fred it's not all about Bombing a Country, it's onle a few Piraters who are caring out these Missions. WE should just close their ports and stop them from going out to see with any type of weapons. They should however be brought to justice and apend a very long time in Prision. To the Captian that's being held hostage, stay patient and it will all work out to get you home safe to your family, your in our thoughts and prayers and we will get you home safely.

    April 10, 2009 at 2:24 am |
  12. Rick

    arm the boats traveling in that part of the and shoot to kill. its time 2 stop this terrorism.

    April 10, 2009 at 1:24 am |
  13. Helen in Alaska

    In regards to the Pirates seizing merchant ships. It seems to me that if something isn't done soon the US will have another drug cartel like situation. If something had been done years ago about the border mess with Mexico we wouldn't be having the problems we do there. Why wait till situations like the pirates, Mexico Drug Cartel, and the illegals coming into this country has ballooned into an unmanagable situation, I say NIP IT IN THE BUD NOW or that situation will become worse in no time!!!

    April 10, 2009 at 1:12 am |
  14. martin

    Anderson:
    My solution to the captain's release. Put a sub under the lifeboat and bring it to the surface. Run an anesthetic gas into the lifeboat until all are asleep, then remove the occupants.
    To prevent further piracy, warn the pirates at 100 yards to turn back. If they don't deliver a missile into their lap.
    Why can't the merchant ships travel in convoys guarded by warships on 4 sides. Just like they did in WW II. Hey, this is war!
    Martin

    April 10, 2009 at 12:08 am |
  15. RTB

    I suggest that we find out how much the poor, deprived, starving Somali pirates want for the safe return of the Captain. Then turn around and offer that amount to the Captain's wife in place of her husband. When and if she accepts, use the lifeboat for the warship's target practice. That should really get the pirates attention!!

    Instead of paying off the pirates in the future, just establish the value of the life of each person on a freighter. Buy a life insurance policy that covers all personal. Then, if hijacked and held for ransom, sink the ship with all persons aboard. Then rescue as many crewmen as possible. Payoff the families of any personal that should die. Kill any pirates that survive the sinking. The ship and it's cargo will already be insured. If there's no profit and a high degree of danger of dying for the pirates, piracy will stop within a year. We'd NEVER have to worry about it again.
    But I imagine there's too many crybaby's out there for that to happen.

    April 9, 2009 at 11:45 pm |
  16. Stevie

    I for one am getting very very sick of hearing about these failed little men/"pirates" from the failed little state of Somalia. It's cleanup time.

    And for the "poverty" apologists: sorry, these dicks are just loser thieving failures.

    In the meantime, godspeed Captain Richard Phillips, our prayers are with you for a quick resolve.

    Signed,

    Stevie from Vancouver Canada.

    April 9, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  17. Kerry Lea

    OK... The pirates have the captain and a boat... And no fuel, water or food in the middle of the ocean. Tell them that in return for "rescuing" them they have to let the captain go free. If they don't and they say they'll shoot him will they really? They're still stuck in the middle of nowhere up the proverbial creek. If it were up to me there'd be a turkey shoot as the pirates got towards shore as a lesson to the rest... IMHO...

    April 9, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  18. jeffrey kelvin

    if Bush/Cheney were still in If Bush/Cheney were still in charge, the pirates would already be dead. But with Obama in the W. H. , the pirates will probably be given a fat check and a job in the US.

    April 9, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  19. Richard

    Why not just arm the freighters with a couple of gaurds.
    Any boat coming into close proximety fire a warning shot,
    if they continue to advance, sink it. These are all big
    ships that are attacked by little fishing boats, usually around
    16 feet long. should be easy enough to sink.

    April 9, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  20. Kim

    I think the U.S. military should send four of its best snipers and take out all 4 pirates simultaneously. The captain would be left unharmed and potential pirates would be clear on the consequences of boarding an American ship. Is this not a feasible plan?

    April 9, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  21. anthony trilling

    I would at least hope that there has been consideration of some type of underwater quick strike to free the captain from his attackers...something that the US Navy SEALS are quite capable of handling...

    April 9, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  22. Paul charlotte nc

    Why dont these ships Have L.R.A.D long distance acoustic device this will stop the pirats in the tracks there is lots of video on this type L.R.A.D in at youtubbe Check it out this will work Our Prays Are with you

    April 9, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  23. Jylie

    2 words

    Navy seals NOW!

    April 9, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  24. Fred

    Am I the only one who sees this as an ACT OF WAR? If a country attacks a US ship, they should expect a visit from our B-52s. I can't believe that four guys have taken the United States hostage! Israel wouldn't put up with this. Why do we?

    April 9, 2009 at 10:58 pm |
  25. Dale Roach

    When ships start to protect themselves ,there will be a lot less attacks on the shipping lanes. If a Navy ship was attacked ,then it would be protect itself.I can see no difference in the way civilian ships are protected verses civilian ships should be protected. it time to arm the ships and when the pirates see the protection ,there will be less ships will be hijacked. Even yachts in the open seas have weapons on board for protection.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  26. James Bradley

    The african pitates have now attacked soveriegn US territory, the United States Steamship Maersk Alabama.

    The typical governmental response used over millenea has been to blockade the ports of the opposing force.

    The seas off the African coast expand to millions of square miles, nearly impossible to patrol completely.

    However, a blockade of the pirates ports requires far fewer resources, and is the traditional way of preventing their access to the seas.

    This is very basic stuff. Maritime history 101. Check it out

    April 9, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  27. Michael

    Why don't they just pull a sub under that lifeboat; pick it up; and move it to where it can be taken?!?!?

    April 9, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  28. Jason from florida

    we need to give up the money and bring the captain home.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  29. 6ftrabbit

    This is not rocket science. Quit trying to chase them around all over the damn ocean, and take out the nest (s) – those villages and towns along the coast where they live, every boat more than 10 feet long, etc.. Don't announce it, just do it. A couple B-52's or B2's unloading napalm should do it. Bunch of bleeding heart liberals is the only obstacle.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  30. Shirley

    To save the captain, that is being kidnapped by the pirates you must give them food and drinks put something in it to make them sleepy also the captain. When they all go to sleep rescue the captain this way no one will have to shoot anyone.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  31. Pamela Kellum

    We just don't understand how a ship that large with a full crew could not detect a small speed boat approaching and not be able to take action to prevent them from boarding. I mean, after all they are out in the middle of nowhere.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  32. Steve

    What's the difference between modern pirates and the threat of U-Boats and merchant ships in WWII? Why doesn't the military organize large convoys to get them past the danger area off Somolia? Then, if pirates get within, say, a half-mile, warn them – then sink them. Works for me. Would probably get the pirates' attention.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  33. Dale Roach

    I have worked on a Merchant Navy contract ship and the captain had certain individuals assigned to weapons(M-16) in case of pirates.So why is this a problem on all ships.I was one of the chosen to protect the ship if hijacked or boarded by by people not assigned to the ship. it made me feel more comfortable working on the seas.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  34. Pedro

    i hope the pirates burn in hell. They should be punished.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  35. Isabel

    Evening, Maureen!

    I'm here just to say 'hello'.

    I'm out of town for Easter and I don't have how to watch the show, but I wish a Happy Easter for you and all 360º team! 🙂

    See you monday!

    April 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  36. Pamela Kellum

    The U.S. should take tougher action against pirates because if no stance is taken, it gives these pirates license to up the ante and run rampant. Consider using the Navy Seals to overtake it by turning it upside down and getting the hostage out and capturing the pirates by whatever means necessary.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  37. Quickson

    What the Pirates are doing to other human beings is immoral and should not be allowed to get away with such cruel and inhumane behavior. These Pirates ought to be killed as their actions naturally fits the definition of terrorism.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  38. Annie Kate

    Its always for money; even piracy back in the good ole days was for money. I think that life boat looks sinkable – i think a few well placed holes in the inflatable part might give the pirates more to think about than keeping the captain captive.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  39. Jim

    They do it because they are poor? that excuse holds as much water as a fishnet in death valley on a 135 degree day- I'm poor & I'm not hijacking anything,not taking innocent people hostage. We have all this technology where we are supposed to be able to read a news paper from space- use it to find these "Terrorists" & take them out.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  40. Jules

    Yes, we should do everything in our prower to show that we will not stand for this the sooner we act the faster the will steer clear of US Ships.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  41. Quickson

    It is sad that there seems to be no internastional law that allows arrest or at least punishment for these pirates. In the past I have seen vedios and heard reports about international Scamas of which some were caught by NBC reportes in Europe and then let go. In the event that there are no international laws that protect other human beings, personally, I think that the pirates should be shot dead. The US should think about future strategies such as arming the captain or hiring secret trained service personel to accompany those ships, and fight these piratesshould they be attacked.

    April 9, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  42. Sophia

    I noticed in an earlier report that pirates have tried to take over several ships in that area but weren't always successful. What did the ships that were successful in not being taken hostage do to fight these pirates? Stop paying the ransoms, fight to protect your crew and ship and these pirates will have no choice but to stop. I thought the U.S. didn't negotiate with terrorist? So why are we starting now. Use force if necessary and be done with this awful problem.

    April 9, 2009 at 9:59 pm |
  43. Terry Sams

    As with most pirate cases, it always comes down to who, where, and how. Anyone who can consistently those questions can effectively hit back. You also have to be agressive and operating in close proximity. The US love for long range technology works to our disadvantage. Just like with Korea and Iran, the pirates know we are impotent to stop them in all but a few scattered attacks.

    April 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm |