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DeathscytheX

US sea capt. freed from pirates in swift firefight

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/piracy

MOMBASA, Kenya – An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday in a swift firefight that killed three of the four Somali pirates who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, U.S. officials said.

Capt. Richard Phillips' crew, who said they escaped after he offered himself to the pirates as a hostage, erupted in cheers abroad their ship docked in Mombasa, Kenya, waving an American flag and firing a flare in celebration.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet said Phillips was resting comfortably on a U.S. warship after receiving a medical exam.

The Navy said Phillips was freed at 7:19 p.m. local time. He was taken aboard the Norfolk, Virginia-based USS Bainbridge and then flown to the San Diego-based USS Boxer for the medial exam, 5th Fleet spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen said.

Christensen said Phillips was now "resting comfortably." The USS Boxer was in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, Christensen said.

The U.S. did not say if Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was receiving medical care because he had been injured or if he was being treated for exposure after his ordeal.

U.S. officials said a pirate who had been involved in negotiations to free Phillips but who was not on the lifeboat during the rescue was in military custody. FBI spokesman John Miller said that would change as the situation became "more of a criminal issue than a military issue."

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said prosecutors were looking at "evidence and other issues" to determine whether to bring a case in the United States.

Maersk Line Limited President and CEO John Reinhart said in a news release that the U.S. government informed the company around 1:30 p.m. EDT Sunday that Phillips had been rescued. Reinhart said the company called Phillips' wife, Andrea, to tell her the news.

The U.S. official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.

When Phillips' crew heard the news aboard their ship in the port of Mombasa, they placed an American flag over the rail of the top of the Maersk Alabama and whistled and pumped their fists in the air. Crew fired a bright red flare into the sky from the ship.

"We made it!" said crewman ATM Reza, pumping his fist in the air.

"He managed to be in a 120-degree oven for days, it's amazing," said another of about a dozen crew members who came out to talk to reporters. He said the crew found out the captain was released because one of the sailors had been talking to his wife on the phone.

Capt. Joseph Murphy, the father of second-in-command Shane Murphy, thanked Phillips for his bravery.

"Our prayers have been answered on this Easter Sunday. I have made it clear throughout this terrible ordeal that my son and our family will forever be indebted to Capt. Phillips for his bravery," Murphy said. "If not for his incredible personal sacrifice, this kidnapping and act of terror could have turned out much worse."

In the written statement, Murphy said both his family and Phillips' "can now celebrate a joyous Easter together."

Terry Aiken, 66, who lives across the street from the Phillips house, fought back tears as he reacted to the news.

"I'm very, very happy," Aiken said. "I can't be happier for him and his family."

A government official and others in Somalia with knowledge of the situation had reported hours earlier that negotiations for Phillips' release had broken down.

Talks to free him began Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer. The pirates had threatened to kill Phillips if attacked.

Three U.S. warships were within easy reach of the lifeboat on Saturday. The U.S. Navy had assumed the pirates would try to get their hostage to shore, where they can hide him on Somalia's lawless soil and be in a stronger position to negotiate a ransom.

Maersk Line said before news of the rescue broke that "the U.S. Navy had sight contact" of Phillips — apparently when the pirates opened the hatches.

Before Phillips was freed, a pirate who said he was associated with the gang that held Phillips, Ahmed Mohamed Nur, told The Associated Press that the pirates had reported that "helicopters continue to fly over their heads in the daylight and in the night they are under the focus of a spotlight from a warship."

He spoke by satellite phone from Harardhere, a port and pirate stronghold where a fisherman said helicopters flew over the town Sunday morning and a warship was looming on the horizon. The fisherman, Abdi Sheikh Muse, said that could be an indication the lifeboat may be near to shore.

The district commissioner of the central Mudug region said talks went on all day Saturday, with clan elders from his area talking by satellite telephone and through a translator with Americans, but collapsed late Saturday night.

"The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.

Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.

Phillips' crew of 19 American sailors reached safe harbor in Kenya's northeast port of Mombasa on Saturday night under guard of U.S. Navy Seals, exhilarated by their freedom but mourning the absence of Phillips.

Crew members said their ordeal had begun with the Somali pirates hauling themselves up from a small boat bobbing on the surface of the Indian Ocean far below.

As the pirates shot in the air, Phillips told his crew to lock themselves in a cabin and surrendered himself to safeguard his men, crew members said.

Phillips was then held hostage in an enclosed lifeboat that was closely watched by U.S. warships and a helicopter in an increasingly tense standoff. On Friday, the French navy freed a sailboat seized off Somalia last week by other pirates, but one of the five hostages was killed.

Phillips jumped out of the lifeboat Friday and tried to swim for his freedom but was recaptured when a pirate fired an automatic weapon at or near him, according to U.S. Defense Department officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the unfolding operations.

Early Saturday, the pirates holding Phillips in the lifeboat fired a few shots at a small U.S. Navy vessel that had approached, a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The official said the U.S. sailors did not return fire, the Navy vessel turned away and no one was hurt. He said the vessel had not been attempting a rescue. The pirates are believed armed with pistols and AK-47 assault rifles.

"When I spoke to the crew, they won't consider it done when they board a plane and come home," Maersk President John Reinhart said from Norfolk, Virginia before news of Phillips' rescue. "They won't consider it done until the captain is back, nor will we."

In Phillips' hometown, the Rev. Charles Danielson of the St. Thomas Church said before the news broke that the congregation would continue to pray for Phillips and his family, who are members, and he would encourage "people to find hope in the triumph of good over evil."

Reinhart said he spoke with Phillips' wife, who is surrounded by family and two company employees who were sent to support her.

"She's a brave woman," Reinhart said. "And she has one favor to ask: 'Do what you have to do to bring Richard home safely.' That means don't make a mistake, folks. We have to be perfect in our execution."

Instead of getting money, you get to die. I think we should run navy exercises on their pirate ships. I hope they learned a valuable lesson.


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Thats what those bastards get. To think that pirate hostage situations generally involve large payouts of money to the pirates... thats nuts. If anything, this situation will force some of these boats to start hiring security forces or issuing guns to their crew. O_O


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modern day pirates VS a military navy, hmmmm

i guess they didnt attend school or watch any movies

they dont really have a bargan chip at all, if the hostages die, the ship will be bomed to hell, if they keep hostages, then they will be shot, if they get paid, as soon as the hostages are safe, bombs will fall,

im sure one f14 can take out any thing short of a military vellel with out re stocking its ammo

Edited by Kite

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Bruce Campbell: '' This place has more security then the Batcave ''

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