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US Ship Reaches Kenya, Minus Captain Phillips - UPDATES


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Bianca
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« on: April 11, 2009, 05:13:10 pm »








                                   US ship reaches Kenya minus its kidnapped captain



         
 
ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY
and KATHARINE HOURELD,
Associated Press Writers
MOMBASA, Kenya
April 11, 2009

– Cheering and guarded by Navy Seals, the crew of an American ship reached a Kenyan port Saturday evening without their captain, still held hostage by Somali pirates in a lifeboat hundreds of miles from shore.

Capt. Richard Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was seized Wednesday when he thwarted the takeover of the 17,000-ton U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, which was carrying food aid for hungry people in Somalia, Rwanda and Uganda.

A U.S. military official said that early Saturday the pirates in the lifeboat believed to be armed with pistols and AK-47s fired a few shots at a small Navy vessel that had approached, possibly to conduct reconnaissance. No one was hurt and the Navy vessel turned away, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The U.S. sailors did not return fire, he said. The U.S. had not approached in a rescue attempt, he said.

Crew members said that as the pirates boarded his cargo ship, Phillips had told his crew to lock themselves in a cabin and surrendered himself to safeguard his men.

"He saved our lives!" second mate Ken Quinn, of Bradenton, Florida, declared from the ship as it docked in the resort and port city of Mombasa. "He's a hero."

The crew later overpowered some of the pirates but the Somalis fled with Phillips to an enclosed lifeboat, the relatives said.

Quinn told reporters the experience was "terrifying and exciting at the same time."




Not everybody on the ship was ecstatic, however.

One man looked out at the assembled journalists who were shouting questions at him, and after a pause said:


"You're a bunch of ... leeches."


Later, facing the crowd again from the ship, he added:


"Don't disrespect these men like that.

They've got a man out on a lifeboat dying so we can live."
« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 08:33:47 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2009, 05:15:10 pm »










The Italian tugboat was hijacked in a new attack in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's north coast Saturday as it was pulling barges, said Shona Lowe, a spokeswoman at NATO's Northwood maritime command center outside London.

The Foreign Ministry in Rome confirmed 10 of the 16 crew members are Italian. The others are five Romanians and a Croatian, according to Micoperi, the Italian company that owns the ship.

"We received an e-mail from the ship saying 'We are being attacked by pirates,' and after that, nothing," Silvio Bartolotti, the owner of the company, told The Associated Press.

The two hijackings did not take place near each other.

"This is just the Somali pirate machine in full flow," said Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, founder of Dryad Maritime Intelligence Ltd..

The president of the company that owns the Maersk Alabama called it a crime scene and said that crew members had to remain aboard while the FBI investigates the attack.

John Reinhart of Maersk Shipping Line said crew members were provided phones so they could stay in touch with family members.

Phillips jumped out of the lifeboat and tried to swim for his freedom on Friday 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 sensitive, unfolding operations.
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Bianca
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2009, 05:16:45 pm »









A Nairobi-based diplomat who receives regular briefings on the situation said the four pirates holding Phillips had tried to summon other pirates from the Somali mainland. The diplomat, who spoke on condition on anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said that pirates had been trying to reach the lifeboat.

He said that at least two American ships and U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft had been attempting to deter pirate ships and skiffs from contact with the lifeboat but he did not know if the pirates and Navy ships had come into contact.

Abdirahman Osman, a resident of the town who says he knows the pirates well, said some had returned home later Saturday, looking tired. He said the pirates told him they had abandoned their plan to help fellow bandits on the lifeboat because it was surrounded by U.S. forces.

A Pentagon official who spoke on condition of anonymity declined to comment on whether the U.S. Navy had turned back the pirates.

The captain of the USS Bainbridge has been getting direction from FBI hostage negotiators and talks have taken place between him and the pirates, U.S. officials said.

The Bainbridge was joined Friday by the USS Halyburton, which has helicopters, and the huge, amphibious USS Boxer was expected soon after, the defense officials said. The Boxer, the flagship of a multination anti-piracy task force, resembles a small aircraft carrier. It has a crew of more than 1,000, a mobile hospital, missile launchers and about two dozen helicopters and attack planes.

On Friday, the French navy freed a sailboat seized off Somalia last week by other pirates, but one of the hostages was killed.
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Bianca
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2009, 05:19:17 pm »










On Friday, the French navy freed a sailboat seized off Somalia last week by other pirates, but one of the hostages was killed.

The vice president of the Philippines, the nation with the largest number of sailors held captive by Somali pirates, appealed for the safety of hostages to be ensured in the standoff.

"We hope that before launching any tactical action against the pirates, the welfare of every hostage is guaranteed and ensured," said Vice President Noli de Castro. "Moreover, any military action is best done in consultation with the United Nations to gain the support and cooperation of other countries."

France's defense minister promised an autopsy and investigation into the death of the hostage killed during the commando operation, which freed four other captives and was prompted by threats the passengers would be executed. Two pirates also were killed. Three pirates were captured and are to be brought to France for criminal proceedings.

Somali pirates are holding about a dozen ships with more than 200 crew members, according to the Malaysia-based International Maritime Bureau, a piracy watchdog group. The bureau lists 66 attacks since January, not including the Alabama.

___



Associated Press writers who contributed to this report include




Mohamed Olad Hassan and
Mohamed Sheikh Nor in
Mogadishu, Somalia;

Michelle Faul and
Tom Maliti in
Nairobi, Kenya;

Robert Burns in
Washington;

Ariel David in
Rome;

Constant Brand in
Brussels;

Matt Apuzzo and
Robert Burns in
Washington;

Oliver Teves in
Manila, Philippines; and

Pierre-Yves Roger in
Paris.
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Bianca
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2009, 08:34:31 am »




             








                                                   New Somali bid to free US captain 
 

                                        There is rising concern over the fate of Capt Phillips






BBC NEWS
April 12, 2009

Somali elders have launched a fresh attempt to resolve the standoff between the US navy and pirates holding an American captain hostage in a lifeboat.

Somali sources say a group of elders have taken to sea to arrange safe passage for the hostage takers.

The pirates have warned the US navy, which has a warship within sight of the lifeboat, against trying to rescue Capt Richard Phillips by force.

His container ship has arrived with the rest of its crew in Mombasa in Kenya

Crew members hailed his bravery, saying he offered himself as a hostage in order to save them when the Maersk Alabama was attacked on Wednesday.

The ship is now being treated as a crime scene and US federal agents have been interviewing the crew.

The captain is now being held on a lifeboat said to be drifting about 30-45km (20 and 30 miles) off the Somali coast.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 08:36:38 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2009, 08:38:37 am »









Shots fired



A US military official said that on Saturday the four pirates guarding him fired shots at a small navy vessel which had approached, possibly to conduct reconnaissance.

No-one was hurt and the navy vessel turned away without returning fire, an unnamed US official told the Associated Press news agency.





 MAJOR PIRATE INCIDENTS


Ukrainian ship MV Faina seized on 25 September 2008, held until 5 February 2009

Saudi tanker Sirius Star held for two months from November 2008; a $3m ransom was negotiated

At least 15 pirate attacks reported to International Maritime Bureau during March 2009

The 32,500-tonne Malaspina Castle, UK-owned but operated by Italians, seized on 6 April 2009.




In the latest attempt to end the stand-off, elders said to be related to the pirates set sail from the northern Somali town of Eyl. US military officials confirmed fresh negotiations were under way.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Mombasa says the main stumbling block is the pirates' demand to be allowed to return to land before returning the hostage.

Earlier talks failed when US officials insisted on the pirates' arrest, the New York Times newspaper says, quoting unnamed Somali officials.

Abdi Garad, a Somali pirate commander, told AFP news agency on Saturday that there was concern the Americans were "planning rescue tricks like the French commandos did".

French commandos stormed a yacht on Friday to free hostages, but one captive was killed during the operation.

Also on Saturday, pirates hijacked a tugboat in the Gulf of Aden. The Buccaneer has 16 crew members on board, 10 of them Italians.

The crew, which also includes five Romanians and a Croat, are said to have been unharmed.

Another vessel, sailing under the Turkish flag, escaped when its crew used water hoses to repel the pirates who had fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the captain's cabin.

A piracy expert said the hijackings did not appear to be related to the attack on the Alabama Maersk.

"This is just the Somali pirate machine in full flow," Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, founder of Dryad Maritime Intelligence Ltd, told AP.
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