Ship Captain Free; Three Pirates Killed, One Captured

CNN breaks the news:

The American cargo ship captain held hostage by pirates jumped overboard Sunday from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.

Capt. Richard Phillips was helped out of the water off the Somali coast and is uninjured and in good condition, the official said. He was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship, and later flown to the USS Boxer, where he was “resting comfortably,” the U.S. Navy said.

At the time of the shootings, the fourth pirate was aboard the Bainbridge negotiating with officials, the source said. That pirate was taken into custody.

Phillips was rescued at 7:19 p.m. (12:19 p.m. ET), according to the Navy.

Phillips, who was taken hostage Wednesday after the pirates hijacked the ship he captained, the Maersk Alabama, has contacted his family and received a routine medical exam, the U.S. Navy Central Command said in a statement.

Maersk Line Limited, owner of the Maersk Alabama, issued a statement saying it was informed at 1:30 p.m. by the U.S. government that he had been rescued. John Reinhart, president and CEO, called Phillips’ wife, Andrea, to tell her the good news.

Maersk Alabama crew members, who retook the ship from the pirates last week, were “jubilant” when they received word of the rescue, the statement says.

“We are all absolutely thrilled to learn that Richard is safe and will be re-united with his family,” Reinhart said. “Maersk Line Limited is deeply grateful to the Navy, the FBI and so many others for their tireless efforts to secure Richard’s freedom.”

MSNBC is reporting the rescue was not a moment too soon:

A U.S. military official said the American sea captain held hostage by Somali pirates was in “imminent danger” of being killed by his captors before U.S. Special Operations forces fatally shot them.

In case anyone else has been wondering, like me, what happened to the rest of Captain Phillips’ crew, the MSNBC article says they escaped after the captain “offered himself as a hostage.” They “erupted in cheers aboard their ship docked in Mombasa, Kenya” upon learning the news that Phillips was free.

Tigerhawk, who on the day the ship was seized by the pirates, recommended that “We need to know why our flag did not deter these bozos and take immediate steps to restore their respect for it, even if we have to bomb every pirate port on the Somali coast and suffer the charge of “disproportionality” from the international law fetishists,” today had the grace to acknowledge that this best case outcome happened on Pres. Obama’s watch: “Great news, and — yes, I’ll say it — tip o’ the hat to President Obama for signing off on the mission.”

That flicker of decency and rationality, unfortunately, is a limited occurrence on the right. [See AJ Strata for a very classy post that I hadn’t seen before.] Blackfive reacts to the successful resolution — without paying a ransom and with minimal violence (and at that only affecting the criminals themselves) — of an international hostage crisis thusly:

Looks like we got in the game, freed the captain and whacked three of the four bad guys. Well done.

Our country and it’s [sic] leader especially are getting Joe Biden’s promised tests. The pirates didn’t hit any US flagged ships until now and they and many other bad actors will be looking to see if there are any teeth left in the big dog.

Again, this is after the captain was rescued unharmed, three of the four pirates were killed and the fourth taken into custody, and the ship returned to its proper owners.

Blackfive reader Ken nods his head:

… I totally agree with your points. Obama has presented a weak image to the world and all of the bad actors are responding as expected.

Ed Morrissey is another one who would have been happier had this incident been handled in a more confrontational way:

From now on, though, the “negotiations” should be us telling the pirates and their envoys that if they surrender, we’ll let them live.  If not, no quarter.  That should be our first and last offer.  If we keep dancing around with Somali “elders” and treat pirates like bank robbers, we’re going to be doing a lot more of these negotiations in the future.

The most sarcastic words I can come up with are just totally inadequate as a response to this. All I can say is that I am happy that Captain Phillips’ family will not be standing in a graveyard watching his coffin being lowered into the ground, and that all four of the pirates have either been killed or captured. That’s good enough for me.

3 Responses to “Ship Captain Free; Three Pirates Killed, One Captured”

  1. TigerHawk says:

    It certainly was a “best case” outcome, right down to killing three of the pirates on the spot and capturing the last for interrogation. The question remains, though, whether the remedy of recovering the captain — an unalloyed good thing, to be sure — and the killing of these particular pirates is adequate to restore our deterrence. If not, we will be left with interdiction, which is not always going to go so well.

  2. Chief says:

    First, no matter how good a sharpshooter may be, shooting from a moving platform (which a ship at sea is) is incredibly difficult. Killing the 3 intended targets while not hitting the Captain is either very good shooting or very lucky shooting.

    Second, now that the US has intervened, does that make us Enemy Number One for the rest of the pirates, or might they leave us alone. Does that mean we need to put “ship marshals” on all US flag vessels transiting those waters, along with a couple of deck mounted rapid fire guns?

  3. Macswain says:

    The right’s behavior on this issue was absolutely abhorrent. They rushed or “Rush-ed” to preposition themselves to grasp at a political opportunity they envisioned coming upon Captain Phillips’ death. They would’ve loved Phillips as a martyr. They were setting up Phillips’ anticipated death as more important than any of the 4,000 plus dead Americans in Iraq or hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis.

    We all know it was a kick in the gut to many of them when they heard “Capt. Phillips Rescued!!!”

    In reality, this rescue is not Obama’s success … it only seems so because of the political positioning of the right and a media that banked on Phillips’ death. Likewise, Black Hawk Down wasn’t Clinton’s failure and the Iranian hostage rescue attempt wasn’t Carter’s failure.


  1. Buck Naked Politics - It's Just a Reflex: Capt. Phillips Rescued from Somali Pirates Following Obama's Orders for "Decisive Action"; Wingnuts Decry Obama Anyway...…

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