President Barack Obama said he was “very pleased” that US ship captain Richard Phillips had been rescued by US naval forces, and pledged to combat the rise of piracy in the region.
“We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region,” said Obama on Sunday in his first public statement on the situation.
“To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes,” he added.
Somali pirates are currently holding more than a dozen other vessels, along with more than 200 hostages taken in their hijacking efforts. “I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is safely on board the USS Boxer,” Obama said, referring to the US warship onto which Phillips was transferred after the rescue after the tense five-day hostage crisis involving Somali pirates.
The captain’s safety “has been our principal concern, and I know this is a welcome relief to his family and his crew,” the US president added.
The US Navy dramatically ended a high-seas standoff in an operation that killed three of his four captors. Phillips had been held aboard the lifeboat since the pirates attacked his cargo ship, the US-flagged Maersk Alabama, on Wednesday.