A merchant sea captain who was captured and held by Somali pirates in April was reunited with the US Navy crew and captain who were part of his daring rescue, thanking them for saving him.
Capt Richard Phillips, of Vermont, addressed the crew on the fantail of the USS Bainbridge as they stood at attention in their dress blues. He called them true patriots.
“You are the heroes in the story involving me. And I just want to thank the true heroes of my incident and that’s you, the crew of the USS Bainbridge,” he said.
Despite his ordeal, the 54-year-old Phillips said he plans to return to his old ship the Maersk Alabama in March.
On Wednesday, pirates attacked the ship for the second time in seven months but were turned away. But Phillips declined to talk specifically about the latest attack on the Maersk Alabama.
“I’ve never had misgivings about going to sea,” he said at a news conference later.
In the April incident, Phillips was held in an orange, boot-shaped lifeboat for five days after pirates boarded his ship. Navy SEALS ended his captivity with three pinpoint shots that killed three pirates in the lifeboat.
The SEALs, who are not members of the ship’s crew, did not attend yesterday’s reunion.
Phillips arrived at the ceremony on the guided-missile destroyer with his wife, mother and sister-in-law. He handed out commemorative coins to some members of the crew, which totals nearly 300.