Somali pirates and their hostage American sea captain were adrift on Friday in a lifeboat off the Horn of Africa, shadowed by a US destroyer with more warships on the way in a US show of force. The US brought in FBI hostage negotiators yesterday to work with the military in trying to secure the release of Capt Richard Phillips. An official said the bandits were in talks with the Navy about resolving the standoff peacefully.
The freighter that was the target of the pirates steamed away on Thursday from the lifeboat under armed US Navy guard, with all of its crew safe except for the captive captain. The pirates tried to hijack the US-flagged Maersk Alabama on Wednesday, but Phillips thwarted the takeover by telling his crew of about 20 to lock themselves in a room, the crew told stateside relatives.
The crew later overpowered some of the pirates, but Phillips, 53, surrendered himself to the bandits to safeguard his men, and four of the Somalis fled with him to an enclosed lifeboat, the relatives said.
Phillips has a radio and contacted the Navy and the crew of the Alabama to say he is unharmed, the Maersk shipping company said in a statement, adding that the lifeboat is within sight of the USS Bainbridge, the naval destroyer that arrived on the scene earlier on Friday.