Maersk Alabama hijacking
||It has been suggested that Shane Murphy (captain) be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since July 2011.|
The Maersk Alabama hijacking was a series of events involving piracy that began with four Somali pirates seizing the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama 240 nautical miles (440 km; 280 mi) southeast of the Somali port city of Eyl. This event ended after a rescue effort by U.S. troops on 12 April 2009. It was the first successful pirate seizure of a ship registered under the American flag since the early 19th century. It was the sixth vessel in a week to be attacked by pirates who had previously extorted ransoms in the tens of millions of dollars.
Timeline of events 
The crew members of the Alabama had received anti-piracy training from union training schools, and had drilled aboard the ship a day previously. Their training included the use of small arms, anti-terror, basic safety, first aid, and other security-related courses. When the pirate alarm sounded early on Wednesday, 8 April, Chief Engineer Mike Perry brought 14 members of the crew into a "secure room" that the engineers had been in the process of fortifying for just such a purpose. As the pirates approached, the remaining crew fired flares; in addition, Chief Engineer Perry and 1st A/E Matt Fisher swung the ship's rudder, which swamped the pirate skiff.
Nonetheless, the ship was boarded. Chief Perry initially had taken main engine control away from the bridge and 1st A/E Matt Fisher had taken control of the steering gear. Chief Perry then shut down all ship systems and the entire vessel "went black." The pirates captured Capt. Richard Phillips and several other crew members minutes after boarding, but soon found that they could not control the ship.
Chief Perry remained outside the secure room lying in wait, knife in hand, for a visit from the pirates who were trying to locate the missing crew members in order to gain control of the ship and presumably sail it to Somalia. Perry tackled the ringleader of the pirates and took him prisoner after a cat-and-mouse chase in a darkened engine room. The seamen on watch at the time stabbed one pirate in the hand.
The crew attempted to exchange the pirate they had captured for the captain, but the exchange went awry and after the crew released their captive, the pirates refused to honor the agreement. Capt. Phillips escorted the pirates to a lifeboat to show them how to operate it where they fled with the Captain.
The Alabama was then escorted from the scene under armed guard towards its original destination of Mombasa where Captain Larry D. Aasheim retook command of the ship. Captain Phillips had relieved Captain Aasheim nine days earlier. CNN and Fox News quoted sources stating that the pirates' strategy was to await the arrival of additional hijacked vessels carrying more pirates and additional hostages to use as human shields.
A stand-off ensued between the USS Bainbridge, USS Halyburton and the pirates' lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama from 9 April 2009, where they held the captain of the ship, Richard Phillips, hostage. The lifeboat itself was covered and contained plenty of food and water but lacked basic comforts, including a toilet or ventilation. The Bainbridge, was equipped with ScanEagle and lifeboats. The USS Halyburton held two SH-60B helicopters onboard. Both vessels stayed several hundred yards away, out of the pirates' range of fire. A P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft secured aerial footage and reconnaissance. Radio communication between the two ships was established. Four foreign vessels held by pirates headed towards the lifeboat. A total of 54 hostages were on two of the ships, citizens of China, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Tuvalu, Indonesia and Taiwan.
|This article is outdated. (May 2013)|
On 10 April 2009, Phillips attempted to escape from the lifeboat but was recaptured after the captors fired shots. The pirates then threw a phone – and a two-way radio dropped to them by the U.S. Navy – into the ocean, fearing the Americans were somehow using the equipment to give instructions to the captain. The U.S. dispatched another warship, amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, to the site off the Horn of Africa. The pirates' strategy was to link up with their comrades, who were holding various other hostages, and to get Phillips to Somalia where they could hide him and make a rescue more difficult for the Americans. Anchoring near shore would allow them to land quickly if attacked. Negotiations were ongoing between the pirates and the captain of the Bainbridge, who was under the direction of FBI hostage negotiators. The captors were also communicating with other pirate vessels by satellite phone.
However, negotiations broke down hours after the pirates fired on the USS Halyburton not long after sunrise on Saturday. The American frigate did not return fire and "did not want to escalate the situation". No crew members of the USS Halyburton were injured from the gunfire, as the shots were fired haphazardly by a pirate from the front hatch of the lifeboat. Videos of the shooting incident filmed by the USS Halyburton's shipboard intelligence team have been shown in documentaries of the hijacking that were broadcast on the Discovery Channel and History.
"We are safe and we are not afraid of the Americans. We will defend ourselves if attacked", one of the pirates told Reuters by satellite phone. Phillips' family had gathered at his farmhouse in Vermont awaiting a resolution to the situation.
On Saturday, 11 April 2009, the Maersk Alabama arrived in the port of Mombasa, Kenya under U.S. military escort. An 18-man security team was on board. The FBI then secured the ship as a crime scene.
Commander Castellano stated that as the winds picked up, tensions rose among the pirates and "we calmed them" and persuaded the pirates to be towed by the Bainbridge.
On Sunday, 12 April 2009, Capt. Richard Phillips was rescued, reportedly in good condition, from his pirate captors. The commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, Vice Admiral William E. Gortney, reported the rescue began when Commander Frank Castellano, captain of the Bainbridge, determined that Phillips' life was in imminent danger and ordered the action. U.S. President Barack Obama had previously reaffirmed Navy standing orders to take action if it was determined the hostage's life was in immediate danger.
U.S. Navy SEAL snipers, reportedly from the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, on the Bainbridge's fantail opened fire and killed the three pirates remaining in the lifeboat with a simultaneous volley of three shots. The SEALs had arrived Friday afternoon after being parachuted into the water near the Halyburton, which later joined with the Bainbridge. At the time, the Bainbridge had the lifeboat under tow, approximately 25 to 30 yards astern.
The U.S. Navy evacuated Captain Phillips via rigid-hulled inflatable boat to the USS Bainbridge and then flew him by helicopter to the USS Boxer for medical evaluation. In response to the rescue, Somali pirate commander Abdi Garad issued a threat to attack American interests in the region.
The bodies of the three dead pirates were turned over by the U.S. Navy to unidentified recipients in Somalia the last week of April 2009.
Pirate trial 
The surviving pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse was brought to New York City to face trial on charges that include piracy under the law of nations, also conspiracy to seize a ship by force, conspiracy to commit hostage-taking, and firearms-related charges. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 33 years, 9 months in prison on 16 February 2011.
On 27 April 2009, Maersk Alabama crew member Richard E. Hicks filed a lawsuit against his employer, Waterman Steamship Corporation and Maersk Line, Ltd., for knowingly sending him into pirate-infested waters near Somalia. Houston attorney Terry Bryant, who is representing Richard Hicks, said the ship owners knowingly exposed their employees to imminent danger and took no steps to provide appropriate levels of security and safety for their employees.
Captain Richard Phillips 
Soon after the rescue, President Obama said, "I share the country's admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans." On Saturday, 9 May, Capt. and Mrs. Phillips visited with President Obama in the Oval Office. A picture was released, but no details of the discussion.
Following the hijacking, Phillips published a book titled A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea. Columbia Pictures optioned the book and acquired the life rights to Phillips in spring 2009. In March 2011, it was announced that Tom Hanks would star in a Sony Pictures film based on the hijacking and Phillips' book, scripted by Billy Ray, and produced by the team behind The Social Network. The film, entitled Captain Phillips, is scheduled for release in October 2013.
Personal life 
Lifeboat on display 
The owners of U.S. Maersk Alabama donated the bullet-marked 5-ton fiberglass lifeboat upon which the pirates held Captain Phillips hostage to the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, in August 2009. The lifeboat had recently been on loan to National Geographic for its "Real Pirates" exhibition at the Nauticus marine science museum in Norfolk, Virginia.
Also on display at the Museum is a Mark 11 Mod 0 (SR-25) sniper rifle of the type used by the U.S. Navy SEALS who killed the pirates and freed Captain Phillips.
See also 
- List of ships attacked by Somali pirates
- List of ships held by Somali pirates
- Combined Task Force 150 and Combined Task Force 151, coalition force counter-piracy operations in the region.
- Dai Hong Dan, a similar incident involving the hijacking of a North Korean ship.
- "Fatbeard", a South Park parody of the incident.
- Joint Special Operations Command
- Operation Atalanta a campaign of the European Union to stop the piracy off the Somali coast.
- Operation Dawn 9: Gulf of Aden, a naval operation of the Royal Malaysian Navy to rescue Malaysian flagged-tanker.
- Operation Dawn of Gulf of Aden, a similar rescue of a South Korean-operated tanker.
- Piracy in Somalia
- Second Barbary War
- Sanders, Edmund; Barnes, Julian E. (9 April 2009). "Somalia pirates hold U.S. captain". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Many news reports referenced the last pirate seizure as being during the Second Barbary War in 1815; however, other incidents had occurred as late as 1821. See:
- McShane, Larry (8 April 2009). "Americans take back cargo ship Maersk Alabama after it was hijacked by Somali pirates". New York Daily News. Retrieved 8 April 2009.
- Davis, William (2 May 2005). The pirates Laffite. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 457. ISBN 978-0-15-100403-4.
- Porter, David (1875). Memoir of Commodore David Porter. p. 291.
- Huang-chih, Chiang (7 September 2009). "Does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs care about ‘Win Far’?". Taipei Times.
- "Somali pirates hijack Danish ship". BBC news. 8 April 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2009.
- "Ship carrying 20 Americans believed hijacked off Somalia". CNN. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
- Another Miracle Brought to You By America's Unions (This Time With Pirates!) | Mother Jones
- AFL-CIO NOW BLOG | Union Crew Avoids Pirate Takeover, But Ship’s Captain Held Hostage
- Cummins, Chip; Childress, Sarah (16 April 2009). "On the Maersk: 'I Hope if I Die, I Die a Brave Person'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
- "Africa , FBI in hostage talks with Somalis". BBC News. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
- "Cargo ship heads for Kenya". CNN. 8 April 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
- "U.S. Warship Shadows Somali Pirates With Hostage". Associated Press. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2009.[dead link]
- McKenzie, David (10 April 2009). "Pirates raising the stakes". CNN. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- "14 ships, 260 crew held by Somali pirates". Fox News. Associated Press. 8 April 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- [[Rebecca Roberts|Roberts, Rebecca]] (11 April 2009). "Mariner Details Life Aboard A Lifeboat". NPR.
- Houreld, Katharine; Muhumed, Malkhadir M. (10 April 2009). "Pirates recapture US hostage after escape attempt". Associated Press. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- "Pirates Hold American Captain Hostage; Negotiations Continue for Release". The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Serge F. Kovaleski, Mark Mazzetti; Liz Robbins (11 April 2009). "Negotiations Break Down in Standoff With Pirates". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Rice, Xan; Weaver, Matthew (10 April 2009). "Somali pirates vow to take on US military might if attacked". Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Gaskell, Stephanie (12 April 2009). "WRAPUP 10-U.S. Navy rescues captain, kills Somali pirates". New York: Thomson Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN1134689120090412?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=10112.
- "Commander Castellano interviewed by Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News". MSNBC. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
- Verjee, Zain; Starr, Barbara (12 April 2009). "Captain jumps overboard, SEALs shoot pirates, official says". CNN. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- "US captain held by pirates freed". BBC News. 12 April 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
- "Official: US sea captain faced imminent danger". Associated Press. 12 April 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Mikkelsen, Randall (12 April 2009). "US acted after pirates aimed at ship captain". Reuters. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Gaskell, Stephanie (14 April 2009). "Three Navy SEALS freed Capt. Phillips from pirates with simultaneous shots from 100 feet away". New York Daily News. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
- McCrummen, Stephanie; Tyson, Ann Scott (12 April 2009). "U.S. Ship Captain Rescued From Pirates by Navy Seals". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- Barrett, Devlin; Hays, Tom (16 April 2009). "Source: Captured Somali pirate to face trial in NY". Associated Press. Retrieved 17 April 2009.[dead link]
- "Pirates Issue New Threat Over US Hostage". Sky News. 11 April 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
- Washington Post, "Navy Returns Bodies Of 3 Somali Pirates", 1 May 2009, p. 12.
- Hays, Tom (16 February 2011). "Somali pirate gets over 33 years in prison".
- Benjamin Weiser (21 April 209). "Pirate Suspect Charged as Adult in New York". The New York Times.
- Bryant, Terry. press release.
- Kennedy, Helen (9 April 2009). "Who is Richard Phillips? Captain of the Maersk Alabama and a hero on the high seas". New York Daily News. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
- "Obama vows to fight piracy, salutes freed U.S. captain". Reuters, 12 April 2009.
- Charlie Savage "Richard Phillips Visits the Oval Office" The New York Times The Caucus blog, 9 May 2009 2:38 pm. Retrieved 5/9/09.
- Kit, Borys. "Tom Hanks to Play Capt. Richard Phillips in Somali Pirate Hostage Story," Hollywood Reporter (15 March 2011).
- Lord Paluzzi, Jennifer. "Wanted: Farmhouse Suitable for Tom Hanks". The Westborough Daily Voice. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Captain's Book Details How He Foiled and Infuriated Somali Pirates". ABC News. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- Treadway, Tyler (14 August 2009). "Bullet-marked lifeboat from pirate kidnapping arrives to applause at new home at SEAL museum in Fort Pierce". TCPalm. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- "Museum gets lifeboat from pirate hostage rescue"[dead link]. The Miami Herald posted 13 August 2009.
- Trejos, Nancy (19 March 2010). "'Real Pirates' exhibit at Nauticus marine science museum in Norfolk". The Washington Post.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: MV Maersk Alabama|
- M.E.B.A. Marine Officer Magazine – Summer 2009 edition – "Don't Give Up the Ship: Quick Thinking and a Boatload of Know-how Saves the Maersk Alabama" Detailed 12 page description of hijacking
- Hijackers on Cargo Ship: 'They Ran' – Associated Press on YouTube
- U.S. Crew Re-Captures Ship From Pirates at ABC News
- Maersk Alabama News Overview (Video)
- 'Reelz Channel'
- Capt Phillips on The Daily Show