Wednesday, April 8, 2009

American Crew Battles Somali Pirates

Hey Obama, what are you going to do? These are the first American citizens captured by pirates in about 200 years!
Military Sources Tell CBS News Somali Attacker Taken Hostage, But Ship's Master Still Held Captive

(CBS/AP) The crew of a hijacked U.S. cargo ship is in a standoff with Somali pirates after attempting to retake the vessel, military sources told CBS News correspondent David Martin.
The sources told CBS News that crew members are in control of at least part of the ship after overpowering the pirates and taking one into custody. But the hijackers still held the ship's master hostage. The crew members have been in contact with their families.
There has been no official confirmation regarding the ship's status.
The U.K. Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa) issued a news release earlier Wednesday stating that a Danish-owned, U.S.-operated 17,000 ton container ship was seized in the Indian Ocean approximately 400 miles east of Mogadishu.
Reports coming into the Pentagon carried varying estimates of the number of American crew members. Some said 21, others said 19. It was not immediately clear the nature of the ship's cargo is, although one report said that it might be food aid.
Capt. Shane Murphy, a 2001 graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, was second in command on the ship, the Cape Cod Times reported. It said this information was passed on by Capt. Joseph Murphy, his father, who is a professor at the academy.
The elder Murphy teaches anti-piracy tactics in his maritime security class. He said a company spokesman notified the family Wednesday morning of the incident and at last report the ship was drifting.
Murphy said his son was well aware of the threat of pirates in the area and, while home on a visit only a few weeks ago, had talked with his class about the risk. "He knows the potential danger and he talked with my students about that," Murphy said. "He connected right away with the students."
At least 12 of the Americans aboard the Maersk Alabama are members of the Seafarers International Union, spokesman Jordan Biscardo said. The union is trying to get as much information on the situation as it can, he said.
"It goes without saying we're deeply concerned and we're closely monitoring the story," Biscardo said.
Biscardo would not immediately release the names of the union members aboard the vessel. The Seafarers International Union represents unlicensed United States merchant mariners sailing aboard U.S.-flag vessels. The Maritime Center said the ship had been tentatively identified as the Maersk Alabama, If so, it would be the first U.S.-flag vessel taken by the Somali pirates and the crew would be the first American citizens captured by pirates in about 200 years.

(CBS)In December 2008, Somali pirates chased and shot at a U.S. cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel.
Though the ship is the sixth seized within a week in the dangerous region around Africa, Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said it was the first pirate attack "involving U.S. nationals and a U.S.-flagged vessel in recent memory."

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