Navy operation frees U.S. ship captain, kills three pirates

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by DipDog3, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. DipDog3 macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002

    US sea captain freed in swift firefight


    By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY and LARA JAKES, Associated Press Writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy And Lara Jakes, Associated Press Writers
    18 mins ago

    MOMBASA, Kenya – An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday in a swift firefight that killed three of the four Somali pirates who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, the ship's owner said.

    A senior U.S. intelligence official said a pirate who had been involved in negotiations to free Capt. Richard Phillips but who was not on the lifeboat was in custody.

    Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was safely transported to a Navy warship nearby.

    Maersk Line Limited President and CEO John Reinhart said in a news release that the U.S. government informed the company around 1:30 p.m. EDT Sunday that Phillips had been rescued. Reinhart said the company called Phillips' wife, Andrea, to tell her the news.

    The U.S. official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.

    When Phillips' crew heard the news aboard their ship in the port of Mombasa, they placed an American flag over the rail of the top of the Maersk Alabama and whistled and pumped their fists in the air. Crew fired a bright red flare into the sky from the ship.

    A government official and others in Somalia with knowledge of the situation had reported hours earlier that negotiations for Phillips' release had broken down.

    Talks to free him began Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer. The pirates had threatened to kill Phillips if attacked.

    Three U.S. warships were within easy reach of the lifeboat on Saturday. The U.S. Navy had assumed the pirates would try to get their hostage to shore, where they can hide him on Somalia's lawless soil and be in a stronger position to negotiate a ransom.

    Maersk Line said before news of the rescue broke that "the U.S. Navy had sight contact" of Phillips — apparently when the pirates opened the hatches.

    Before Phillips was freed, a pirate who said he was associated with the gang that held Phillips, Ahmed Mohamed Nur, told The Associated Press that the pirates had reported that "helicopters continue to fly over their heads in the daylight and in the night they are under the focus of a spotlight from a warship."

    He spoke by satellite phone from Harardhere, a port and pirate stronghold where a fisherman said helicopters flew over the town Sunday morning and a warship was looming on the horizon. The fisherman, Abdi Sheikh Muse, said that could be an indication the lifeboat may be near to shore.

    The district commissioner of the central Mudug region said talks went on all day Saturday, with clan elders from his area talking by satellite telephone and through a translator with Americans, but collapsed late Saturday night.

    "The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.

    Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.

    Phillips' crew of 19 American sailors reached safe harbor in Kenya's northeast port of Mombasa on Saturday night under guard of U.S. Navy Seals, exhilarated by their freedom but mourning the absence of Phillips.

    Crew members said their ordeal had begun with the Somali pirates hauling themselves up from a small boat bobbing on the surface of the Indian Ocean far below.

    As the pirates shot in the air, Phillips told his crew to lock themselves in a cabin and surrendered himself to safeguard his men, crew members said.

    Phillips was then held hostage in an enclosed lifeboat that was closely watched by U.S. warships and a helicopter in an increasingly tense standoff. On Friday, the French navy freed a sailboat seized off Somalia last week by other pirates, but one of the five hostages was killed.

    Phillips jumped out of the lifeboat Friday and tried to swim for his freedom but was recaptured when a pirate fired an automatic weapon at or near him, according to U.S. Defense Department officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the unfolding operations.

    Early Saturday, the pirates holding Phillips in the lifeboat fired a few shots at a small U.S. Navy vessel that had approached, a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    The official said the U.S. sailors did not return fire, the Navy vessel turned away and no one was hurt. He said the vessel had not been attempting a rescue. The pirates are believed armed with pistols and AK-47 assault rifles.

    "When I spoke to the crew, they won't consider it done when they board a plane and come home," Maersk President John Reinhart said from Norfolk, Virginia before news of Phillips' rescue. "They won't consider it done until the captain is back, nor will we."

    In Phillips' hometown, the Rev. Charles Danielson of the St. Thomas Church said before the news broke that the congregation would continue to pray for Phillips and his family, who are members, and he would encourage "people to find hope in the triumph of good over evil."

    Reinhart said he spoke with Phillips' wife, who is surrounded by family and two company employees who were sent to support her.

    "She's a brave woman," Reinhart said. "And she has one favor to ask: 'Do what you have to do to bring Richard home safely.' That means don't make a mistake, folks. We have to be perfect in our execution."
  2. taracat macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2008
    sydney, australia
    Don't mess with America..

    It's pretty sad though what could potentially happen to other hostages being held.. if only the world was a more peaceful place : (
  3. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    All that's happened is that it's cost a lot of money and a few people are dead. It's sad that Somalis died. This hasn't addressed the reasons behind the Somali pirate attacks. They'll continue to happen.
  4. StealthRider macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2002
    Yokosuka, Japan
    Better the Somalis than the ship captain. They fired on a warship with AK-47s, Darwin says they must die.
  5. taracat macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2008
    sydney, australia
    Agreed. These people must be pretty desperate to attempt this sort of thing.

    How do you stop a person with no hope ?

    Amazing job to the US navy seals for pulling off a miracle saving Capt. Phillips though. One brave soul. .
  6. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    Better yet no one at all. Which is best accomplished by addressing the root causes of piracy in Somalia.

    True. Which is inexcusable.

    That's not what Darwin said at all. And unfortunately there's every chance that these young Somali men already had children. Now they have even less of a chance in life.
  7. taracat macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2008
    sydney, australia
    "That's not what Darwin said at all. And unfortunately there's every chance that these young Somali men already had children. Now they have even less of a chance in life"

    I gotta say though as crude and slightly humorous an example that is it's kinda true.. but your dead right in saying this won't be the last.

    So America.. what do YOU do to stop this happening again ?

    I think Obama took a pretty courageous step green lighting this operation and it will probably have the side effect of showing the world that America has once again found it's political confidence to do what is right.
  8. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
  9. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030


    Apr 19, 2008
    Pandora, Home Tree
    They had to pay the piper, for dancing to the tune. Next time, tell the others to leave the ships alone, then no one has to die. ;)
  10. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    You left out the fact that more people could easily have been killed on either side. I think the Navy and the merchant sailors behaved admirably under the circumstances and I fail to see what they could have done differently. This incident may do nothing to change the big picture but that is hardly the fault of any of the actors in the current spectacle.

    if you think that addressing the root causes of piracy will not involve further people dying (whether it be UN peacekeepers, innocent mariners, Somalians or pirates) you're dreaming. Though I share your desire to accomplish these goals without any killing.

    Unfortunately, the pirates are killing their own by keeping food and medical aid from being distributed in Somalia. It's unfortunate that people are being killed over this, but the fact of the matter is that the pirates are exacerbating the horrible conditions that drove them into piracy in the first place, and putting merchant sailors' lives at risk.

    Besides, out of the estimated $80+ million the pirates have gotten in ransoms over the last year or so, how much of that money do you think has gone to feeding most Somalis or stabilizing the country? I can guarantee that it is exactly zero dollars.

    So while I would prefer we could solve this without killing anyone, as long as these pirates continue to operate as they do we have a right and indeed a duty to stop them from harming our own, even if it means killing. They simply can't be allowed free reign to use the threat of force against merchant shipping in the area.

    We need to set up some system of arresting and prosecuting pirates, and more importantly we need to figure out a way to attack the problem from several critical angles - using the Navy to interdict pirates at sea, using combined forces operations to shut down pirate ports, re-establish some indigenous civil authority in lawless areas, and (most importantly), fight the poverty and hunger that drives these people to extreme acts. This is no small task, and even if the UN operated at double its usual speed it will be years before such an effort can really get going in earnest.

    Your earlier post mentioned that all this has "cost a lot of money". Well, when you (quite rightly) pointed out that we needed to focus on the root causes, you are talking about solutions that will make the cost of this rescue look like pocket change. Just trying to put things in perspective.
  11. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    Indeed there could have been. But there wasn't. Which whilst good news does not change the fact that people were killed. Under such circumstances I consider the Go America chest beating that was expressed to be a tad misplaced.

    I think it a tad defeatist to claim that there was no way out of this situation without killing.

    Actors, spectacle. It'd make a great movie wouldn't it?

    I have no idea what this has to do with my sadness at the deaths in this specific incident :confused:. As you've quite rightly addressed these deaths will contribute naught to stabilisation in somalia.

    Most definitely.

    I don't need your guarantees. I never claimed that the pirates are modern day Robin Hoods. I never claimed that they were doing anything admirable. They're a symptom of a country in turmoil.

    I guess it all depends on how much importance one places on merchant ships. Personally I don't think there's many goods that I consume that are that important that lives need be lost to ensure their delivery through those waters.

    Some good broad suggestions here.

    And as you quite rightly pointed out this money that was spent will not contribute to a solution at all. My participation in this thread was likewise to offer some perspective. This incident is all very exciting and good watching, but overall it's just another sad chapter in somalia.
  12. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    yea i agree

    i feel no sympahy

    dont want to get killed, then dont partake in piracy and take hostages
  13. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Glad that the captain wasn't hurt. As for the pirates, good riddance.
  14. TJRiver macrumors 6502


    Jan 14, 2009
    The reasons behind the attacks???? If you decide to steal and engage in piracy, you better be ready to pay the price, rich or poor.
  15. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    Yes, the socioeconomic and political reasons behind the attacks.

    Indeed. However this is a completely different issue to the reasons behind these men entering into piracy. It'd do you well to not confound them in your own head.
  16. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    You're irritated at what you seem to be interpreting as another instance of hyper-patriotism on the part of Americans. Fair enough, I would agree that an out-of context "Go America" does come across as crass.

    But, to be frank, I don't think relief and satisfaction are entirely out of place here. You're showing a great deal of empathy with the pirates, and essentially none when it comes to the sailors on the Maersk Alabama. I am an American. A US-flagged cargo ship was siezed by a gang of desperate, violent men. They failed to hijack the ship, and their attempts to hold the captain hostage and take him back to Somalia, and finally to hold him at gunpoint after refusing to negotiate all failed. The crew of the freighter are safe, as are the naval personnel involved, and the food aid has made it to Kenya. I feel totally justified in expressing satisfaction in these events. The deaths of three of the pirates are a tragedy in their own right, but they must bear some of the responsibility for their own deaths.

    Pragmatism, not defeatism. I think we are right to demand that the pirates surrender themselves and be tried. I think we were right to prevent the lifeboat from drifting into Somalia. Negotiations took place up until the point where the pirates appeared on top of the lifeboat pointing their weapons at the hostage. I think we were right to fire on the pirates when they directly threatened the life of the hostage.

    If the international community wanted to try to avoid all killing and save a lot of money, we could have simply allowed the pirates to take the hostage back to Somalia and paid a ransom for him, hoping he would be returned. BUT we would be empowering the pirates to continue doing what they have been doing, and that, in my mind, would be killing further people as surely as if you or I were pulling the trigger. How are we saving lives by paying ransoms? We are merely trading one high-profile life for another poor nameless one in Somalia.

    I don't want anyone to die, and we (the international community acting through the UN) should attack the problem with the attitude that we aren't going to allow anyone to die. But people are dying in Somalia in great numbers every day, every minute. If we go in there in order to deal with the poverty and lawlessness, it is highly likely that we will be compelled to defend ourselves at some point. What makes you think we can somehow flip a switch and stop that? I'm waiting for you to suggest a "guaranteed nobody gets killed" solution to the problem.

    Your words, not mine. Since when is this new? We can start another thread about movies based on real events and exploitation. I consider this irrelevant. I won't be watching it, at any rate. Unless it has Harrison Ford as the Captain.

    You are expressing empathy with the pirates and suspicion at the activities of the coalition flotilla. I merely wanted to point out that the pirates the Navy killed are murderers. I gather that you are against killing on any level, but you're applying your moral judgements asymmetrically here. You might as well condemn everyone involved.

    Remember that the Maersk Alabama was not bringing anything to you through those waters; it was bringing food aid to Kenya, a nation where we can help the people without having aid workers and soldiers gunned down regularly.

    It may be that some shipping companies are taking excessive risks by not re-routing shipping (presumably at much greater cost). However, your implicit suggestion that we abandon these waters to the pirates is unacceptable. We've already abandoned Somalia to lawless warlords, and now you're suggesting letting them have all the ocean 500 miles out from the coast. What's next?

    Or would you suggest we simply continue to pay ransoms? I suppose we could negotiate a tribute system whereby a ship will be allowed to pass for a few hundred thousand or a couple million dollars. The pirates could then organize into a series de facto city states around the pirate ports and violence, at least on the high seas, might be reduced. I can't say I think that is a good idea.

    Sad indeed.

    You've criticized the current situation. I've proposed a few (admittedly very broad) actions we should take - care to add an alternative to the current situation? How do we avoid killing people here?
  17. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    Where have I said or implied that I lack empathy for the crew or captain. Their experience must have been absolutely horrific and even moreso for the captain to have these men slaughtered in front of him.

    You know my views on this. I couldn't care what nationality someone is.

    I don't disagree with any of this. The fact that I'm sad that there has been deaths in this situation has no bearing on this.

    It's defeatism if you claim there's no other way out of such a situation without the deaths of three individuals. I'll agree however that such terms are entirely subjective.

    How many hostages have somali pirates killed? How many somali pirates have been killed liberating hostages?

    This is a strawman. I agree that there's no switch to stop violence in somalia and to suggest that it's my opinion is cynical hyperbole on your behalf. My point is that the death of these pirates does nothing to address the root cause. Which you yourself have also identified. You're attempting to confound the two issues.

    On the contrary. The first two words were your very own. The latter words I believe are from a military official.



    Who did they kill?

    I'm not asymmetrically applying anything. The death of these men is not justified on the grounds that they may have killed others. That's not logical.

    I don't need to be reminded of that. I was replying to your more general line of argument previously.

    Addressing the root cause of why these men are resorting to piracy. i.e. stabilising the country. Not fighting against it and not doing anything to change it.

    No that doesn't seem like a good idea.

    The same core basic initiatives that help everywhere. Empowering people with the means to escape poverty, attain education, and political stability.
  18. Randman macrumors 65816


    Jul 28, 2008
    Jacksonville, Fla
    I can see a TV movie being made about this already.
  19. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    What are the options?

    Continue to be enablers by paying ransom after ransom? This is not an answer. In fact, it will certainly make things worse.

    Invade Somalia again? Sure, this might be a way to fix the root of the problem but it also might exacerbate it. It would require a massive UN coalition to provide enough stability.

    Control Somalian ports? Seems plausible. Without a place to dock, the pirates have no where to go.

    Establish a policy that if you hijack a U.S. flagged vessel, you will be dealt a quick remorseless death by the Navy. Then it is no longer in the best interest for pirates to hijack a U.S. flagged vessel. I'm not saying this is a good option but it would work.

    Surgical strikes on pirate bases? Certainly this is technically possible (they use standard cell/satellite phones). I'd imagine the number of satellite phones in Somalia is limited. Easy to track down users.

    Pay "tribute". This was done 200 years ago on the other side of Africa (see the "Barbary Wars"). It didn't work.
  20. mac88 macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2008
    Boston, MA.
    About a few days too late IMO. They should have wiped those scum off the face of the Earth when the Capt. jumped out of the boat a few days ago. They should have fired a guided missile at the boat when he jumped off. Their (pirates) incineration from this planet would have sent a clear message to knock this sh@t off. Well I guess extinguishing three off them sends as loud a message as you can. Good job and happy returns home Captain!
  21. bruinsrme macrumors 603


    Oct 26, 2008
    Bravo the the current administration and the to members of the Vessel and support groups involved in returning the captain to his loved ones.

    I feel the decision to move in was the right one.
  22. Aranince macrumors 65816

    Apr 18, 2007
    Good job. The world needs more people like this captain. We don't need sissy talks to solve issues.
  23. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    As well as for the 4th individual. He left the group and gave up. :)

    It seems like there were no other options, then at that point, deadly force was used. Seems reasonable to me.
  24. skunk macrumors G4


    Jun 29, 2002
    Republic of Ukistan
    That's right: negotiation is for girls. Kill! Kill! Kill!
  25. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Quoting the AP article:


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