Hijacked Cargo Ship Bound for Kenya, Pirates Still Hold Captain
The cargo ship Maersk Alabama is heading for port in Kenya, a day after being hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
The US ship from Norfolk, Virginia, was carrying food aid to refugees in Kenya when it was attacked by pirates. It was the first time in recent history that a US-flagged ship had been targeted in this way.
FBI negotiators are trying to secure the release of the Maersk Alabama's captain, who is still being held by the Somali hijackers in a lifeboat.
Capt. Richard Phillips "remains hostage but is unharmed," Maersk spokesman Kevin Speers said Thursday morning.
"The safe return of the captain is our foremost priority," Speers said.
Four gang members are apparently holding Richard Phillips after he volunteered to be a hostage for the sake of his crew.
Maersk said its crew regained control of the 17,000-tonne freighter on Wednesday when the pirates left the ship with the captain.
Reached by Reuters via satellite phone, the pirates on the lifeboat sounded desperate as they watched a U.S. warship and other foreign naval vessels close to them. 'We are surrounded by warships and don't have time to talk,' one said. 'Please pray for us.'