April 12, 2009

Navy Seals kill pirates, rescue American captain

POLITICS - Today Barack Obama approved a daring rescue operation to save an American captain who has been held hostage by pirates during a five-day standoff. The captain was freed unharmed and three of his captors were killed in bloody shootout between the world's third largest Navy (Britain's and Russia's navies are bigger) and Somali pirates in a lifeboat far off the Horn of Africa.

Capt. Richard Phillips was in "imminent danger" of being killed, but United States Special Operations Navy Seals shot the pirates in the evening operation and was freed at approx. 7:19 PM local time. Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was uninjured during the several minutes of gunfire and is now resting comfortably on a U.S. warship after receiving a medical exam.

Five days ago Phillips had offered himself as a hostage so the rest of his crew could go free and had been held hostage since then. "I'm just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home," said Phillips by phone.

Crew members say their ordeal began Wednesday when Somali pirates hauled themselves up from a small boat bobbing on the surface of the Indian Ocean 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.

At the time the closest U.S. warship was over 550 km away.

Phillips was then held hostage in an enclosed lifeboat that was closely watched by three arriving U.S. warships and a helicopter in an increasingly tense standoff. The pirates were believed armed with pistols and AK-47 assault rifles.

Two days ago on Friday, Phillips jumped out of the lifeboat and tried to swim for his freedom but was recaptured when a pirate fired an automatic weapon at him.

"This was an incredible team effort, and I am extremely proud of the tireless efforts of all the men and women who made this rescue possible" says Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

A spokesman for the increasingly well-organized Somali pirates, Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old pirate, said that the killing of the three pirates was "a painful experience." and "This is unfortunate action and our friends should have done more to kill the captain before they were killed. This will be a good lesson for us."

Residents of Harardhere, a pirate stronghold, were gathering in the streets after news of the captain's release, saying they fear pirates may now retaliate against some of the 200 hostages they still hold.

Pirates are holding about a dozen ships with more than 200 crew members. Hostages are from Bulgaria, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Tuvalu and Ukraine, among other countries, waiting for their ransoms to be paid.


  1. Not to be a nitpicker, but women did not figure in this episode, unless we include the female 'conflict resolution''risk reduction' attitude which delayed action against the pirates for five days. Laughable to waste words mentioning 'women' if nothing else. For your information, only 1 out of 10 of those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq are female. At best, 16 percent of the US military is female. And none of those are, have been or ever will ever be a Seal.

  2. I don't know where you got the information that the British and Russian navies are bigger than those of the United States, but you are wrong.'s-largest-navy.html


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