US Navy rescues captive seaman

Three pirates killed, one captured after seaborne operation.
Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips shakes hands with the commander of the USS Bainbridge. Courtesy of AFP/Getty.
Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips shakes hands with the commander of the USS Bainbridge. Courtesy of AFP/Getty.

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The captain of the Maersk Alabama, who was held captive by pirates just a few miles off the Somalian coast for five days, has been freed by the US Navy.

In a dramatic end to a stand-off that highlighted the complications of dealing with small groups of determined men despite overwhelming firepower, US snipers shot three of the pirates after it was deemed that the captain, Richard Phillips, was in immediate danger. The fourth pirate, who was attempting to negotiate with an FBI team on board the USS Bainbridge at the time, was taken into custody.

Phillips had previously attempted to escape the pirates by jumping overboard, but had quickly been hauled back onto the 28-foot lifeboat by his captors.

"I'm just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, and those who brought me home," Phillips reportedly said to Maersk Line CEO John Reinhart.

The deaths of the pirates mark the second violent intervention by Western armed forces in the last week, after French commandos stormed a captured private yacht, an action that resulted in the death of a French national.

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