UPDATE Maersk: Vessel secured, crewman held hostage
Crew of a U.S.-flag, Maersk-operated containership has regained control of their ship after it was boarded by armed hijackers early Wednesday, the company said.
• U.S.-flagged Maersk vessel hijacked
But it added one crewmember is being held hostage by the pirates who have left the ship, the Maersk Alabama.
The Associated Press, MSNBC, and a knowledgeable source contacted by American Shipper said the crewmember is the ship's captain, Richard Phillips. He is reported to be in a lifeboat with four armed pirates.
The source added that the ship the pirates used to board the Maersk Alabama has sunk, and a naval vessel was about an hour from the scene of the incident. MSNBC said a Navy P-3 surveillance plane and unmanned drones are reportedly overhead feeding video of the scene and monitoring the situation
“The other members of the crew are safe and no injuries have been reported,” said B.J. Talley, general manager, marketing/communications for Maersk Line Ltd., the U.S.-flag shipping arm of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group. “We are working closely with the U.S. military and other government agencies to continue to respond to this situation as it develops further.”
The AP reported that when it called the ship’s satellite phone, an unidentified crewmember said the ship’s captain was being held hostage in a lifeboat by the pirates and that negotiations were underway for his release.
The Maersk Alabama was captured Wednesday morning while 310 miles off the coast of Somalia. It was en route to Mombasa, Kenya with a cargo of food aid and general cargo.
It is the sixth ship seized by Pirate off Somalia in the past week, and the first U.S.-flag vessel seized by pirates during the recent upsurge in piracy off Somalia in recent years.