Freighter captain rescued from pirates by SD-based ship

An American freighter captain rescued from pirates Sunday off the Somali coast is reportedly resting comfortably aboard a San Diego-based amphibious assault ship.

The USS Boxer has Marines from Camp Pendleton aboard, including residents of both San Diego and Orange counties, the Orange County Register reported. It gets some of its munitions from the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, near Long Beach.

The 844-foot long Boxer, which is leading an international anti-piracy task force, is assisting the Bainbridge. The Boxer is a small aircraft carrier that has more than 1,800 Marines aboard, mostly from Camp Pendleton, the Register reported.

According to the newspaper, the ship was involved in the Iraq War, and has Harrier attack planes, Super Cobra attack helicopters and Sea Sparrow missiles.

Capt. Richard Phillips, a 53-year-old Vermont resident, was rescued in a military operation in the Indian Ocean ending a four-day ordeal. Three pirates were killed.

A Navy vice admiral in the operation, William E. Gortney, said today a fourth pirate was on board a Navy ship when negotiations broke down and Naval commanders made the decision to send Navy Seals to rescue Phillips.

The rescue operation was approved by President Obama and carried out by Navy Seals, but details were not immediately disclosed. It wasn’t known if the captain suffered injuries or was simply treated for exposure.

On Wednesday, Phillips allowed the pirates to take him hostage in exchange for the safety of the crew of the American-flagged container ship MV Maersk Alabama.

He tried to escape Friday by swimming toward U.S. warships, but was pulled back aboard the pirates’ small boat within seconds.

The freighter, carrying humanitarian aid, has arrived at its destination in Kenya. Crewmembers reportedly hoisted an American flag to celebrate Phillips’ release.

There have been reports that talks were under way with an intermediary of the pirates, but there have also been reports that those talks broke down before Phillips’ rescue. The pirates reportedly sought $2 million in ransom.

Saturday, the pirates fired warning shots at a surveillance vessel from the USS Bainbridge, a destroyer in the same area as the Boxer. The Navy did not return fire, but determined the captain was unharmed, and the standoff continued.

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Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=3832

Posted by Pat Sherman on Apr 13, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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