The U.S. Navy and
the FBI say they are working to free the American captain of a cargo ship being
held hostage by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
The pirates briefly
hijacked the container ship Maersk
Alabama on Wednesday, and then took Captain Richard Phillips captive as
they escaped aboard a lifeboat after the ship's crew re-took control of the
A U.S. warship, the USS
Bainbridge, arrived at the scene early Thursday. Officials will not say
exactly how close it is to the lifeboat, but several sources say it is close
enough to see the small craft drifting in the Indian Ocean.
Clinton: lifeboat has run out of
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters the
lifeboat appears to have run out of fuel and "the Navy is there." An FBI
spokesman said a hostage negotiation team is "fully engaged" with the military
in trying to free Phillips.
One of the pirates onboard the lifeboat told
the Reuters news agency they are "surrounded by warships and do not have time to
Shipping company: captain's return is top
The shipping company says the captain's return
is its top priority. It said the "most recent contact" indicates that he is
The 17,000-ton container vessel was carrying emergency food
aid to Mombasa, Kenya.
The ship was the sixth vessel seized in the region
within a week but it was the first American-registered vessel to be hijacked by
the pirates operating off the coast of East Africa.
The pirates, who
operate from bases on Somalia's east coast, are currently holding more than a
dozen ships and their crews.
information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.