U.S. President Barack Obama
says he is determined to halt piracy in the shipping lanes off the coast of
Somalia. Mr. Obama spoke one day after the dramatic rescue of an American cargo
ship captain who was held hostage by Somali pirates for five days.
Richard Phillips was rescued on Sunday after members of an elite U.S. Navy
unit shot three of his captors.
President Obama ordered the military to take action if it was believed that
Phillips' life was in danger. He said he is pleased with the results, noting
that the captain's safety was his top concern throughout the standoff. "I am
very proud of the efforts of the U.S. military and many other departments and
agencies that worked tirelessly to resolve this situation," he said.
Mr. Obama said the American people also have reason to be proud of the
captain who offered himself as a hostage to protect the crew of his cargo ship.
"I share our nation's admiration for Captain Phillips' courage and leadership
and selfless concern for his crew," he said.
The president's first public comments on the dramatic rescue came on Monday
at an event at the U.S. Department of Transportation. His initial response was
delivered Sunday in the form of a written statement. And in his remarks, the
president made many of the same points.
He vowed again that America will do all it can to end piracy in the region,
working in concert with nations around the world. "We are going to have to
continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks. We have to
continue to be prepared to confront them when they arise. And we have to ensure
that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes," he
President Obama did not refer to a new round of threats from the pirates, who
say they want revenge for the killing of three of their own in the rescue
At the U.S. Defense Department, spokesman Bryan Whitman said there is always
concern that the use of force by the military could lead to reprisals. But he
said the shootings might make the pirates less inclined to attack ships. He said
that until now, the pirates have been operating almost with impunity. "I think
the actions the United States military took -- the other night, the other day,
yesterday -- could certainly have that affect where people are less inclined to
engage in that type of activity," he said.
Pirates hold more than 230 hostages from several countries. Andrea Phillips,
the wife of the rescued cargo ship captain, says they remain in her
On Monday, she made her first appearance since the rescue. A bad case of
laryngitis prevented her from speaking on her own behalf. Instead, she wrote a
statement that was read by Allison McCool, an employee of the shipping company
that employs her husband. "Andrea wants you all to remember that they are just
one family that has been impacted. There are many more families going through
what the Phillips have endured presently. And those families are in the prayers
of the Phillips family," she said.
It is unclear when Richard Phillips will be reunited with his family,
although they have spoken by telephone. In her statement, Andrea Phillips said
her husband considers the U.S. military to be the real heroes of his ordeal.