This undated image shows the 17,000-ton container ship Maersk Alabama, when it was operating under the name Maersk Alva, which has been hijacked by Somalia pirates with 20 crew members aboard, Wednesday April 8, 2009, while sailing from Salalah in Oman to the Kenyan port of Mombassa via Djibouti.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)
NAIROBI, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The hijacked U.S. ship freed by its crew is sailing towards the Kenyan port city of Mombasa where it's due on Sunday, a regional maritime official said on Friday.
But Captain Richard Phillips, who was snatched by the hijackers in the struggle, was still held on a lifeboat the attackers took from Maersk Alabama.
Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips is seen at his home in Underhill, Vermont in this undated photo provided by his family April 8, 2009.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Andrew Mwangura, East Africa's Coordinator of
Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said the Maersk Alabama cargo ship said is
sailing to Mombasa under armed guard.
"The Maersk Alabama is expected dock at the port of
Mombasa either on Saturday evening or early Sunday," Mwangura told Xinhua by
The pirates are holding Captain Phillips hostage in a
lifeboat around 300 miles east of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
They attacked his freighter as it carried food aid
for Somalia and Uganda to Mombasa in Kenya.
The crew of 20 Americans managed to retake control of
the Danish-operated vessel and have been trying to negotiate their captain's
release. "We are not afraid of the Americans," one of the pirates reportedly
told reporters by satellite phone.
Maritime officials have said negotiations could be
lengthy, with the pirates likely to want a hefty ransom for the captain as well
as compensation for a boat that was wrecked in the attack.
The cargo ship, carrying food aid destined for
Somalia and Uganda, was taken about 500 km off Somalia's coast in the early
hours of Wednesday.
Reports say the ship's lifeboat has run out of fuel,
other pirates are too nervous to help them due to the presence of foreign naval
ships, and the USS Bainbridge destroyer is up close.
The head of the US Central Command, Gen. David
Petraeus, said more ships would be sent to the area to ensure that there is
capability that might be needed over the course of the coming days. Washington
says it was seeking a peaceful solution, but was not ruling out any option in
Some political observers believe the additional ships
are a show of force in response to a rise in the number of attacks and the first
one on a U.S.-flagged ship. The move is expected to give the U.S. military more
eyes on the threatened area to act as a deterrent to future pirates attacks.
A spokesman for the Maersk Alabama cargo ship Kevin
Speers said the USS Bainbridge, part of a coalition naval force sent to combat
piracy in the region, arrived early Thursday morning and had made contact with
Somali pirates have stepped up their attacks in
recent weeks after a brief lull. The Maersk Alabama was the sixth ship to have
been seized since Saturday.
The Kenyan port city of Mombasa, south of the Somalia
coast, is a vital hub for receiving food assistance for Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda,
Somalia and Kenya.
Pirates typically hold the ships and crews until
large ransoms are paid by the shipping companies. The attacks are threatening to
destabilize one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
Obama follows pirate attack on U.S. cargo ship closely: advisor
WASHINGTON, Apr. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama is following the pirate attack on a U.S. cargo ship off Somali coast closely, his foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Pentagon officials said a U.S. warship is on its way to the scene. Full story
Crew of hijacked ship regains control from pirates: Pentagon
WASHINGTON, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The Pentagon said on Wednesday that the crew of a hijacked U.S.-flagged ship has retaken their ship and taken one of the four hijackers into custody, CNN, CBS and other U.S. TV networks reported.
Three other pirates were thrown overboard by crew members, Pentagon sources were quoted as saying. Full story