A US Navy destroyer reached waters off Somalia yesterday to help free a US ship captain taken hostage by pirates in the first seizure of US citizens by the increasingly bold sea gangs.
Gunmen briefly hijacked the 17,000-tonne Maersk Alabama freighter on Wednesday, but the 20 US crew retook control after a confrontation far out in the Indian Ocean, where pirates have captured another five vessels in a week.
Second mate Ken Quinn told CNN that the pirates were holding the captain on the ship’s lifeboat and the crew were trying to negotiate his release.
The Danish-owned freighter’s operator, Maersk Line Ltd, said the US Navy warship Bainbridge arrived on the scene before dawn yesterday.
CNN said the lifeboat, with the captain and four pirates aboard, was within sight of the Alabama. But a regional maritime official said that might have changed.