Twenty Americans aboard, first attack on a US-flagged ship in 200 years
A US-flagged vessel, the 17,000 ton container ship Maersk Alabama, has been seized by Somali pirates. Two of the twenty Americans aboard, Captain Richard Phillips and Chief Mate Shane Murphy, are graduates of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay. Murphy's father, Joseph Murphy, is a professor at MMA and teaches anti-piracy tatics. Phillips of Underhill, VT graduated in 1979 and Murphy, second in command aboard the Maersk Alabama, graduated from the school in 2001.
The hijacking occurred hundreds of miles from the closest American military vessel and 400 miles east of Mogadishu in the Indian Ocean. There are reports that British maritime officials were able to make contact with the ship and were told that everyone aboard is okay.
Crew retakes control from pirates
The ship, the sixth taken by pirates in a week, was carrying emergency relief supplies to Mombasa, Kenya according to a spokesman from the container shipping company.
According to President Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs, "Our top priority is the personal safety of the crew members on board."
"The crew is back in control of the ship," one U.S. official said at midday, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak on the record. "It's reported that one pirate is on board under crew control - the other three were trying to flee," the official said.