Obama Praises U.S. Military Rescue of Maersk-Alabama Captain
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 12, 2009 President Barack Obama praised the U.S. military’s rescue of the kidnapped captain of the Maersk-Alabama cargo ship on the waters off the coast of Somalia today.
Capt. Richard Phillips, right, master of the cargo ship Maersk-Alabama, who had been captured by pirates, stands alongside U.S. Navy Cmdr. Frank Castellano, commanding officer of USS Bainbridge after being rescued by U.S Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia. Philips was held hostage for four days by the pirates. U.S. Navy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
U.S. naval forces freed Capt. Richard Phillips five days after Somali pirates took him hostage.
“I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is safely on board the USS Boxer,” Obama said in a White House statement. “His safety has been our principal concern, and I know this is a welcome relief to his family and his crew.
“I am also very proud of the efforts of the US military and many other departments and agencies who worked tirelessly to secure Captain Phillips’ safe recovery,” he said. “I share the country’s admiration for the bravery of captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans.”
Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, comended those involved in the rescue.
“This was an incredible team effort, and I am extremely proud of the tireless efforts of all the men and women who made this rescue possible,” Gortney said in a U.S. Navy release. Gortney said Phillips’ actions, and those of the Maersk-Alabama crew, were heroic.
“They fought back to regain control of their ship, and Captain Phillips selflessly put his life in the hands of these armed criminals in order to protect his crew,” he said.
Following the rescue, Phillips was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge before being flown to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, where he contacted his family, received a routine medical evaluation, and is resting comfortably, according to a U.S. Navy statement.
Three pirates were killed during the rescue operation, and U.S. military forces have one pirate in custody, the statement said.