Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pirates Seize Ship With American Crew

Update III: Four pirates continue to hold Capt. Richard Phillips (above) hostage in a lifeboat.
Update II: Captain of Hijacked Cargo Ship Reportedly Being Held Hostage by Somali Pirates
Update I: Crew Regains Control of Hijacked Ship

After hijacking five ships over the weekend, Somali pirates today seized an American cargo ship with 20 crewmembers aboard. Via CNN:
It is believed that the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama then was hijacked, according to a statement from Maersk Line Ltd. If so, it would be the sixth hijacking over the past week.

The vessel was en route to Mombasa, Kenya, when it was attacked about 310 miles (500 kilometers) off Somalia's coast, the statement said.

U.S. government sources said the attack happened at about 7:30 a.m. local time. The nearest U.S. Navy warship was about 300 nautical miles, or 345 miles, away at the time, they said. The U.S. Navy issued another notice Tuesday warning mariners that the Somali piracy activity was extending hundreds of miles offshore.

A Maersk subsidiary in Norfolk, Virginia, owns and operates the cargo ship, Maersk spokesman Michael Storgaard said. He would not provide any details about the security arrangements on board the Maersk Alabama.

"We have very strict policies on the vessel. ... Crews are trained to handle these types of situations," Storgaard said from Maersk's headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He said the company is in the process of contacting the crew members' relatives and setting up assistance for them.

"That is at this moment our primary concern," Storgaard said.

The Maersk Line is one of the U.S. Department of Defense's primary shipping contractors. But Storgaard said the Maersk Alabama was carrying "general cargo," most likely including aid supplies to East Africa.

Prayers for the protection and rescue of the crew. Please continue praying for the other captured ships and their crewmembers as well.

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