One Somali pirate is reportedly in custody and the 1,100-TEU Maersk Alabama has been retaken by its American crew, but its captain, Shane Murphy, was still said to be held hostage.
One Somali pirate is reportedly in custody and the 1,100-TEU Maersk Alabama has been retaken by its American crew, but its captain, Shane Murphy, was still said to be held hostage yesterday, said US Defence Department sources.
The ship was deployed in Maersk Line's EAF4 (East Africa 4) service with a short regional rotation: Salalah, Djibouti, Mombasa and back to Salalah. It was carrying 400 TEU of food aid for World Food Programme.
The ship, once named the Alva Maersk is now a US-flagged vessel owned and operated by Maersk Line Limited, of Norfolk, Virginia, a unit of Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, which runs ships under the US Department of Defence Maritime Security Programme. The ship, bound for Mombasa, was not on US military service at the time of the attack.
"The crew is back in control of the ship," a US official said. "It's reported that one pirate is on board under crew control - the other three were trying to flee," the official said. The status of the other pirates was unknown.
"The area the ship was taken in is not where the focus of our ships have been," a US navy official said. "Our ships cannot be everywhere," he said.
Usually, containerships move too fast for pirate skiffs. They prefer to prey on bulkers and tankers, which are not only slower but have less freeboard and are easier to attack. The Maersk Alabama is smaller - 17,500 tons - and slower - 18 knots - than most containerships today.