U.S. Cargo Ship Docks In Kenya

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A U.S.-flagged container ship, the Maersk Alabama, glided into port Saturday, four days after fending off a pirate attack. Those pirates still hold hostage the ship's captain, Richard Phillips.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Rebecca Roberts.

The standoff at sea is in its fourth day off the Horn of Africa. American warships are patrolling the area, yet Somali pirates hijacked another ship today, an Italian tugboat with a crew of 16. All that while a small band of pirates is still holding Captain Richard Phillips on a dank lifeboat.

Some good news: The cargo ship Captain Phillips commands, the Maersk Alabama, docked in Kenya with the crew safe and sound.

John Reinhart, president of the Maersk Shipping Line, said at a news conference that the shipmates won't get to dry land just yet. They have to talk to the FBI first.

Mr. JOHN REINHART (President, Maersk Shipping Line): The crew's relieved, obviously. It's been harrowing for them. When I spoke to the crew, they won't consider it done when they board a plane and come home. They won't consider it done until the captain's back.

ROBERTS: NPR's Gwen Thompkins watched with a group of reporters earlier as the Maersk Alabama pulled into port in Mombasa, Kenya.

GWEN THOMPKINS: I'm standing about 30 feet away from the Maersk Alabama. Container ship is a 17,000-ton cargo ship. They're about five or six crewmembers who are in front of me at this very moment, actually. They appeared to be in a very good mood. One crewmember said, woohoo, and he smiled and waved at the reporters. And there's a throng of reporters here, actually. When asked about Captain Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama who (unintelligible) hostage on Wednesday to save his crew, one crewmember yelled back at the crowd, that man saved our lives.

ROBERTS: So the Maersk Alabama is now docking in Mombasa. What happens with this ship now?

THOMPKINS: Well, as you know, the ship is carrying containers, carrying food and other relief items destined for Uganda and, ironically, for Somalia. Some of this food is from the World Food Program. And the World Food Program wants to see its cargo get to its final destination.

ROBERTS: And, Gwen, do you have any update on the operation to save Captain Phillips?

THOMPKINS: The crewmembers aboard the Maersk Alabama are accompanied by U.S. Navy personnel who boarded the ship shortly after it was retaken by the crew on Wednesday and have been with the crew ever since.

Now that the ship has reached its berth, then FBI officials boarded the ship and debriefed the crew. The FBI and the U.S. Navy are working together to investigate what happened on Wednesday and to hopefully find some type of peaceful resolution to the hostage situation that is ongoing at this time.

ROBERTS: NPR's Gwen Thompkins on the dock at the port of Mombasa, Kenya.

Thank you so much, Gwen.

THOMPKINS: Thank you.

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