Captain Heads Home After 'Miracle' Rescue

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Some are calling the rescue of American Captain Richard Phillips nothing short of a miracle and one that appropriately took place on Easter Sunday.

While family and friends celebrate the safe return of Phillips and his crew, pirates in Somalia are vowing revenge.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Washington Correspondent John Jessup.

The first video of freed Captain Richard Phillips showed him being escorted aboard the U.S.S. Boxer.

"Thanks guys," Phillips told the crew. "Thank you very much. Keep it real."

After a hot shower, a quick medical check, and debriefings on his five-day ordeal as a hostage on the high seas, Phillips is on his way back home to be reunited with his family in Underhill, Vermont.

"I think you can all imagine their joy, and what a happy moment that was for them," said Alison McColl, the Phillips family spokesperson. "Andrea wanted me to tell the nation that all of your prayers and good wishes have paid off, because Captain Phillips is safe."

Seals Take Action

However on Sunday, Phillips' life appeared to be in grave danger. Negotiations started to break down.  And on board the U.S.S. Bainbridge, U.S Navy seals had a clear view of the lifeboat where the pirates held phillips hostage.

At one point, snipers could see an AK-47 pointed at the American captain, who was tied up.  When the pirates came into full view, Navy snipers had seconds to act.

"The on-scene commander thought that interpreted hostile intent by the pirates and took the appropriate action," Vice Admiral William Gortney of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command told a newsconference.

In the U.S and in the port town of Mombasa, Kenya, news of Phillips' dramatic rescue was met with relief and joy.

"He was the good shepherd," said Rear Admiral Richard Gurnon of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. "He willingly exchanged his life for the lives of his flock, his crew."

For Phillips' crew aboard the Maersk Alabama, there was a sense pride.

"They had Captain Phillips but they didn't have this ship," said one crew member. "They never had this ship. This is our ship."

Piracy Still A World Problem

President Obama authorized the successful operation, but experts warn that it won't put the Somali pirates out of business.

The expanse of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden has made it easy for them to target dozens of cargo ships from around the world for million dollar ransoms.

"We still have more than 200 men and women held hostage in Somalia," Gurnon said. "We should not let the spotlights, the TV cameras, the focus of the world be removed from that problem."

A fourth pirate aboard the U.S.S. Bainbridge during the negotiations is now in custody. The Justice Department is now trying to figure out whether to charge him in Washington, D.C. or New York. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Conviction for piracy and hostage-taking carry life sentences.

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John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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