Fate of Hijacked U.S. Ship Still Unknown

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The destroyer USS Bainbridge arrived at the Somalia coast just before dawn, Thursday, hoping to aid in the release of a U.S. ship hijacked by Somali pirates Wednesday.

Attempts to negotiate with the pirates took place most of the day, but by nightfall the fate of the 20 Americans aboard the U.S.-flagged cargo ship was still unknown.

Officials said they would wait until sunrise before making any further decisions.

By midday, the Pentagon said the Americans had retaken control of the vessel, but a crew member later told the press that the ship's captain was still being held by the pirates.

A family member said Capt. Richard Phillips surrendered himself to keep his crew safe.

"What I understand is that he offered himself as the hostage," said Gina Coggio, a relative of Phillips' wife. "That is what he would do. It's just who he is and his responsibility as a captain."

Click play to watch CBN News coverage of the hijacking.  Also, click here for more insight on Somali piracy with CBN News Terror Analyst Erick Stakelbeck.

The U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency relief to Mombasa, Kenya, from Djibouti when it was hijacked about 300 miles off Somalia.

It first time an American crew has been attacked, and the latest of a rise in pirate attacks in the region, a Kenya-based diplomat said.

U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen said the closest U.S. ship at the time of the hijacking was 345 miles away.

"Our ships cannot be everywhere at every time," he said.

The Maersk Alabama is owned and operated by Maersk Line Ltd, a Norfolk, Virginia-based subsidiary of A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world's largest container shipper.

This is the second time that Somali pirates have seized a ship belonging to the group. In February 2008, pirates seized the towing vessel Svitzer Korsakov.

The ship is the sixth to be seized within a week.

Sources: The Associated Press, Reuters

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