After a grueling 5-day hostage situation in Nairobi, the US Navy was finally able to free Capt. Richard Philips who had been held captive by pirates since Wednesday. Pirates tried to hijack the US-flagged Maersk Alabama on Wednesday which was on its way to Rwanda, Somalia to deliver food aid. However, before the pirates boarded, Capt. Philips told his crew of 19 to lock themselves in the cabin and surrendered himself to the pirates to safeguard his men.
Phillips was then taken hostage in an enclosed lifeboat by the pirates. The lifeboat was soon shadowed by three U.S. warships and a helicopter in a standoff. Negotiations to free Philips started Thursday but no accord was reached. The pirates tried to get assistance from other pirate-controlled ships the following days; however, the US Navy was able to block any attempts by other pirates to save their comrades.
On Easter Sunday, the US navy were able to rescue the 53-yearold captain during a surprise nighttime assault, killing 3 of the pirates. Negotiations were becoming heated when one of them pointed an AK-47 at the back of Philips. With the captain in imminent danger, the commander of the USS Bainbridge ordered his men to shoot.
Following the death of the 3 pirates and the surrender of another who would likely face life imprisonment in the US, other pirates in the area issued threats that they would no longer hesitate to take lives of hostages in future hijacking. Piracy in the area has been growing since the previous year.