Maersk Captain Attempts Escape, Is Recaptured

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Photo: Getty Images

After two long, full days on a gasless lifeboat with his four pirate captors, Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips apparently had enough. Early this morning he made an escape attempt by diving into the ocean, but was quickly recaptured by the Somalis. Which, we imagine, makes it all the more awkward now as they remain sitting in the lifeboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, accompanied by a giant naval warship with the authority to "terminate the act of piracy and any included hostage situation."

Yesterday, a man who identified himself as a "colleague" of the pirates called Bloomberg News and said pirates had sent out reinforcements, and more pirate ships would be arriving on the scene soon. General Petraeus shortly later told an audience in Florida that the Navy was also sending more ships out, and now the pirates' rescue ships are reportedly surrounded by American ones.

"I actually think this naval response is not the right thing to be doing at all," one piracy expert told The Wall Street Journal. "We have ratcheted up the situation."

This pirate liaison, talking to Bloomberg, predicted one of two outcomes: “Either the Americans take their man and sink the boat with my colleagues, or we will soon recover the captain and my colleagues in the coming hours,” he said.

Richard Gurnon, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, presented alternate scenarios. “The pirates have two options,” he said. “Surrender Phillips, maybe you get in jail for two years, or harm Phillips and face instant death.”

Apparently, none of these situations is particularly appealing to the relevant parties, so right now everyone's just waiting around. Reuters was even able to get the pirates on the phone! "We are surrounded by warships and don't have time to talk," one said. "Please pray for us." Don't have time to talk? What else is there to do when you're on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean surrounded by warships??

Well, drink, we guess. There's always that.

Bush Administration Had Issued Plan for Pirates in December [WSJ]
Somali Pirates Sending Reinforcements to Kidnappers [Bloomberg]
Pirates said to recapture U.S. captain after escape bid [Reuters]