There was an astonishing twist in the latest piracy attack off the coast of Somalia as the American captain of the Maersk Alabama was taken hostage by the pirates in one of the vessel’s lifeboats after the crew thwarted the attack and retook command of the vessel.
According to reports from the BBC, the Captain was seized by armed pirates who had stormed the 1,100teu Maersk Alabama after a five-hour chase 400 miles north-east of the Somali capital Mogadishu. The ship attempted to outmanoeuvre the pirates but failed.
When the pirates boarded the vessel, the 21 American crew members fought back, capturing one of the raiders and retaking their ship, which was carrying thousands of tons of food aid.
Latest reports suggested the master was still adrift on a lifeboat with the pirates.
The captain was apparently taken by four armed pirates in a prisoner exchange that went wrong. Ken Quinn, a second mate on the Maersk Alabama, told CNN that they tied up the pirate and kept him for 12 hours.
It was agreed that the captain, who had apparently offered himself as a prisoner, would be exchanged for the seized pirate. “We returned him but they didn’t return the captain,” said Mr Quinn.
Maersk Line said in a statement: “We are able to confirm that the crew of the Maersk Alabama is now in control of the ship. The armed hijackers who boarded this ship earlier today have departed, however, they are currently holding one member of the ship’s crew as a hostage. The other members of the crew are safe and no injuries have been reported. We are working closely with the US military and other government agencies to continue to respond to this situation as it develops further and will provide additional information as we are able.”