Skipper appears unharmed after escape try

April 10, 2009 at 5:05 PM
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MOGADISHU, Somalia, April 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. captain being held by pirates off Somalia appeared to be unharmed Friday after his unsuccessful attempt to escape, U.S. officials said.

The standoff between the pirates, in a lifeboat with Capt. Richard Phillips, and naval vessels was ongoing, the Los Angeles Times said. The Defense Department said that two vessels, the destroyer USS Bainbridge and frigate USS Halliburton, were in the vicinity of the lifeboat.

Phillips jumped overboard Friday but was recaptured and pulled back on board the lifeboat, officials said. He apparently planned to swim to the Bainbridge, CNN reported.

Pirates seized the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday, but the crew retook the vessel hours later. The vessel was carrying U.S. aid supplies to Mombasa, Kenya.

FBI negotiators were trying to talk to the kidnappers.

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, U.S. Central Command commander, said two more ships would be sent to the region, the BBC reported. Petraeus said the added presence would "ensure that we have all the capability that might be needed over the course of the coming days."

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