U.S. military urged to protect ships

May 1, 2009 at 12:34 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- The merchant ship captain who was held hostage by Somali pirates says it is time for the U.S. military to protect ships in the Indian Ocean.

Richard Phillips, who spent five days in captivity, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his ordeal, The Hill reported Friday.

"The most desirable and appropriate solution to piracy is for the United States government to provide protection, through military escorts and/or military detachments aboard U.S. vessels," Phillips said.

He also suggested using methods to make ships more difficult to board as part of a comprehensive plan to combat an increasing number of pirate attacks.

Phillips said he thought the attack on his ship, the Maersk Alabama, could have been deterred if at least two highly trained Special Forces soldiers had been on board to defend it.

Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., suggested international convention could be amended to allow crew members to carry weapons.

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