WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama praised the U.S. military’s rescue of the kidnapped captain of the Maersk-Alabama cargo ship on the waters off the coast of Somalia April 12.
U.S. naval forces freed Capt. Richard Phillips five days after Somali pirates took him hostage.
“I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is safely on board the USS Boxer,” Obama said in a White House statement. “His safety has been our principal concern, and I know this is a welcome relief to his family and his crew.
“I am also very proud of the efforts of the U.S. military and many other departments and agencies who worked tirelessly to secure Captain Phillips’ safe recovery,” he said. “I share the country’s admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans.”
Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, comended those involved in the rescue.
“This was an incredible team effort, and I am extremely proud of the tireless efforts of all the men and women who made this rescue possible,” Gortney said in a U.S. Navy release. Gortney said Phillips’ actions, and those of the Maersk-Alabama crew, were heroic.
“They fought back to regain control of their ship, and Captain Phillips selflessly put his life in the hands of these armed criminals in order to protect his crew,” he said.
Following the rescue, Phillips was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) before being flown to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), where he contacted his family, received a routine medical evaluation and is resting comfortably, according to a U.S. Navy statement.
Three pirates were killed during the rescue operation, and U.S. military forces have one pirate in custody, the statement said.