Capt. Murphy, with a specialty in unexpected situations, brings to mind Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, hero of flight 1549, who is an airline safety expert. This incident also echoes another flight -- United Airlines flight 93 on 9/11, when the passengers apparently thwarted the hijackers' aims.
In this case, however, the crew of the Alabama managed to disable the ship at about the time the pirates came on board, according to a senior American military official. The four hijackers, apparently overrun by the ship's crew, then loaded the captain into a lifeboat, shoved off from the Alabama and began negotiating for his release.
American officials praised the crew's decision to disable the ship. The Alabama's second in command, Capt. Shane Murphy, is the son of an instructor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy who teaches a course on how to repel pirate attacks.
Meanwhile, the Alabama hijackers, in a lifeboat with the hostage captain and with a U.S. destroyer tracking them, are not exactly dealing from a position of power. Still, they'll no doubt get something out of it, just a smaller ransom than these pirates have been accustomed to.
For a comprehensive survey of Somalian piracy, the New Atlanticist has compiled all its articles on the subject in this post: Somali Pirates Capture U.S. Vessel, World Attention.
More at Memeorandum, too.
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