San Diego Military Involved In Pirate Standoff In Somalia - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Military Involved In Pirate Standoff In Somalia

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Some Sailors and Marines from San Diego are in a tense standoff with Somali pirates who are holding an American ship captain hostage.

The US military, working with the FBI, is trying to negotiate the safe return of Capt. Richard Phillips, held captive since Wednesday. Phillips was aboard the US ship Maersk Alabama. It was loaded with food and relief supplies bound for Kenya when it was attacked 300 miles off the coast of Somalia.

"The captain of the vessel is still being held hostage by the pirates in a lifeboat and we're hoping for his safe return," Maersk Alabama spokesman Kevin Speers said.

The pirates used grappling hooks to force their way on board. Unarmed, The Maersk Alabama's 20 crew members - who were unarmed - used fire hoses to try to fight them off.

"There were four Somali pirates with AK-47's. We took one of them hostage and the other 3, the captain talked them into getting into the lifeboat, but now they got our captain in a life boat. They got him hostage. They wanted an American," Mersk Alabama 2nd Mate Ken Quinn said.

The US Navy destroyer Bainbridge is near the life boat monitoring its progress and to confront new pirates, already rumored to be en route.

"Our most recent contact with the Alabama indicated that the captain remains hostage but is unharmed at this time," a spokesman said.

US military members have already assisted in the safe return of the massive cargo ship a day after its attack.

Hijacking proves to be big business for Somalis, who have very few sources for income.

At times ship owners are forced to pay. A recent payoff involving a ship was delivered by parachute. This is the first pirate hijacking involving an American ship.

We're told the drifting lifeboat carrying Capt. Phillips is out of gas, has enough food for 10 days and is not equipped with a bathroom.

We have also learned another US ship - the Haliburton - is en route.

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