Pirates commandeered a United States-flagged container ship with 20 American crew members off the coast of Somalia on Wednesday, in what appeared to be the first time an American-crewed ship was seized by pirates in the area.
The Pentagon said the crew of the ship was believed to have retaken the vessel, The Associated Press reported, though the owner of the ship said it could not confirm that the crew was back in control.
The container ship, the Maersk Alabama, was carrying thousands of tons of relief aid to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, the company that owns the ship said.
The ship was taken by pirates at about 7:30 a.m. local time, 280 miles southeast of the Somali city of Eyl, a known haven for pirates, a spokesman for the United States Navy said. The ship is owned and operated by Maersk Line Limited, a United States subsidiary of A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, the Danish shipping giant.
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The Maersk Alabama was at least the sixth commercial ship commandeered by pirates in the last week off the Horn of Africa, one of the most notoriously lawless zones on the high seas, where pirates have been operating with near impunity despite efforts by many nations, including the United States, to intimidate them with naval warship patrols.