U.S. warships tracked a boatload of gunmen holding a U.S. ship’s captain hostage off the Somali coast on Sunday and unidentified military helicopters flew over the pirate lair of Haradheere.
The gunmen were in a lifeboat out of fuel and drifting toward land, U.S. military officials said. If it reached shore, they might try to escape with their hostage, the officials said.
The U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama container ship was attacked far out in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday but its 20 American crew apparently fought off the pirates and regained control.
(Article continues below)
Relatives said merchant marine Captain Richard Phillips, 53, volunteered to go with the pirates in a Maersk Alabama lifeboat in exchange for the safety of his ship and its crew.
The four Somali pirates holding him want $2 million ransom and a guarantee of safe passage.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The incident has sharpened international attention on the growing problem of piracy in the busy sea lanes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.