Captain 'Offered Himself as the Hostage'

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2009 9:01 PM CDT
Neighbors of Capt. Richard Phillips talk after hanging a bouquet of yellow flowers on a tree in his front yard in Underhill, Vt.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
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(Newser) – The high-seas hostage situation rolls on, with a growing armada of US vessels on site or en route and negotiations continuing between the pirates and the Navy, assisted by the FBI. The four bandits, adrift in a 24-foot lifeboat with the American captain, sound desperate: "We are surrounded by warships and don't have time to talk," one told Reuters via satellite phone. "Please pray for us."

Capt. Richard Phillips contacted the Navy by radio to say he's unharmed. Details of the hijacking remain murky, but a general outline is emerging: When it began, Phillips reportedly told his crew of about 20 to lock themselves in a room. He persuaded three of the four hijackers to go with him into the lifeboat. "What I understand is that he offered himself as the hostage," a relative told AP. The crew overpowered the remaining pirate on the ship, but a deal to swap him for the captain went awry.