Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Pirates: The Maersk Alabama

Taken Hostage

Captain Richard 'Richie' Phillips
Captain Richard "Richie" Phillips
Phillips convinced the pirates that they could escape in the ship's small rescue dinghy. And he volunteered to be their insurance: He'd stay with the pirates until they were safely on their way and had their missing man. The captain would help the pirates start the dinghy's engine. Once the pirates were on their way, the pirates and the crew would exchange prisoners. Phillips would swim back toward the Maersk Alabama as pirate Muse took off for the smaller boat.

But sailors and pirates soon realized that the tiny, open-air rescue boat the pirates were starting out in wasn't going to hold up to the increasingly rough seas. Able-Bodied Seaman William Rios, 41, of New York, and another sailor set out in a sturdier, enclosed and motorized lifeboat. They traded this for the rescue dinghy, leaving food, water, fuel and other supplies for the pirates.

But Muse escaped and boarded the lifeboat with his fellow pirates before the agreed-upon time. The pirates would not now give up the captain.

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