Negotiations with a group of African elders (!) representing the Somali pirates over the fate of Capt. Richard Phillips broke down yesterday, as Americans demanded that the pirates be arrested and face justice.
The elders, speaking to American negotiators via satellite phone, offered a straight trade, with no ransom—they'll let Phillips go if the four pirates currently holding him can go free. But Americans refused, insisting that the pirates be arrested and taken to Puntland, which is apparently a country? Negotiations were further complicated when the pirates fired on a Navy vessel that had approached their lifeboat yesterday. The Navy didn't return fire.
In other pirate news, the Somalis seized another U.S.-owned boat yesterday, a tugboat manned primarily by Italians. And they attempted to board a Portugese freighter at dawn yesterday, shooting an RPG into the captain's chambers, but were repelled by water cannons. Good idea!
Phillips' ship, the Maersk Alabama, pulled into port in Mombasa, Kenya, yesterday, with 19 crew members aboard. FBI officials wouldn't let them leave the ship immediately, saying it was a crime scene; the crew engaged in shouted interviews with reporters on the dock, telling them that Phillips was a hero who volunteered himself as a hostage in order to free his crew.
"He saved our lives!" said Second Mate Ken Quinn, of Bradenton, Fla., as the ship was docking, according to The Associated Press. "He's a hero."
When this guy gets released he has to meet Sully.