The U.S. Navy was able to rescue the crew of the Maersk Alabama after a real-life 2009 pirate attack—an event that became the basis for the newly released film “Captain Phillips”—but not every vessel and its crew are so lucky. It was recently reported that two sailors from the U.S. ship C-Retriever were kidnapped after a possible pirate incident on Wednesday, October 23 in the Gulf of Guinea—and, according to the most recent reports, their fate is still uncertain.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department has now stated that terrorism has been ruled out in the attack, and government officials do believe that the attack on the C-Retriever was an act of piracy. While there are reports of a small U.S. Marine Corp training unit in the area, there has not yet been a decision by the U.S. to get involved in the rescue of the captain and the chief engineer of the C-Retriever, who have been held hostage since Wednesday.
Although the U.S. Navy has not yet responded, the Nigerian Navy has stated it will take action to rescue the two U.S. sailors. Spokesperson Kabiru Aliyu stated, “We have directed the central Naval Command to see to their rescue. So our men are on top of the situation.”
While incidents of piracy have seen a decrease in the high-risk waters near Somalia, piracy off the coast of Nigeria has increased by a third in 2013, and many areas remain dangerous. Crews are often captured and held for ransom, and it can be a terrifying and uncertain ordeal when they are unable to get a quick response from the military to ensure their safety and release. As an offshore attorney working with some of the crewmembers from the real-life Maersk Alabama, I have seen how these traumatic attacks affect the hard-working men and women who travel through these high-risk areas, and I hope the captain and chief engineer are soon returned safely home to their families and friends.
To learn more about the modern-day pirate attack on the Maersk Alabama in the Gulf of Aden and the highly fictionalized film based on those events, visit The Truth About Captain Phillips.