Return to Transcripts main page
CNN BREAKING NEWS
Navy Rescues Captain From Pirates; Hometown Jubilation
Aired April 12, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening everyone. I'm Don Lemon.
Breaking news here on CNN: by most if not all accounts, Easter Sunday took a huge turn for the better around 12:20 Eastern Time this afternoon. That's when U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed a trio of well-armed Somali pirates and rescued American cargo ship Captain Richard Phillips who was held hostage by the pirates in a lifeboat for five grueling days at sea.
Here's what we know right now about the successful military operation that unfolded off the coast of Somalia. Captain Richard Phillips is safe aboard the USS Boxer where he's been given a medical check-up and declared to be in good shape and resting comfortably.
Navy officials say they considered Philips in imminent danger and took advantage of a tactical mistake by the pirates who apparently left themselves prone to naval sharp shooters. Three pirates were killed, another pirate, a supposed negotiator, taken into custody.
We're all over this breaking news story for you with crews deployed from the Coast of Africa to right here on the home front.
Our Stephanie Elam is live in Underhill, Vermont, his hometown. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr live in Bahrain headquarters for the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
The U.S. Navy says Captain Richard Phillips has been medically checked out and is in reasonably good shape for someone held hostage for five days at sea.
But all you have to do is look at this picture taken shortly after Captain Richard Phillips was rescued from the grasp of the pirates and is reunited with friends to see his physical and emotional well-being. This photo provided to us by the Department of Defense.
Now, we don't know if it was snapped while Captain Phillips was aboard the USS Bainbridge, the first U.S. warship he was taken aboard from the pirate's lifeboat, or aboard the USS Boxer where he is right now.
Additionally, we've come to find out that President Barack Obama has spoken to Captain Phillips as well as his family. Let's get straight to Manama, Bahrain, home of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. And that's where we find our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She has been doing a yeoman's job there reporting on the developments of this story.
The best possible ending imaginable on this story, Barbara, and also I found it very interesting that information you gave to us just last hour about these guys being parachuted covertly into the water and then making their way onto the back of that ship and watching these pirates go about their business of holding this man captive.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A truly amazing story, Don. It sounds like a Hollywood movie. It probably is likely to be made into one someday.
A very happy ending, of course, for the Phillips family and here in Bahrain, the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet letting out a huge sigh of relief tonight that this is over.
The piracy crisis in these waters goes on but at least right now tonight, there is good news. This was the rescue of Captain Phillips that was carried out by the letter for U.S. Navy teams of snipers, U.S. Military Special Operations.
Apparently, some hours, days, we don't know, a couple of days ago, maybe, a team of Navy SEALs parachuted from an aircraft overhead into the sea off the Coast of Somalia, out of sight of the pirates, made their way to the USS Bainbridge, and there really laid in wait to take their chance.
A sniper team on the fan tail of the Bainbridge on the back was deployed. These Navy SEALs keeping a covert watch on the boat where Captain Phillips was being held, watching, waiting to take their chance.
When the pirates made the tactical mistake, two of them showing themselves, the commander-on-scene made the call that Captain Phillips was in imminent danger. An AK-47 was being held to his back. And they took the shots, three shots by three snipers against three pirates. And it was all over very quickly.
The Navy team, the military, had that standing approval from President Obama, if they deemed Captain Phillips' life in imminent danger they had the authority to move very quickly. They did within seconds.
And now Captain Phillips will be reunited with his family -- Don.
LEMON: All right, CNN's Barbara Starr. Barbara, good news here. We can smile. We've been serious for a long time. But we're glad that he is going to be home with his family and that he is ok. Barbara Starr reporting to us from Bahrain.
Now, Maersk Shipping CEO John Reinhart couldn't say enough good things about his ship's captain, who is being hailed as a hero by so many people tonight. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN REINHART, PRESIDENT & CEO MAERSK LINE LTD.: Richard exemplifies some of the best traditions and behaviors and skills of an American merchant mariner. He's a leader of men. He's a brave and courageous man. He persevered through difficult times. And he's shown real heroism. When I look at it, I think Richard has exhibited the true spirit of an American. And I'm proud today to be an American, as every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, maybe the only place Captain Phillips is more loved is Underhill, Vermont. That's his hometown. And that's where we find CNN's Stephanie Elam standing by.
Stephanie, you heard that press conference, you've been there in the neighborhood reporting on this story. It was interesting to hear about the conversation he had with his wife, and she said she just lit up and then she said, you know what, "Please wrap up your business here and go home."
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and along that same path of conversation the entire time, Don, that they're just going to wait until they're really ready to come out and speak before cameras.
It was interesting to note, after this last press briefing here, as soon as it was over, the extended family from the Phillips home came out. And while they weren't ready to go before the cameras they did want to let their elation be felt. They all honked their horns as they [AUDIO GAP] down the street leaving here the house of Captain Phillips.
But overall, the mood here has been good. You can feel that in the town. But I want you to hear a little bit of what was just said at this press briefing. A spokeswoman for the Phillips family giving us an [AUDIO GAP] idea of how they're feeling right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON MCCOLL, PHILLIP'S FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: Andrea asked me to come out and talk to all. She's not personally ready to be talking to you all but she wanted me to come out and just let you know that she and her family have felt a tremendous amount of support from the entire nation.
The thoughts, the prayers, the sentiments, the support you've shown has really helped them endure this very difficult situation. And she believes she can feel it and she believes that her husband felt it out there in the middle of the ocean.
So thanks to the entire nation, the local community, the state of Vermont for all your help there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: Now, I did see Mrs. Phillips come outside a few days ago now. She was completely gracious. And continuing that [AUDIO GAP] as well, and part of this briefing that we did here today, she said that she thanked not just the people who helped save her husband out there but also their families. Because she was sure they were probably nervous about their loved ones too while they were out there in this rescue effort -- Don.
LEMON: And Stephanie, I want you to take a listen to this moment as well and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF VICE ADMIRAL WILLIAM E. GORTNEY, U.S. NAVY: I hope Captain Phillips won't mind if I share a note from his wife that was delivered to him this morning by the sailors from the USS Bainbridge while he was still being held captive.
The note said, "Richard, your family loves you, your family is praying for you, your family is saving a chocolate Easter egg for you, unless your son eats it first." Well, Mrs. Phillips, keep your son away from those Easter eggs, his dad's headed home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Stephanie Elam, a very happy Easter for this family.
ELAM: No doubt about it.
And you know what I've been told too is that Captain Phillips has a great sense of humor, that he always manages to maintain his sense of humor. That's something I've heard from people who live here in the town.
So that sounds right in line with his response and maybe the way they deal with each other. The spokeswoman who came out here saying that they have a very tight bond as a family and also as husband and wife. And so that little joke there, I'm sure when it comes down to it, he can have just about as many Easter eggs as he wants. It'll be fine with everybody here.
LEMON: Absolutely, absolutely.
Stephanie Elam, we certainly appreciate it.
LEMON: We want our viewers to stick with us because we're going to talk about the White House reaction in just a moment. We'll hear from the President, what the President had to say.
Also, do you know you can be on the show as well? All you have to do is logon to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or iReport.com. We get our viewer response on the air all the time. We would like yours as well.
Breaking news we're covering here today on CNN, stay tuned. New details about the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips.
LEMON: The president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy sums up what many people are feeling this Easter Sunday after the U.S. Navy brought the Somali pirates standoff to a quick and decisive end. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. RICK GURNON, MASSACHUSETTS MARITIME ACADEMY: It doesn't get better than this. It doesn't get better than this.
This is exactly the way we wanted it to end, with the crew safe, with the cargo safe and with the ship safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Two people who know the sentiments of that man, Chris Voss is a former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator and Harry Humphries, a former navy SEAL; the SEALs, of course, offering a swift Plan B when talks go nowhere.
I want to start with you, Chris. I want to talk about the policy on first negotiating with pirates. We don't really negotiate with pirates. We don't really -- we're not supposed to, at least, the government, pay ransom.
CHRIS VOSS, FORMER LEAD INTERNATIONAL FBI NEGOTIATOR: Well, the U.S. government did not pay ransom. And as far as the policy goes, as a negotiator, I say we don't negotiate with them, we negotiate against them.
We look at negotiation as a tool that complements what our SEALs do, what our tactical forces do. It's a means to accomplish objectives. And we don't look at it as a Plan B with the tactical people; we look at it as a combined operation. We work in parallel with them.
LEMON: Ok, listen, I want to read earlier, we were talking about the U.S. policy at least on negotiating.
Let's talk about prosecuting these guys. This is according to attorney general Eric Holder. He said earlier in the week, the U.S. hasn't seen a case of piracy against an American ship in hundreds of years. U.S. prosecutors do have jurisdiction to bring charges when a crime is committed against a U.S. citizen or on a U.S. ship.
Officials said the pirates surrendered to U.S. forces -- the details of the surrender were not immediate. I want to get to this one thing because I think it's very important. It says that the navy has the right to hold pirates captured at sea and does not need to negotiate extradition with another country. The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Somalia.
All very interesting information as it comes -- as we're trying to figure out exactly what's going to happen with this pirate, where he's going to be prosecuted, where he's going to be held.
In your time negotiating, Chris, with pirates, what has been -- I'm sure in your negotiations, we have held some pirates. What has been the procedure here in the past?
VOSS: Well, most commonly with kidnappings around the world, the Department of Justice and the FBI work out with whatever country might have jurisdiction. And they -- DOJ usually defers to that country first. Now, if there are international agreements in place, DOJ will look to respect -- Department of Justice will look to respect those agreements and then ultimately make the decision.
We've always had the option to bring them here and prosecute them. And Department of Justice -- and with -- along with Department of State, usually consult with concerned countries if they believe that they're also stakeholders and work out the best place for that prosecution.
LEMON: Harry Humphries is a former navy SEAL. When you heard about what happened today about the rescue of Captain Phillips, in your mind, did you know somehow that it might or would result in this the longer it went on that Captain Phillips was held hostage?
HARRY HUMPHRIES, FORMER NAVY SEAL: There's no question that I knew that we would have eyes on the target. Whether or not we exercised our presence or not was an issue to be dealt with and only the future could have told that.
Unfortunately, it resulted in the death of a few guys that really didn't have to be killed if we were able to negotiate and wait. But they themselves brought this incident upon themselves. In a threatening manner, they demonstrated an intent, perhaps, to kill our hero.
And it is my belief that it was a command initiated shot where all three shooters on the fan tail of the vessel were given directive probably from the bridge of the vessel. And either the captain or the senior SEAL aboard exercised the commander in chief's order to shoot when necessary, and that's what we did.
LEMON: And that's what happened. Captain Phillips will be home safe soon.
Harry Humphries, Chris Voss, thank you both very much. Thank you for your continuing input on our network here about this rescue attempt, successful I should say, successful rescue. Thank you so much.
VOSS: My pleasure.
LEMON: Make sure you stay with us.
We have continuing coverage of the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips.
And we want to hear from you as well. We've been hearing from experts. We've been hearing from the government. We've been hearing from our reporters out in the field.
We want to hear from you, the viewer, as well, your thoughts on this. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or iReport.com; we get your responses on, we promise you.
New information coming to you just seconds away. On the other side of this break, our correspondents are standing by and they're getting new information at every moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Let's go to the White House because we want to talk about who exactly was in charge of this operation, or I should say, who had the final say-so, who gave the final order.
We have been hearing from Kate Bolduan it was the commander-in-chief who told them to go in and use military force -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Don.
Yes, we now learn that the president, we learned from administration officials as well as from a time line, that the president twice granted the authority to the Department of Defense to move ahead with force to rescue Captain Phillips.
Here's a little bit of the time line that was provided by the White House.
Friday, 8:00 p.m., the president granted the first request for the Department of Defense to move ahead with a military operation. Then Saturday, 9:20 a.m., yesterday morning, the president granted a second request for this military operation to move ahead. I'm told that was for technical reasons as more forces, resources, moved into the region.
Then 4:00, just a short time ago today, the president made the call to the USS Boxer to speak with Captain Phillips himself, and we're also told he spoke to the captain's family and wife.
Now, this order, this granting this authority, Don, we're told was a standing order, we learned this from the vice admiral during the Pentagon briefing, a standing order from the president. If the on- scene commander saw that the captain was in imminent danger, they could move ahead. As we now know, they did.
Let me read a little bit of a statement that came out from the White House straight from the president. It reads this, in part. "I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is safely on board the USS Boxer. His safety has been our principal concern and I know this is a welcome relief to his family and his crew. I'm also very proud of the efforts of the U.S. Military and many other departments and agencies who worked tirelessly to secure Captain Phillips' safe recovery."
We're all talking about we can now smile to report the good news, but it's also interesting now that we have this time line, Don, you and I have talking about it since yesterday to get a little window of how the decision-making happened.
It actually dates all the way back to Wednesday, the tick tock that we received when he first learned about it and lists the various briefings and phone calls and video conferences that the president received.
LEMON: All right, Kate Bolduan, stand by. I'm getting some new information here. I want to go to some new video. Let me get the facts on what is going on.
There it is, new video into the CNN NEWSROOM. That is Captain Richard Phillips. There he is, getting onto the USS Bainbridge. he looks like he's doing well to me. And we're glad. There he is.
This video just in to the CNN NEWSROOM, it is courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense. This video coming in moments ago; it is short but it is good to see that Captain Phillips is doing well. New video just in to the CNN NEWSROOM we are playing that for you.
You know what? Can we run that back? Let's see if we can hear any of the conversation. This video just coming in, you're seeing it as I am. I'm going to shut up and I'm going to see if you can hear any of it. Let's play it from the top, guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RICHARD PHILLIPS, RESCUED FROM PIRATES: Thanks, guys. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep it real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's good to hear. Sounds to me like he said, "Thanks guys. Thanks very much. Keep it real," or something like that. But whatever he said, it's all good. It is all good.
I want to bring in Bill Schneider. Let's let this video play as I bring in Bill Schneider who is our political analyst. Bill we'll keep this video up and we'll talk because we heard from our Kate Bolduan that the commander-in-chief really was the person who made the call here.
I don't think our viewers can get enough of that video. So you can roll it at any time guys and keep it up. They've seen Bill Schneider and I enough, they want to see Captain Richard Phillips. So keep rolling it.
The White House, the president really in charge of this operation; so how did they handle it?
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they handled it very well. This president has faced his first test and I think from now on, he is likely to be treated with a lot of respect in the world.
He authorized this decision early on. He reconfirmed that authorization to use military force if Captain Phillips' life was in imminent danger or his well-being was in imminent danger. Clearly it was and the trained navy SEALs, we believe that's who carried out the rescue operation, handled it masterfully.
But it was clearly authorized from the top and the president was involved at every stage along the way. This is the first test for President Obama. The question has been hanging over his administration ever since he took office, is he tough enough for the job?
You heard that from people around the world, from foreign leaders and diplomats. I kept hearing that question, when has he really been tested? Americans always thought he was a tough guy, he's cool under pressure, and he faced down two of the most formidable political operations in America namely the Clinton machine and the Republican political machine.
That's not enough for people around the world, for the diplomatic community. Now I think he's met this first test quite well and he will derive great respect from it.
LEMON: And you know, that's the administration, what do you think their report card sort of is? I guess this can be deemed, Bill, as we watch this video of Captain Richard Phillips, the first video we're getting from him since he was rescued from the clutches of those Somali pirates. This can be deemed an international crisis that the administration -- it will be looked at that the administration handled pretty well.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. The administration did handle it well. They appeared to be calm, cool, thoughtful in their response, very careful in the way they handled this. Imagine how damaging it would have been politically and diplomatically for the president if this had dragged on and on and the United States looked weak and ineffectual, or if, God forbid, any harm had come to Captain Phillips.
That would have been a political as well as a personal human catastrophe. But the president did come out of this very well. As did, thank goodness, Captain Phillips.
LEMON: And you know, we both have -- you and I have been doing this for a long time. You try to remain calm under situations, because we have to report so much bad or tragic news at times. But when I heard in my ear that there was video of Captain Richard Phillips going onto the USS Bainbridge, I got a bit emotional. And I wanted to see it, I couldn't wait.
I think the viewers at home want to see this as well. And if his wife and family are watching, I'm sure they're smiling right now, Bill Schneider.
SCHNEIDER: They are very gratified. The core of every story like this, every hostage story and we've seen far too many, human interest story. The family goes on television to plead for the well-being of their loved ones.
Political experts, policy advisers always argue, there's a lot at stake here; the credibility of the United States. There are principles of not negotiating with terrorists. The answer is, no. The one principle that's paramount here is human interest, protecting human lives.
And the television footage that we're now seeing dramatizes the importance of the human interest that is at the core of this story. And the administration clearly regarded that as the central element in this drama.
LEMON: All right, very well put. Bill Schneider, thank you very much. And I know that I'm being told to wrap. But guys, this is the money shot. So if we can re-cue that, and we'll go to break and we'll let our viewers see this from the top and hear it. And then we'll go to break.
Thank you, Bill. I'm going to shut up. We're going to listen to Captain Rich Phillips getting aboard the USS Bainbridge. Let's run it from the top, re-cue it please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Thanks, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be real.
PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: New video in to the CNN NEWSROOM. Check this out. Captain Richard Phillips. The first video of him alive and well after being held for five days on the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates. This is him getting onto the "USS Bainbridge." Not very long ago. U.S. Navy's 5th fleet who says Phillips who is 53, was resting comfortably after a medical exam in San Diego-based "USS Boxer" in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia. That was said at a press conference not long ago.
This is good news and good video and we certainly hope that the family and friends of Captain Richard Phillips are watching this moment right now. We're going to play it for you from the beginning let you listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RICHARD PHILLIPS: Thanks, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Be real.
LEMON: Captain Richard Phillips saying, thanks, guys, thank you so much, you're real. I'm sure he is so happy to be safe and he will be happy to see his family and share that chocolate Easter egg with his son, as conveyed by Vice Admiral Gorthney just a short time ago at a press conference. Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
By most if not all accounts Easter Sunday took a huge turn for the best around 12:20 Eastern time this afternoon, that is when U.S. Navy S.E.A.L.S shot and killed a trio of very well-armed Somali pirates and rescued American cargo ship Captain Richard Phillips. As you just saw there in the video, he was held hostage by pirates in a life boat for five grueling days at sea.
Here's what we know right now about this successful military operation that unfolded off the coast of Somalia. Can we get that video back up? Let's not see the panels. Let's see him as I'm talking.
Right now, Captain Phillips is safe aboard the "USS Boxer" where he's been given a medical checkup and declared to be in good shape and resting comfortably. Navy officials say they took advantage of a tactical mistake by the pirates who apparently left themselves prone to naval sharpshooters. Three pirates were killed, another pirate, a supposed negotiator, taken into custody.
And the Pentagon has declared some of the details of the rescue operation as clarified, I should say, by Vice Admiral William Gorthney, spoke by phone from the Navy central command in Bahrain tonight. He said the on-scene commander of the nearby warship "USS Bainbridge" decided the captain's life was in imminent danger and that it was time to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF WILLIAM GORTHNEY: We were going through a deliberate hostage negotiation process Which takes a significant period of time. And at periods during that time, tensions will go up and tensions will deescalate. At this particular point, when the hostage - when the first pirate got off, we were in I would say a deescalatory, lower point of the negotiations. Later this evening it got heated. And we - the on-scene commander thought that - interpreted hostile intent by the pirates. And took the appropriate action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: This has been drama on the high seas. Drama on land. As everyone watched this unfold. Captain Richard Phillips was held by pirates about five days. The world watched and waited. Each day generating its own headlines. I want to tell you how it played out now from beginning to successful end.
LEMON (voice-over): Early Wednesday, the 508-foot "Maersk Alabama" was steaming south about 300 miles off the coast of Somalia when it was boarded by four armed Somali pirates. A scuffle broke out and the pirates escaped in the ship's 28-foot enclosed life boat with Captain Richard Phillips as a hostage. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to clarify something. Right now. We never lost control of this ship. They never had this ship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't have the ship.
LEMON: The "USS Bainbridge" arrived on the scene the next day. Phillips jumped off the life boat in a bid to escape but was quickly recaptured. The "Alabama" was given a security detail and sent on to Kenya.
SUSAN CRONAN, SISTER OF A CREW MEMBER: I feel horrible about him, that he's stuck out there. I think that my brother and the crew, when they were told to leave and head to Kenya, I can only imagine that they felt horrible leaving the captain behind.
LEMON: On Good Friday, the guided missile frigate the "USS Halliburton" also arrived on the scene. On Saturday, the Navy sent a small group sailors on a boat to try to make contact with the pirates. But as the sailors approached they were fired on by the pirates and retreated. The "Alabama" docked that night in Mombassa, Kenya.
The FBI declared the ship a crime scene and quarantined the crew.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man is a hero, right here. Everybody on this ship holds the life of this man right here.
LEMON: Late Easter Sunday, the Navy launched a rescue operation that resulted in Phillips being freed. Three of the pirates were killed and one of the pirates was taken into custody.
LEMON: It was a very bold and daring rescue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well done. Well done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
LEMON: Listen to what the president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy said about it earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. RICK GURNON, PRES., MASSACHUSETTS MARITIME ACADEMY: It doesn't get better than this. It doesn't get better than this. This is exactly the way we wanted it to end, with the crew safe, with the cargo safe, and with the ship safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's take you now to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. CNN's Susan Candiotti is there. Susan, what are they saying about this, as we say, best case scenario? And also, are they able to see this new video of Captain Phillips?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, honestly, Don, the place has cleared out. But I'm sure they would be thrilled to see it and are probably watching it on television as we speak. And you know what else we learned today. We learn that there is fresh video also of one of the other freed hostages. And that would be or crew members, I should say. And that's Shane Murphy.
He is the one that took over the helm when Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage. And he was seen today on the deck of the "Maersk Alabama" talking with reporters from the railing, talking about his experience. And he said that when the pirates came aboard, that they never truly got control of the ship. But that he had to take the helm when of course Phillips was taken off the boat. He said that the U.S. Navy convinced them to move on and to leave the scene. They didn't want to have to leave behind their captain. But they were advised to. And finally they had to take that advice.
Earlier this day, you heard a little bit earlier as well from the admiral here. The president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy about what he thinks all of this means. He says he hopes it brings attention to this problem of piracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GURNON: An amazing amount of coordination. This is a dangerous opportunity for them to take. For us, we don't care how it went down, only that we've got Captain Phillips is home safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: And I think perhaps it is worth hearing again, those horns that were sounding just as soon as the news was heard that Captain Phillips was a free man and that he will soon be joining his family, as will the others. It was thrilling to hear that as it kept sounding again and again and again. Who did it?
Well, there were some cadets that were the skeleton staff on board the training ship "Kennedy," which is seen over my shoulder, and you might be seeing shots of that now as well. And the cadets were simply thrilled and wanted to take advantage of the situation, so yes, they blew the ship's whistle. Time and again.
And as you heard, Admiral Gurnon say, "it just doesn't get any better than this." Back to you.
LEMON: And as Captain Richard Phillips said in that video, "You're real." And we're glad it's real that he is OK. Thank you very much for that, Susan Candiotti.
Can you imagine what it must have been like on board that ship? CNN's Stan Grant is in Mombassa, Kenya with reaction from the "Maersk" crew members. We're getting this new video coming out here of Captain Richard Phillips getting onto the "USS Bainbridge." You have video of these guys aboard the ship. There he is right there standing. We are playing it and we hear him turn and say, "thank you. Thank you very much, you're real" as he gets on board the ship, all safe.
And you have video. You have also been talking to the guys who were there where you are about their experience aboard the ship. What are you hearing?
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. A show of defiance, really, from the men on board the ship. They draped the American flag over the side as they heard the news of Captain Phillips being rescued. And as you heard from Susan there, they are now stressing that at no stage did the pirates manage to get control of the vessel. They said that they fought back. I've managed close enough to ask questions of some of the crew members. And they've been able to paint a picture for me of what took place on board the ship as the pirates came on.
Now, they said the pirates were armed but some of the crew members managed to hide away in a secure area of the ship. Later, they jumped the pirates. There was a tussle in the engine room. One of the pirates was stabbed through the hand. In that way they were able to gain control of the ship and then bring it here to its dock in Mombassa in Kenya.
Now, the reason the FBI investigation is under way. The ship is being declared a crime scene. And the FBI have been speaking to the men. Getting their version of what took place on the high seas. Debriefing them. The men won't be able to leave the ship until an investigation is completed. At that point they'll be able to go home and able to reunite with the captain that they call a hero. Don.
LEMON: Stan Grant. And we heard from those guys just a little bit earlier when we played the story about how this all unfolded, how it started, how it played out and how it ended. And you heard them say, they had control of the ship, that the pirates never had control, they had the captain. Our Stan Grant, thank you, in Mombassa, Kenya, following the developments there.
You know, we're also following some breaking news. This time it is out of Thailand. That is exactly what you could call unrest. You're seeing new video into CNN, this is from Bangkok. The prime minister has declared a state of emergency as anti-government protests get more and more intense. Riot police are out in the streets clashing with an ever-growing number of protesters in the capital and surrounding areas. I want to go down to CNN's Dan Rivers who joins us tonight by phone from Bangkok. Dan, what is going on?
ON THE PHONE DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically the red shirts are trying to bring the city to its knees by closing as many main intersections as they can. I'm at one blockade of a main junction here, and there are several hundred red shirts who have commandeered a barque(ph) and parked it across the off-ramp of the expressway. They slashed the tires of a police truck as well. And what they're trying to do is face down the government which so far has appeared, it must be said, very weak and unwilling to order the police or the army to use much force.
That was, until a few hours ago when you saw from those pictures it appeared that they have started to try and crack down on this movement. I mean this has been going on for weeks and the red shirts have been demanding the resignation of the prime minister for weeks. But there's certainly a notching up of the intensity in the last couple of hours.
LEMON: Dan, talk to me about injuries. And I don't know if it has gotten to the point where anyone has been killed. Let's hope not. But is there - who's in danger, in harm's way? Are any Americans in this area, are they in harm's way?
RIVERS: I don't think so. This is taking place well away from the main tourist areas in Bangkok. And I've just driven through the city. It's very quiet. It's actually the beginning of the Thai new year today, so a lot of shops and people - shops are closed and people are out of the city anyway. The main tourist area seems to be fine. This is fairly localized around the main government ministries and around some of the main intersections, sort of on the outskirts of the city.
But obviously, you know, it's becoming increasingly volatile. It's the last thing Thailand needs for its beleaguered tourist industry. And already in the British government, anyway, has certainly issued a travel advisory warning, warning people to take care on the streets of Bangkok. I wouldn't be surprised if other governments follow suit.
LEMON: Boy, oh boy. Dan Rivers joining us from Bangkok. Dan, this video is amazing. It's amazing to see what's going on the streets there in Bangkok. We appreciate your reporting. If you're getting new information on this, bring it back to the CNN NEWSROOM.
And we want you to stay with us. A Somali insider will join us in a moment to talk about what he knows about those pirates and what happened on the high seas. Also, we want to hear from you. We want you to be part of our show. Twitter, Facebook, myspace, i-report.com. We've been following breaking news here. At some point we are going to get your responses on, we promise you. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
LEMON: Breaking news into the CNN NEWSROOM. We're following and it's coming out of Africa. And you can see there Captain Richard Phillips. New video just in moments ago getting onto the "USS Bainbridge." He is safe and sound. He has received medical treatment. He has gotten a warm meal. And he has spoken to his family and said he will be home soon. Don't touch those Easter eggs, son, because dad is on his way home.
Let's bring in now Said Samatar. He is the editor of the "Horn of Africa" journal. And without question, you have published many an article on the Somali pirates. You know a lot about them. As we were talking just a short time ago, I'm sorry I had to cut you off because we got new information in that new video in. The Al Qaeda connection. You are speaking about that. Do we know for sure, or is it just I guess guilt maybe by proximity here?
SAID SAMATAR, EDITOR "HORN OF AFRICA JOURNAL": I think it is just that guilt by proximity. I don't believe that there is any kind of connection between the pirates and Al Qaeda. Because the pirates are into business. This is an international criminal enterprise which goes beyond Somalia. As far as the influence of Al Qaeda in Somalia. There is some influence. But it is very tenuous. I'd say, with respect to Al Qaeda and Somalia, America, lighten up. I do not believe that you'll ever have a grassroots extremist organization in Somalia. Because the Somali social structure mitigates against it.
LEMON: Isn't there the risk, though, Mr. Samatar, that Al Qaeda may become interested and may approach this group? I mean, there's always a possibility is what I'm saying. If they're so close, that's why I said, guilt by proximity.
SAMATAR: Yes, there is always a possibility.
SAMATAR: And Al Qaeda, of course, loves to fish in the troubled waters of any disgruntled and heavy Muslim community. But the Somali scene doesn't permit it.
LEMON: OK. Let's talk about what happens next. You talked about the punt government. If you were to be advising and since you know a lot about it perhaps that's not a bad idea. If you were advising the government or officials who are dealing with this problem, what would you say to them should be their next move?
SAMATAR: Two steps they should take, in my view. Again, I keep on repeating but I think it is worth repeating. First, effective intelligence. Second, dealing with the elders. Third, holding Somali land, the government, accountable for what is happening in their area.
LEMON: Thank you. Said Samatar. Very good information. We appreciate you joining us tonight. We're going to move on now and talk about a man who has been at the heart of the Somali pirate haven for years. He's going to join us in a moment to give us an inside information as well.
And again, we want your thoughts. We really do. We are going few get them on. We have been following breaking news. And every time we try to get them on we get some new information we have to get on. We want your thoughts. I will get your thoughts on our air. Twitter, Facebook, myspace, ireport.com. Tell us what you are thinking. If you know the family members, if you know aboard on this boat or if you just have something that you want to get off your chest. That's where you put it on. Breaking news about the successful bringing home, I don't want to say capture, the successful bringing home of Captain Rich Phillips. Dad is on his way home. He will be in Vermont soon. You're watching CNN.
LEMON: Breaking news into the CNN NEWSROOM. New video of Captain Richard Phillips boarding the "USS Bainbridge" just a short time ago. Originally we were told that this video was courtesy of the Department of Defense, actually it was the U.S. Navy who provided us with this video. It is very interesting to see this. And a lot of folks are happy. I'm sure family members and friends of Captain Richard Phillips are excited to see this video. Their first glimpse of him since he was taken hostage by those Somali pirates on Wednesday in the Indian Ocean.
I want to talk now to Dr. Bob Arnot. He is a former network news correspondent. He has been up close and personal with Somali pirates. He has actually been to their headquarters. I spoke with him just a short time ago.
DR. BOB ARNOT, FMR. MEDICAL REPORTER FOR NBC AND CBS: These guys are really bad. They're real gangsters. They're ex-Somali marines and Navy. You remember when Somalia was a country they were merciless. If you're in Somali waters, you were dead. They're not afraid of killing anybody. The difficulty with these particular pirates, these fishermen is there are hundreds of thousand of these guys. And they don't care if they get killed, the mainstream pirates. So they go out. They freelance. Then the big guys take over.
LEMON: It's very interesting. Because Dr. Bob, you have covered Somalia since 1991. And, according to our Pentagon correspondent, the pirate that's captured, maybe as young as 16 years old. Tell us abut these young guys and how they come to this, Dr. Bob?
ARNOT: Well, you go up to these pirate bases. I was up in Bosasa, which is the capital of Puntland. Puntland is sort of you know, the main pirate nation if you would. You know, waters have been over fished. You know the Russians, the Poles, the Japanese have been in there. They don't have any fish left. There's no country left. There's no place to get a job. So what do they do? They take their fishing boat. They go offshore and they try to get a vessel.
Now, it's interesting in terms of the investment part of it. Let's say you want to invest in pirate futures. Roughly 20 percent is going to go back to the, sort of, cheap pirates. 30 percent goes to equipment, like the grenades and the RPGs and the GPSs. Another 20 percent goes to the town elders. You got 30 percent when it is all over. But it is a very simple investment for the businessmen on shore.
LEMON: Dr. Bob Arnot, my conversation with him just a short time ago. Make sure you stay with CNN for more coverage of our breaking news, straight ahead. We got the new video in without warning. And we're getting new details. At any second, at any moment they could be coming in to us so you want to keep it tune right here. Also we're going to get your responses on. Promise you in just a moment. Twitter, Facebook, myspace, or I-report.com. Your last chance to get them in before the top of the hour.
LEMON: Our breaking news is good news here. And it's new video of Captain Richard Phillips. First glimpse of him after being held hostage for, almost six days. The Indian Ocean aboard a small rescue boat. He is getting on to the "USS Bainbridge" right there. Here is some of your responses. Melbourne3 says, way to go USA. Philly girl says excellent and exciting coverage. All week. Great job to our Navy Seals. Very excited about it. Also, some folks says what do you know about the condition of the captured Somali pirate?
We don't know anything about the condition of the captured Somali pirates yet but we're trying. Definitely shows the bravery and determination of the U.S. Navy. We agree with you. Hi, Don. Great coverage of the pirate story. I wonder if Somalia will ever be part of the world community.
And "Larry King live" starts right now. I'll see you right back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Sorry, it's "State of the Union" with John King. No "Larry King live." We'll see you at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.