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U.S. Cargo Ship Captain Rescued

Aired April 12, 2009 - 14:00   ET



ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we heard here in London from a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation on the ground who initially said that three of the pirates had been killed and one was in custody and Captain Richard Phillips himself was freed a short while ago and on the USS Bainbridge.

The source indicated, as well, that the captain has not been injured and that he is OK. It's unclear where the USS Bainbridge is headed to. Possibly the port of Mombasa in Kenya, but it wasn't clear where exactly it would head.

The source additionally gave information on what exactly happened in those critical moments and what we're given to understand is that the three pirates were shot by Navy Seals or U.S. military personnel and the opportunity that arose was when the captain, once again, jumped overboard and that provided an important opportunity, a critical one.

It left the pirates exposed in the boat and even though they tried to train their rifles and kill Rich Phillips they, themselves, were shot to death before they could pull their own triggers. One pirate is in custody who had apparently gone on to the USS Bainbridge to negotiate and that's all the information we have right now.

Captain Richard Phillips is freed. The details of the operation are still unclear, but this is according to the one source with knowledge of the situation on the ground.

LONG: That's the news that everybody wanted to hear, that he is safe of course today, on this Easter Sunday. Zain Verjee live for us from London.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has been in Captain Phillips home town now for the last couple of days. That's Underhill, Vermont. I know the town is covered in yellow ribbons and I would imagine everyone there is ecstatic with this news.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is making its way around town at this point, Melissa. They find out the news that Captain Phillips is, indeed, safe at this point. It is interesting to note that over the entire time that we have been here, everyone was been optimistic that this would indeed be the outcome. We talked to several people and the people who have known Captain Phillips are saying the resolute guy, he'll stay cool until that moment and he'll make it happen. Pretty much in line with what we're hearing here as well.

We've also learned that this is quite a family man and what he has done while he's been gone. It's pretty much in line with how he treats his family. They're saying he's all about his family when he's here on land and when he's out on sea, he is all about his crew. So his behavior has been in line with what the people here in Underhill, Vermont, know him to be like.

LONG: I know that we are just learning about his release and of the fact that he is freed for the last 40 minutes or so, Stephanie, but I understand his family has known for several hours now.

ELAM: We went over to -- when we got the OK from CNN that we had confirmation that Captain Phillips was safe, we went over, we knocked on the door and we were greeted by a gentleman who told us that they've known for hours that Captain Phillips was safe.

The response was very calm, very muted. But at the same time, I have to keep, imagine what it would be like if your loved one was in this situation since Wednesday morning. So not knowing the outcome until a few hours ago earlier today on Sunday, Easter Sunday, at that, would have to be completely draining.

The time that I did see Mrs. Phillips when she did come out briefly to say that she wanted to wait until there was good news to come before the cameras, she was completely gracious, but you could tell she was also very tired. You can only imagine the stress that this has put her through. So at this point, they're saying -- they are directing everyone to speak to the shipping company in Virginia, Maersk Lines there, to get an idea of what's going on with Captain Phillips. They're not talking to the media just yet, but we're going to see -- and get a response there to see exactly how they feel about this really good news coming out today. Melissa?

LONG: I do have in my hand a press release from Maersk about this and we're waiting for a news conference some time today, some time on Sunday. I know you were just telling us about the captain's wife. We understand he has two college age children who are at home this weekend.

ELAM: Right. That's what we heard. They have also been in the house. The family has been staying very much away from coming out to deal with any media. We did talk with one woman today who said that her fiancee knows one of the college aged children there and saying that she was just trying to reach out to find out how the family is doing. But for the most part, it seems like they have stayed very close knit with their family in the house awaiting this good news.

LONG: Stephanie Elam live for us from Vermont, from the hometown of Captain Richard Phillips. Thanks so much, Stephanie.

And I mention that we're waiting for a news conference from Maersk Limited, the headquarters there in Norfolk, Virginia. Want to show you some live pictures right now of the crew onboard. Let me ask my producer. I'm sorry this is live from Port of Mombasa in Kenya. Live pictures of the crew, of course as that they are hearing the information that they have all been waiting for, that Captain Richard Phillips is now a free man. Live pictures for you right now.

While we're looking at the live pictures, I want to share some of the comments from the president and CEO of Maersk Lines Limited, again the company that has its headquarters out of Norfolk, Virginia. Mr. Reinhart, we heard from him yesterday and this is a direct quote from Mr. Reinhart. He says, "We're all absolutely thrilled to learn that Richard is safe and will be reunited with his family. Maersk Line Limited is deeply grateful to the Navy, the FBI and so many others for their tireless efforts to secure Richard's freedom. We join Richard's family, his crew and his colleagues in celebrating this wonderful news. We look forward to welcoming him home in the coming days." And again that's John Reinhart, the president, chief executive officer of Maersk Line Limited.

We're anticipating a news conference from Maersk at any time this afternoon. Of course, when they step to the microphone, we bring it to you live. And these are live pictures right now of the crew. All smiles, of course, after several arduous days in the high seas and learning today that Captain Richard Phillips is a free man.

Harry Humphries, we've been relying on him and his expertise this afternoon. He is a former Navy Seal. He joins us live on the line right now. Mr. Humphries, some people may just be turning on the television for the very first time just learning that the captain is, in fact, a free man. So I want to get back to the very basics of the story. Exactly how does something like this go down in the high seas?

HARRY HUMPHRIES, FORMER NAVY SEAL (on phone): Well, basically, this is a unique situation. It's really a law enforcement hostage rescue situation. Of course, in that it was on the high seas and in that particular area fell into the auspices of the CTF 151 group which is dedicated totally to anti-piracy in the region.

Tactically, you must isolate the situation, prevent any support, enemy support from entering the scene. And once that has been done, the crime scene has been cordoned off, the available assets are placed, i.e., underwater perhaps and certainly in the air and on the water and wait for the right opportunity. This is when time becomes your friend, your companion.

You had an isolated group of folks that were eventually going to get tired, hungry and disenchanted with their venture and this is exactly what happened here. These guys were tired of sitting in that little bobbing cork. They were negotiating with the Bainbridge and during that process, the captain saw, yet again, another opportunity to create the escape scenario.

He jumped over the side there by allowing the support vessel or the cork, as I previously mentioned, become a target, which in fact it did. The combatants in the area, I'm not saying they were seals, I'm not saying they were armed ship board folks, but nonetheless armed individuals that fired upon the pirates once they opened fire, tried to open fire on the captain in the water. Thus we have a freed captain.

LONG: You called it a bobbing cork. It is a covered life boat. Tell us what it is like to be on there for days on end.

HUMPHRIES: Well, in reality, they couldn't have been in a better situation, in terms of being in the isolated, out of view, in that that particular style of life boat is a covered canopy boat. But they did have, in fact, enough food and water for some 20 odd people for 10 days, so there were still plenty of assistance on board to keep them in a position where they could continue to wait it out.

I am surprised that they tired as quickly as they did, but that shows the quality of the individual that we're dealing with, not willing to extend themselves for the mission that they had put themselves on. The comforts are not exactly the best. There are no head facilities. But by virtue of the fact that they were covered out of the sun and wind elements, they were in an ideal situation to do what they were are trying to do.

LONG: That is Harry Humphries, a former Navy Seal providing us with some terrific perspective on this Sunday afternoon. Mr. Humphries, thank you so much for your time, really appreciate it.

Coming up on just about 10 minutes after the hour, about 50 minutes from now, we have learned of a news conference and, of course, we're going to bring it to you live from Buzzard's bay. That is the maritime academy where Captain Phillips received his training wrapping up and graduating back in 1979. They're holding a news conference we've been told at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And at some time today, of course, we will hear from the officials of Maersk Limited from the headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. Waiting on that news conference, as well.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Of course, our breaking news today of Captain Phillips, now a free man. We're going to take this brief break, and of course, more news right after that.


LONG: Breaking news today that Captain Richard Phillips is a free man. Here is what we know, he is uninjured. Sources tell CNN he jumped overboard again off a lifeboat that pirates had been holding him on since Wednesday in the Indian Ocean off the coast line of Somalia.

The U.S. military taking advantage of the situation. Three of the four Somali pirates are dead, they were reportedly shot by U.S. Navy Seals and a fourth is in custody. Phillips is now safely aboard the U.S. Navy's warship the USS Bainbridge.

It is coming up on 2:15 in the afternoon. About 45 minutes from now, we are waiting for a news conference from Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts. That is the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where the captain received his training and graduated back in 1979. We're also waiting for a news conference from Maersk Limited, the Maersk Line Limited from their headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

We heard earlier today in this form of a press release from John Reinhart. He is the president and chief executive officer of the company and he said, "We're absolutely all thrilled that Richard is safe and will be reunited with his family. Maersk Line Limited is deeply grateful to the Navy, the FBI and so many others for their tireless efforts to secure Richard's freedom."

Speaking of the FBI, I understand, I believe right now we have a former FBI negotiator live for us. If we do, perfect. Chris Voss joins us live from Washington, D.C. Chris, thanks for your time and your perspective you're going to share with us.


LONG: The term itself, negotiator, when it comes to negotiating with the pirates, how is that even possible?

VOSS: Well, it's for professional negotiator it's not that difficult, it's what we do for a living. Now in this sort of a resolution to a situation, negotiations and tactics work hand in glove. In the United States, domestically, we're used to about 83 percent of our situations are resolved with a combination of negotiations and tactics.

A negotiator approaches this trying to accomplish a variety of missions at the same time. Trying to move it towards a peaceful resolution, but also trying to create opportunities for tactical intervention or if any patterns begin to develop in the behavior of the criminals, the pirates in this case, then tactical elements at the scene, the navy, learn from it and they can prepare themselves if any of those conditions repeat, which is exactly what happened here today. Then negotiators help support the creation of that.

LONG: I have to ask you though, this is out of the realm of what would be something that is familiar with many people. This is in the high seas in the Indian Ocean. You're dealing with several Somali pirates, four, armed with AK-47 rifles. How do you actually facilitate a negotiation?

VOSS: Well, they establish communication. They had been communicating prior by radio. There are a lot of things in a negotiation to talk about other than the specific bargaining. Bargaining is actually a small component of negotiating in any instance, whether it's a business negotiation or whether it's a hostage negotiation.

Relationships have to be established, even as bizarre as it sounds. In situations like this and the negotiators begin to develop a complete three dimensional picture of what's going on on the inside and then you begin to look for resolutions. You look for peaceful resolution or you look for a tactical resolution. And sort of the pirates, the criminals, make those choices and the navy, the law enforcement responds appropriately.

LONG: Want to remind our viewers if they're just turning on the television right now, you're looking at a live picture at the port of Mombasa in Kenya. That is the Maersk Alabama, which has now pulled into port. It pulled into port yesterday and of course it was Captain Richard Phillips who was at one point in charge of that vessel before he was taken hostage by the four pirates. Three of them shot by U.S. military or possibly U.S. Navy Seals. One of the pirates was on the USS Bainbridge.

Chris, what do you think of that part of the story, that that one pirate was on the USS Bainbridge while the three others were still of course in that -- it was called the bopping cork earlier today, but that covered canopy, that life boat?

VOSS: Well, that would have accomplished several purposes at the same time. They would have allowed him to come aboard to negotiate just to show that anything that they said they would stick to, negotiators' credibility is extremely important. If the negotiations would have continued, they probably would have let him go back to his boat so that they could try to obtain a peaceful resolution.

They weren't going to let the pirates get away and they needed to show them that they could be dealt with, the navy needed to show that they could be dealt with reasonably if the pirates were going to be reasonable. This opportunity came up and it was a perfect combination of circumstances.

LONG: Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator, live from the Washington, D.C. studio on a holiday weekend. Thanks so much. Don't go away, because we want to continue to get your perspective.

I want to check in right now with CNN's Stan Grant, who is live in Mombasa, Kenya. He is live at the port of Mombasa where of course the Maersk Alabama docked yesterday. And we have seen some live pictures, Stan, of people, of the crew members that I'm sure they're learning the news and they must just be ecstatic.

STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely overjoyed, wouldn't they. This is the news they have been waiting for. When the crew members came in just about 24 hours ago to dock here in Mombasa in Kenya though and describing Captain Phillips as a hero. They said that he saved their lives.

Now the ship itself has been declared a crime scene. The FBI is onboard. Those investigators have been speaking to the crew members throughout the day, trying to piece together exactly what happened on the ship when the pirates came aboard and seized the vessel and then how did the crew members manage to wrestle control of the vessel back from the pirates?

We managed to speak to a few of the crew members and they described the scenes. They described the pirates coming aboard in the early hours of the morning. They said that they were armed. They said that some members of the crew managed to hide out in a secure area of the ship and then were able to tackle, to jump on the pirates and a tussle ensued in the engine room.

We're told that one of the pirates had been stabbed through the hand. At some point, there was an exchange. At some point, Captain Phillips went with the pirates themselves and was taken hostage while the crew members held a pirate, as well. They tried to do an exchange, originally, and they handed over the pirate but the pirates themselves did not hand back Captain Phillips.

Now the crew have managed to come here. They are safely in dock, but they are unable to leave that ship and unable to make any official comment until the investigation is completed. But absolutely overjoyed at this news. There is no doubt.

LONG: As we're looking at live pictures right now at the vessel of the port of Mombasa, we learned yesterday of course that this is now an FBI investigation. So Stan, the crew members must stay onboard that ship?

GRANT: They must stay onboard that ship. There is very, very tight security in place. Cargo containers have been erected between the ship and also the media, to try to keep the media away. Now, the crew members are not making any official statements. They have wandered at various stages of the day to the edge of the ship and they have engaged in very light conversation, talking about how they're resting up, how they would like to get home and how desperate they are to see their families.

But apart from that initial exchange where they allowed us some invitation of the tussle that took place onboard the ship as they wrestled with the pirates for control, we haven't been able to piece together any more of the information. They will stay onboard that ship until that investigation is completed. They could take, we are hearing anything from 24 to 48 hours. The crew members may be able to hit home around about Tuesday. All of that still up in the air though, Melissa.

LONG: So poignant to see the American crew members holding the stars and stripes, holding the American flag as they are on the Maersk Alabama. Stan Grant again live for us from the port of Mombasa.

I do have to ask about the cargo itself. This ship was carrying humanitarian aid. It has reached its destination. What happens with the humanitarian aid and that cargo?

GRANT: Very, very desperately needed this humanitarian aid and this food aid that was aimed to be deposited with the World Food Program. And here's the irony in all of this, the twist in the tale if you like.

We spoke to the World Food Program country director for Somalia. This food aid is destined for Somalia. It is desperately needed. That is a country that is in chaos. It is a lawless country with no functioning central government. Warlords battle for control, a rising Islamist rebel movement has seized large parts of the country.

This food aid was destined for those people, to help those people in Somalia. Speaking to the World Food Program country director, he said it is these activities by the pirates that are putting at risk future food aid that is desperately needed, so desperately needed for those people, Melissa.

LONG: And again just to stress, because I'm sure it's at the top of so many people's mind. When could those crew members be heading home? I know it's very fluid and it's very much up in the air, but it could actually happen this week?

GRANT: It could happen, it's expected to happen this week. Obviously, the investigators are sensitive to the situation the crew members find themselves in. They have been through an absolutely extraordinary ordeal. What is extraordinary about this story is how it has turned out.

Most of the time when these hijackings take place, the crew members and the ships themselves are held to ransom, but ransom is paid and then the crew members and the ships are released. There are still more than 200 hostages being held by Somalian pirates off the coast of Somalia right now as we speak.

But what is extraordinary in this case is the crew members are able to wrestle control of the boat back and now make it here to port. So they are desperate to go home. They want to see their families. They are in good spirits. They are in good health and they are cooperating with the investigation. The earliest we are hearing is perhaps Tuesday that they may be able to go home, Melissa.

LONG: Stan Grant, live for us from Mombasa, Kenya. Stan, thank you so much.

Coming up at about 3:00 p.m. Eastern, it's about 40 minutes from now, we have heard that there will be a news conference from Buzzard's Bay. That's Massachusetts Maritime Academy. It is the academy where Captain Phillips trained and graduated in 1979. A live picture right now as they're getting ready to set up that news conference. Obviously, some color bars right there, but, again, they're getting ready for that news conference coming up at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Maersk Line Limited also expected to hold a news conference a little bit later today. We have received the official press release from the president and CEO, but of course waiting to hear from him live as soon as he steps to the microphone at Norfolk, Virginia, at the headquarters. We'll bring you that as well.

Just stay with CNN today, of course, jubilant community there in Underhill, Vermont, the hometown of the captain. We'll be checking in with our colleagues there, as well, a little bit later. And for now, though, we're going to take a brief break and we're going to continue to follow this breaking news story.


LONG: Coming up on the bottom of the hour, the breaking news story today, American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips, a free man. Here's what we know. He is uninjured. Sources tell CNN he jumped overboard again, a second time, off that life boat the pirates had been holding him on in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia since Wednesday.

Three of the four Somali pirates have been killed by U.S. Navy Seals during the rescue, shot and killed. A fourth is now in custody. Phillips is safely aboard the U.S. Navy's warship, the USS Bainbridge. A moment ago, I mentioned that there was a fourth pirate that was being held. We have learned that the Justice Department will be reviewing the evidence and other issues to determine to seek prosecution in the United States. That is from a Justice Department spokesperson.

Of course, the jurisdiction is important when it comes to the high seas and the Indian Ocean and, of course, prosecution, as well, but the Justice Department spokesperson reporting today that they will be reviewing the evidence and other issues in order to determine whether or not to seek prosecution in the United States.

Want to bring in two of our guests that have been joining us for the last hour or so to provide us with so much perspective, once again. Chris Voss is in Washington, D.C., in the studio for us. He's a former FBI negotiator and also Harry Humphries, former Navy Seal, and he joins us live on the line. Gentlemen, thanks so much on this holiday weekend for joining us. We do really appreciate it.

VOSS: My pleasure, Melissa.

HUMPHRIES: My pleasure.

LONG: So Chris and Harry, I'm not sure if you had the opportunity to hear what Stan Grant had to say a moment ago. Right before we went to break, we had a report from Stan, who is live at the port of Mombasa and, Chris, if you did have the opportunity, I wanted to get your perspective on what he was reporting there.

VOSS: Well as far as how long it would be before the crew would be released?

LONG: Exactly, possibly Tuesday.

VOSS: Well, it doesn't take too long to get their statements. Getting their statements right now is extremely important. They're going to be exposed to a lot of information about this incident after they're off the ship. With interviews with family from news reports and it's extremely important for the FBI to get a clear idea of what they knew only from the incident and they want to be able to show they didn't learn it from after the incident.

LONG: Chris, I'm so sorry to cut you off, right there. Don't go away though. What I've been told is we have to check in with CNN's Barbara Starr. She is live in Bahrain with some new information we just had to share. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, the U.S. Navy central command here in Bahrain has just put out a statement about Captain Phillips. They are saying now that he was rescued at 12:19 Eastern time today, that he was taken from the Bainbridge which was the ship closest to him, flown by helicopter to another ship nearby the USS Boxer."

At this hour, resting comfortably in the words of the U.S. Navy. Onboard the USS Boxer, he has contacted his family. He has received a routine medical exam and evaluation. The fact that the navy calls it routine, I think everyone at this point believes is very good news for Captain Phillips, not injured at this point.

So he has now been moved to the next ship, the USS Boxer, resting comfortably, contacting his family. The Navy also confirming three pirates were killed, the Navy calling this a rescue operation.

We are likely to learn all of the details in the coming hours that the Navy is willing to release, but by all accounts, this was a rescue operation. We are told that Captain Phillips, at some point...

LONG: Obviously, a bit of a technical glitch right there. Barbara Starr joining us live from the other side of the world, from Bahrain with some very important information, as we have learned. Again, that the captain is a free man, he has been transferred from the USS Bainbridge by chopper to another vessel, the USS Boxer.

He has had the opportunity to contact family in Vermont and has had a routine medical check-up, as well. He is, obviously, uninjured, and we'll, of course, look forward to hearing from him, looking forward to hearing from Maersk Line Limited a little bit later today, as well.

We want to bring in CNN's Zain Verjee. She is live for us from London. She is one of our CNN correspondents -- Zain.


LONG: Zain, I hate to do this, but we're having a technical glitch with the cell phone contact right there. I'm not sure if you're able to move to another location or not. But of course, we want to hear what you have to say. While she perhaps moves to the other side of the room, we all know, of course, how difficult cell phone communication can be sometimes, and how inconvenient, as well.

Let's bring in Chris Voss, who is live in our Washington, D.C., studio. I think we can count on that communication. He is a former FBI negotiator; and also Harry Humphries (ph) is a former Navy SEAL who joins us live on the line.

Gentlemen, once again, thank you so much, I'm sorry I had to cut off our conversation earlier. Let's go with some of the nuggets we know about, the actual rescue itself. Three of the pirates shot by U.S. military, U.S. Navy SEALs, one pirate is currently being held hostage. He was, in fact, negotiating at the time with personnel on the USS Bainbridge.

Chris, tell us exactly what that means, that he was negotiating.

CHRIS VOSS, FMR. FBI NEGOTIATOR: Well, a lot of things were have gone into that decision. A friend of mine once described this type of negotiation as three-dimensional chess.

It would have mattered as to which pirate the Navy was going to allow to come aboard the ship, it would have been important to them whether or not they had the leader of the pirates coming aboard to negotiate or someone that they considered who might possibly have been the most dangerous pirate and get him off that tub for the time being.

Or maybe even the most reasonable of the three. It would have been a number of elements that would have gone into deciding who they even would have let come aboard the ship to negotiate in the first place.

LONG: Tell me about the dynamics and what you know about the dynamics. Again, four pirates, armed with AK-47 rifles. You say there's one leader. How does the power shake out among them?

VOSS: Well, there's generally someone who's going to be the most important decision-maker. There is going to be someone who might want to do all of the talking. Those might not be the same people. A lot of times the decision-maker is going to lay back and let someone else be the spokesman.

And there is probably some -- even a third who might be the most dangerous among the group. During the course of the negotiations, the negotiator's job is to figure out who these personalities are and what they're likely to do under a given series of circumstances, continually feed that to the people that they're working for so that they can make tactical plans for possible tactical resolution.

LONG: Harry Humphries, again, a former Navy SEAL joining us, he is on the phone for us right now.

And, Mr. Humphries, once again, thanks so much, because I know you have been with us for more than an hour now. When you heard the news of three of the pirates shot by U.S. Navy SEALs and one pirate who was in the negotiation process, what was your immediate reaction to that?

HARRY HUMPHRIES, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, I mean, it's something that I anticipated. It was a question of time, creating the opportunity to allow a firefight to, in fact, be initiated without our hero to be in the midst of the fire, and that was created when he jumped over the side. But I'd like to make a comment to that.

LONG: Of course.

HUMPHRIES: Basically, you know what, there has been a lot of talk about why the president isn't doing this and that, but I don't think the folks out there understand the massive, massive military structure that resides out there.

And there are so many chains of command under General David Petraeus who, of course, is the commander of CENTCOM. And then he has component commanders under him, one of which is a component commander -- Naval Component Command, which is headed up by Vice Admiral Gortney, who we saw on the show yesterday.

And Vice Admiral Gortney, he actually formed up CTF, or Counter TF (ph), or Combined Task Force 151 in January of this year. And their mission is strictly anti-piracy, controlling the seas to be a visual presence in the area of the shipping lanes.

CIF-151 has a flagship, which is the Boxer and that's where our captain is presently aboard, on that flagship. And of course, CTF-151 is commanded by Rear Admiral McKnight. And very well done, all of those people and those commands over there.

LONG: An opportunity to learn about the hierarchy and the leadership in the Navy, as well. Gentlemen, don't go away. I just want to take a moment to show you and show our viewers at home also a new photograph just in to us here at CNN.

This is a photograph of Captain Phillips, Captain Richie Phillips, as he is known to family and friends. This is courtesy of the U.S. Navy. And again, all smiles. All smiles as he is a free man today after more than 100 hours being held by pirates in the Indian Ocean on the high seas for more than five days.

We're going to continue to rely on the terrific expertise of Chris Voss, who is a former FBI negotiator, Mr. Humphries, as well, a former Navy SEAL. And, of course, our terrific team of correspondents all across the globe.

We're going to take this brief break and bring you more breaking news right after it.


LONG: Holiday weekend Sunday, April 12th. And today American cargo ship Captain Richard Phillips is a free man. Here's what we know about him right now. He's uninjured. Sources tell us he jumped overboard, again, a second time off that lifeboat that pirates had been holding him on in the Indian Ocean for five days.

Three of the four Somali pirates killed -- shot and killed by U.S. Navy SEALs during the rescue, the fourth is now in custody. Phillips is safely aboard the U.S. Navy's warship the USS Boxer, and has been able to contact his family.

Let me tell you a little bit more about the initial moments right after the captain was freed. He was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, which, of course, was in close proximity to that lifeboat.

Then flown by chopper to the USS Boxer, where again he is now, had the opportunity to have a medical -- routine medical evaluation, contact his loved ones back home in Vermont, and is now, according to the press release, resting comfortably. Isn't that wonderful to hear? Again, one pirate in custody, three of them killed in that rescue.

I want to bring back in CNN's Susan Candiotti. She is live for us in Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts at the Maritime Academy where the captain received his training and graduated back in 1979.

And, Susan, I turn it over to you.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, to say that there is a celebratory mood here at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy is an understatement. Everyone here is quite joyful.

As a matter of fact, you'll probably remember hearing it live on CNN, the horn on the training ship Kennedy has been sounding off here periodically to mark the occasion, the great happiness here that, in fact, Captain Richard Phillips, as well as all members of the Maersk Alabama are now free.

And just after it happened, we spoke with the admiral here, Admiral Rick Gurnon, who is the president of this academy. And he talked about his reaction to the rescue operation carried out by the U.S. Navy SEALs.


ADM. RICK GURNON, PRES., MASSACHUSETTS MARITIME ACADEMY: 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 have got Captain Phillips home safe.


CANDIOTTI: And of course, we have also heard from other people who knew personally Captain Richard Phillips, including some other people who teach here at the school. One of them said, in particular, this is better than the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series.

In just a little while from now, Admiral Gurnon will be addressing members of the news media here to talk further about his elation about the wonderful news that Captain Richard Phillips has been freed.

Back to you, Melissa.

LONG: Susan Candiotti, live for us from Buzzards Bay.

And again, waiting for that 3:00 p.m. news conference which has been scheduled, as well, from the Maritime Academy.

Also, of course, at some point today we have been told that Maersk Line Unlimited -- Maersk Line Limited, rather, not Unlimited, Limited, will be holding a news conference at some point today. And, of course, as soon as they do, we'll bring it to you live.

Let me bring in now General Mark Kimmitt out of our Washington, D.C., bureau. He is a former assistant secretary of state under the Bush administration.

Thank you so much for your time and, again, for coming in on a holiday weekend, we really do appreciate it.

GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FMR. ASST. SECY. OF STATE: Thanks for having me.

LONG: First and foremost, with the news that's breaking today, I'm just interested in your initial thought on the development that we now have the captain free. KIMMITT: Well, I think all of us are very, very proud of what the captain did and we're proud of our sailors and SEALs out there, and the FBI that have contributed to this success.

But I think all of us have got to recognize that this one incident is not going to solve the overall issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

LONG: We're looking right now on your television screen at the right-hand side of the first picture we have of Captain Phillips. This is provided to us by the U.S. Navy. All smiles, understandably so, I'm sure all smiles back home in Vermont, as well.

General Kimmitt, I want to talk to you a little bit more about this case, because it's not an isolated one. We have seen piracy cases time and time again on the high seas. But we've seen an uptick in it in recent weeks, the last, I guess four to five weeks. Why is that?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, it's seasonal, the waters in that area are now starting to calm down. This is the piracy season, it will continue on until probably late fall. But in terms of overall statistics, the numbers have gone down a bit on a year-to-year basis.

LONG: When we look at the fact that we're using the term "negotiate" with pirates, that we know that there was one pirate, who is now in custody, who was on the USS Bainbridge negotiating, how is it even possible to negotiate with pirates in the high seas?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, let's realize that these are not terrorists. These are criminals, they are taking hostages. How they conduct the hostage negotiations is over standard communications lines, but we've got to understand that as soon as the pirates are able to put their guns against the head of the captain, we no longer have a piracy situation, we have a hostage situation.

And that's why the FBI is brought in. That's why the experts are brought in on kidnapping and hostage situations.

LONG: No longer a pirate situation, but, again, a hostage situation.


LONG: Also, of course, the pirates from Somalia, talk to us right now about what life is like in Somalia and the motivation for the pirates.

KIMMITT: Well, I think the world knows what the situation looks like in Somalia right now. It is to a great degree a failed state. There have been a number of attempts to try to put in a transitional federal government. It has not yet succeeded extending its writ beyond a couple of blocks, much less the whole country.

It is a fairly desperate situation. But it's also important to recognize that there are those that would suggest that we can't stop the piracy problem until we fix Somalia, need to understand we can't wait 10 years to fix the piracy problem, it needs to be fixed in the near term.

LONG: OK. Fix the piracy problem. How do you do that?

KIMMITT: Well, there are a number of ways. There have been a significant amount of efforts over the past six months that are bearing fruit. The U.N. Security Council has a very robust mandate that they embraced in December.

I think we can see that the military is far, far more active, not simply the U.S. military, but a broad coalition of nations that have been able to push the piracy problem for the most part out of the Gulf of Aden down off to the coast of Somalia.

We need to take more active judicial measures, as well. You can't simply let the pirates be captured and sent back to shore. They have to be prosecuted in the courts around the world.

Piracy is an international crime, there's universal jurisdiction and the world, and quite frankly, the industry needs to take more action against the pirates to compliment the great work that has been done by our State Departments and by our Defense Departments.

LONG: You said universal jurisdiction, prosecution obviously necessary. But it is complicated.

KIMMITT: Well, it is complicated in terms of collecting the evidence. It is complicated in the sense of bringing the crew to the courts. It is complicated in terms of the fact that you certainly can't try these pirates in Somalia.

But we have a memorandum of understanding with Kenya now for them to prosecute. Clearly in this case where American interests have been attacked and American troops -- excuse me, American people have been taken, I would hope to see these pirates prosecuted in American courts.

LONG: The pirates are quite brazen. There seems to be this era of invincibility, if I may say that. With three of them shot and killed, one now being held hostage, do you think this will deter future attacks?

KIMMITT: Well, I certainly hope so. That invincibility has simply been created because there has been lack of action against the pirates in the past. There were some problems with trying to get sort of end-to-end justice taken care of, but it looks like that's happening now.

We are starting to prosecute pirates in countries around the world. We are taking more aggressive measures as seen by today's example. I would expect to see a more robust international response against piracy in that area to be one element of a deterrent and defense strategy that will put the pirates out of business the way they've been put out of business in other areas of the world, such as the South Asia Sea. LONG: Putting them out of business, but there's a great motivation for them to continue with their business.

KIMMITT: Well, there's always motivations for crime, but that doesn't justify criminality.

LONG: Well said, General Mark Kimmitt, a former assistant secretary of state under the Bush administration. Thanks so much for your terrific perspective again and for coming in to our Washington, D.C., bureau on a holiday weekend. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

KIMMITT: Glad to be here.

LONG: Coming up on 10 minutes before the hour, the breaking news story today, again, that important development that Captain Richard Phillips, or Richie, as he is known to family and friends, is a free man. That is the first photograph we have from the U.S. Navy of a very happy Captain Phillips.

Again, he has had a routine medical exam. He is uninjured. He has had the opportunity to speak with his loved ones back home in Underhill, Vermont. This is the big story we're following for you on this Sunday afternoon.


LONG: The big story today, American cargo ship Captain Richard Phillips is a free man. He has had the opportunity to get a routine medical exam, had the opportunity to speak to his loved ones back home in Vermont. And that is the first picture we have of Captain Phillips, all smiles, again, a free man after being held captive by Somali pirates on the high seas of the Indian Ocean. Stephanie Elam has been in his hometown of Underhill, Vermont, for the last couple days.

And I know, Stephanie, you just attended a news conference, what did you learn?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I learned that he was -- what has come out from this point right now is that they confirmed over here on this side that the Phillips have spoken to each other, that they're very happy, that they're not going to make a statement today, the family will not be doing that, but they thanked everyone here in the United States and around the world for their prayers.

Because they said on this Easter Sunday, obviously, they were answered because everything has come true and Captain Phillips is safe.

It was a very brief statement, and for a moment it actually seemed like the spokesperson who was actually from the shipping company, she seemed to get a little emotional while she was reading the statement from Andrea Phillips and the family here in Underhill, Vermont.

LONG: So, again, it's his wife, Andrea, and he has two college- aged children who are at home this weekend.

ELAM: Right. That is true. And actually right before the spokesperson came out, a car pulled up with two, looked like college- aged people getting out of the car, and they literally squealed as they got of the car and ran into the house. So the elation visible here as we see people come to the house to congratulate the Phillips family on the good news.

LONG: We're looking at the picture right now of Captain Richard Phillips. We've seen a lot of pictures the last couple of days, Stephanie, of trees wrapped with yellow ribbons in his hometown.

ELAM: And it seemed like overnight those ribbons would just grow and become more abundant, there are yellow flowers, there are yellow ribbons everywhere. And everyone is talking about it. Inside stores they're handing out yellow ribbons so people could adorn their mailboxes and lamp posts at their home just to say, you know, bring our hero home.

And that's the other thing that I've noticed with everyone I have spoken to, Melissa, they've been consistent on the fact that they believed that Captain Phillips would, indeed, come home. They were continually optimistic about the situation and that has been evident every day we've been here.

We've been here since Wednesday morning at this point. So that tone never left, even as it dragged on longer than I'm sure many people wish it did.

ELAM: Stephanie, don't hang up, we want to share with our viewers right now the news conference -- a tape of a brief news conference you just mentioned.

Here it is.


ALISON MCCOLL, SPOKESWOMAN, MAERSK LINE LIMITED: Everybody, I'm Alison. I'm with Maersk. I'm up here to support the family.

QUESTION: Can you spell your name.

MCCOLL: Alison, A-L-I-S-O-N, my last name is McCall, big M, little C, big C, little O, little L.

Andrea asked me to come out and say a few words to you. So, I'm going to read from the clipboard. She says: "The Phillips family wants to thank you all for your support and prayers. They have felt the caring and concern extended by the nation to their family. This is truly a very Happy Easter for the Phillips family."

Andrea and Richard have spoken, I think you can all imagine their joy and what a happy moment that was for them. They're just all so happy and relieved.

Andrea wanted me to tell the nation that all of your prayers and good wishes have paid off because Captain Phillips is safe. The family will not be making a statement today. All info will be directed from MLL headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Number for media inquiries, that's 757-51 (INAUDIBLE) -7873. I won't be taking any questions at this time. Thank you for understanding and have a happy Easter.


LONG: A brief statement from a spokesperson from the family, from Captain Phillips' family. Stephanie Elam, again, still on the line for us.

You mentioned you have been in the captain's hometown now for I guess about five days now, their prayers being answered on this Easter Sunday. We've learned a lot about the captain over the last few days, really described as a family man. And we've also heard so many people say that when he is at sea, his shipmates, his crew members are his family.

ELAM: It is really true, Melissa. And I was struck by the fact that everyone I speak to has been consistent on this point. That he always came across as a very dedicated family man, out riding the lawnmower in front of the house, coming by the general store at the end of their street.

So here people are very moved by the fact that their -- this man from their hometown was caught up in this situation. Sure, he was gone for weeks at a time, but when he was here, he was so dedicated to his family.

People who have known him as far as his life as sea also saying the same thing, that they knew that he was very dedicated to his crew and not surprised that he took the extreme...

LONG: Stephanie, hate to cut you off, but I do need to. Live now to the Buzzards Bay, the Maritime Academy. This is the news conference we were expecting.

GURNON: ... institution has been in operation for 118 years and I cannot imagine that there is a day in our history that we're more proud of our graduates than today.

We are truly, truly pleased that this drama has ended with the safe return of Captain Phillips. In my mind, his actions showed unbelievable courage and professionalism. He was the good shepherd. He willingly exchanged his life for the lives of his flock, his crew.

In doing that, he was able to stack the cards in his favor and it ultimately resulted in his safe return. We are truly thankful that it has turned out this way. I wish that it wasn't quite such a dramatic ending, but I'm glad that he has been returned safely.

For all of this, we've got to remember that while this is a great day for Massachusetts Maritime Academy, for all of our alumni and certainly for all mariners around the world, we still have more than 200 men and women held hostage in Somalia.

We should not let the spotlights, the TV cameras, the focus of the world be removed from that problem. The pirates have a great business model that works for them, seize ships, get ransom, and make millions.

As an international community, we have got to stop that. It will certainly take hard work and money and focus, but we've got to stop it or we begin to risk lives in areas of the world that are vital for all of our national security. It's not that hard, we can do it. We've just got to stay focused.

Don't forget the other 200 mariners and all of their families who are anxiously awaiting their return this very day. And I'm happy to take questions.

CANDIOTTI: What kind, if any, celebration might you plan for Richard Phillips and members of the crew?

GURNON: Well, we're already planning that, Susan. We were planning it on Wednesday when we heard they were taken because we knew it was going to end positively. National Maritime Day is coming up in May and we hope that they're going to be able to be here to help us celebrate that.