Friday, May 22, 2009

Mariner of the Year 2009 for hijacked skipper

Captain who spared his crew accepts MMA Award
Shipping News Feature

USA - The captain of the U.S. cargo ship Maersk Alabama, who surrendered himself to Somali pirates to spare his crew, has been recognized as the 2009 Mariner of the Year by his alma mater.

Capt. Richard Phillips of Underhill, received the MMA award on Wednesday 20th May, at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he graduated from in 1979.

America's newest hero was reluctant to accept praise, but said of his ordeal: “We have to have some arms on the ships,” he said. “We need secure areas. We need more than just non-lethal tactics training.”

Phillips offered himself as a hostage when the Alabama was besieged by Somali pirates. He was subseqquently held for five days aboard one of his own ship's lifeboats. U.S. Navy freed the captive when snipers shot and killed three of his teenage captors.