The crew of the Maersk Alabama, the U.S.-flagged cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates last week, arrived in the United States early Thursday.
Crew members touched down at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland just before 1 a.m. ET in a chartered Airbus A319. With broad smiles across their faces and some pumping their fists in the air, the men walked down the steps to the tarmac and were engulfed by family and friends. Husbands and wives walked hand in hand, while children tagged along, grinning and waving miniature American flags. Ahead of their arrival, family members had anxiously milled around in a waiting area at Andrews. A sign stretched across a fence at the base said, “Welcome Home Maersk Alabama.” Watch crew arrive in U.S. » Families were later whisked off to a hotel to continue their reunions, completing a day-long journey that began in Africa. As the crew arrived on U.S. soil, Capt. Richard Phillips, who offered himself as a hostage after the pirates stormed the ship last Wednesday, continued to sail aboard the USS Bainbridge. The ship had nearly reached Mombasa, Kenya. Phillips had been held on a lifeboat until U.S. Navy snipers on the Bainbridge fatally shot three pirates, rescued the captain and arrested a fourth pirate on Sunday.
The captain was supposed to reunite with his crew in Mombasa, but the Bainbridge was diverted after pirates tried to attack another cargo ship, the U.S.-flagged Liberty Sun, on Tuesday. The attack was unsuccessful, and the pirates never made it onto the ship. The Liberty Sun, which was escorted by the Bainbridge, arrived in Mombasa early Thursday.