'This Week' Transcript: Pirate Standoff

SCIUTTO: Well, frankly there's not a lot that the U.S. can do. Those three U.S. warships are hovering around the lifeboat, keeping it within site and also preventing other pirate motherships from getting close to the lifeboat, presumably to take the captain and their captors away.

But they can't physically block the ship from going ashore so this is becoming, George, really a race against time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And is there any thought being given at all to actually storming the lifeboat? We've seen the French have done that twice in recent days with French boats.

SCIUTTO: I think the situation has become so tense that they know that the risk of that kind of operation has always been high. Yesterday when a U.S. Navy launch came just close to the lifeboat, the pirates responded by firing warning shots. I think that was a sign really of the danger you're in.

Also on Friday you saw a sense of that when French special forces raided a French ship that had been kept by hijackers and one of the hostages was killed in that operation. That is the outcome certainly that the U.S. Navy wants to avoid.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it's watching and waiting for now. Jim Sciutto. Thanks.

And for more on this we are now joined by one of the top U.S. officials in the anti-piracy effort. Admiral Thad Allen, the command of the U.S. Coast Guard. Welcome back to THIS WEEK.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's stick with the situation on the ground -- or at sea right now off the coast of Somalia and Kenya. Is there anything else U.S. officials can do besides waiting and hoping that negotiations bear fruit?

ALLEN: Well, George, the way the command and control structure is set up, General Petraeus's Fifth Fleet is actually running the operations. He is what is called the supported commander. General Ward of the Africa Command is a supporting commander, as is the rest of government.

And there really is a whole of government approach going on right now. Everybody is working the problem. But the tactical operations, obviously, are being directed by Fifth Fleet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you believe that they are -- knowing what you know about tactical operations, they are actually following the best practices at this point?

ALLEN: They are. And again, that's General Petraeus's issue there. We're very close the Maersk Corporation. I talked to the CEO, John Reinhart, this morning. Of course, you know, our big concern is for the safety of the master.

And we really feel for his family and we are trying to stay in close contact with him and work through what we would call the interagency to make sure this is a whole government approach.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we do know that he is safe?

ALLEN: They have indications in the last 24 hours, yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So taking the broader problem of piracy in the last three months in that part of the world, we've seen 50 ships, this is the first time a United States ship has been overtaken by pirates. How much worse is the problem getting and what kind of a national security threat does it pose?

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