Pirate Attack Survivors Make Their Way Home Amid Hugs, Cheers

Celebrations raged in two countries overnight with the captain and crew safe.

April 13, 2009, 3:15 AM

April 16, 2009 — -- From the blaring of "Sweet Home Alabama" on the decks of the USS Bainbridge in Mombasa, Kenya, to the tearful reunion of the crew members and their families in Maryland, the captain and crew who fought off pirates in a hostage standoff last week have gotten closer to the place they've all wanted to be -- home.

While Capt. Richard Phillips, still onboard the Bainbridge this morning, has yet to set foot on American soil since he was rescued from the clutches of four barefoot Somali pirates, his crew landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland this morning and were immediately embraced by their tearful families.

"It was emotional seeing my little boy," Ken Quinn told "Good Morning America" after he was welcomed by wife Zoya and his children. "He loves me so much and misses me so much, it was just -- you know how it is -- good to see him."

His 3-year-old son doesn't yet know what a pirate is, but he will -- when he's old enough.

"I'll tell him the story from start to finish," Quinn said.

The crew arrived shortly after midnight to cheers, hugs and smiles. They waved as they left the plane and onlookers waved American flags.

It has been an odyssey for the entire group that has taken them halfway around the world and back again.

"I felt like I was a worker doing my job and now it doesn't make sense," Quinn said. "It's good and everything. If you're a movie star you expect that stuff every day but just Joe Blow on the street it doesn't happen to us."

While third mate Colin Wright told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he didn't want the experience to keep him from sailing the world's oceans, Quinn isn't so sure -- at least not without some protection.

"We'd have ... some kind of Plexiglas thing," Quinn said. "It would be a good idea to be armed."

But he recognizes that even that kind of protection could up the ante for the pirates, who have so far have not been interested in killing their hostages.

"We start shooting at them and they might start killing more seaman," he said.

Capt. Richard Phillips Delayed

Phillips' homecoming was delayed after the USS Bainbridge had to divert from its path to Kenya to aid another U.S. ship, the Liberty Sun, which was able to fend off a pirate attack earlier this week.

Journalists crowded around the port in Mombasa, anxiously looking for any sign of the captain. Also gathered were many Kenyans, who seemed more amused by the ship's grand entrance than who was on it.

"They never come in with all this loud music," port worker Francis Oyunde said. "This ship must be very special."

Phillips never emerged publicly, even from a distance. Investigators boarded the Bainbridge after it docked and there were reports that he then secretly disembarked and was whisked away. Maersk has confirmed that Phillips will be taking a charter flight from Mombasa back to the United States and reuniting with his crew.

Wright and Shane Murphy, the Maersk Alabama's second-in-command, told "Good Morning America" in Wednesday's exclusive interview that they had no regrets about the deaths of three of the pirates who ultimately shot by Navy snipers, saying the men got greedy when they decided to take Phillips, the ship's captain.

Two crew members said the Somali pirates were given many chances to leave. But, instead, in a moment that was not planned or calculated by any of the Americans onboard, the four Somali pirates took Capt. Phillips instead.

"I gave these guys 100 chances to take what they want and go," said Murphy. "People ask, 'Did they get what they deserve?' Human life is human life, but these people had so many opportunities."

"But they got greedy ... at the last second, they changed on us," he said of the pirates, three of whom, seen in pictures provided exclusively to "Good Morning America," were shot to death by Navy snipers.

Murphy and Wright told "GMA" that when the crew managed to capture one of the pirates during some early confusion, they planned on being able to offer him as incentive for the other pirates to leave the ship.

The pirates, who took food and fuel that the crew had diluted, seemed to be agreeable to the plan, the men said. But at the moment the exchange was supposed to take place, disaster struck -- Phillips was still on the lifeboat. And the crew, thinking of their families and children, had no idea what was to come next.

"They meant business, very scary," Wright said. "I was told that the color went from my face, and I'm sure it did."

Maersk Alabama Pirate Attack and Captain Rescue

Despite what has been reported in the media, it was not Phillips' plan to go willingly with the pirates, who had him trapped on the lifeboat. When the crew offered to give the captured pirate back in exchange for the pirates leaving, Phillips went down to the lifeboat to show them how to work it. But the pirates decided he wasn't going back.

Murphy, of Seekonk, Mass., took command of the ship when the pirates seized Phillips.

"That was something that didn't go as planned," Murphy said. "You have to realize, this was after a 13-hour ordeal. There was physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion."

For the next four days, the crew waited along with the rest of the world.

"It was terrible," said Wright, of Galveston, Texas. "We wanted our captain back and didn't feel right until we had our captain, until we found out he was safe aboard the Navy vessel."

After a five-day standoff, Navy snipers took advantage of the pirates' momentary carelessness and shot all three dead simultaneously. A fourth had left the boat before the shooting.

Phillips has refused the title of hero and said his Navy rescuers are "the real heroes."

The Maersk Alabama was in Somali waters because it was carrying food aid to hungry people in Africa, including Somalia.

As Americans celebrated, however, pirates along Somalia's coast simmered with anger and vowed revenge.

"From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them [the hostages]," Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old pirate, told The Associated Press from one of Somalia's piracy hubs, Eyl. "[U.S. forces have] become our No. 1 enemy."

One pirate said the killing of fellow pirates by the U.S. Navy would not deter them at all, but would motivate them to target U.S. ships.

"We will seek out Americans and, if we capture them, we will slaughter them," the 25-year-old pirate based in the Somali port of Harardhere said. "Last night, an American-flagged ship escaped us by a whisker. We have showered them with rocket-propelled grenades."

Crew members of the Maersk Alabama have said that they are grateful for their safe return and that of their captain, but stressed that there needs to be more security on the high seas.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States can't end Somali piracy by itself and noted that 16 nations have warships in the region, which is roughly four times the size of Texas.

When Mullen was asked on Monday's "Good Morning America" whether the United States had considered attacking the pirate strongholds in Somalia, he said, "I've asked and we've been doing this. We've initiated a review on the joint staff to look broadly and widely and deeply at the overall strategy."

One problem in taking on pirates is what to do with them once they are arrested, Mullen said. There is a deal with Kenya to try pirates in court there but, so far, no pirates have been put on trial.

Navy Seal Says Pirate Problem Difficult

Kaj Larsen, a former Navy Seal who has made documentaries on pirates in Indonesia and arms sales in Mogadishu, Somalia, told ABC News the problem of piracy will not be easily solved.

"I don't think, in this particular case, unfortunately, you're going to see a deterrent effect," he said. "The sums that these pirates are making are just extraordinary. So the incentive is too great even if they lose a few of their foot soldiers in the process."

ABC News' Martha Raddatz, John Hendren, Jake Tapper, Jason Ryan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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