Crew Fights Off Pirates

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin offers assistance to US seafarers union after latest pirate attack off Somali Coast.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin
 immediately wrote to David Heindel secretary-treasurer of the Seafarers International Union offering support.

"Could you please relay to those crew members if possible and the officers staff and members of the SIU the full support and solidarity of the Maritime Union of Australia. 

I am contacting the relevant ministers of the Australian Government to make them aware of the situation," he wrote. "Please be assured that the crew and all the SIU and US maritime unions and your members are in our thoughts at this difficult time."

The US has built up its Navy presence in the area, escorting the ship into port with its load of food aid and medical supplies for drought-hit East Africa.

The pirate attack was foiled when the 20- American crew fought the armed men off with a fire hose. But the pirates returned.

Captain Phillips reportedly volunteered to get in the lifeboat to act as a hostage for the sake of the Alabama's 20 American crew members, who somehow retook control of their ship.

He is one of about 270 hostages being held at the moment by Somali pirates, who are also holding 18 captured vessels.

The USS Bainbridge has called on the FBI and other US officials to help negotiate the captain's release.