American sea Captain Richard Phillips was safely rescued Sunday from four Somali pirates, who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, a U.S. intelligence official said.
Three of the pirates were killed and one was in custody after what appeared to be a swift firefight off the Somali coast, the official said.
Initial reports indicate Phillips jumped overboard for a second time and the military was able to take advantage of the situation.
Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vt., was transported to the USS Bainbridge nearby. He is resting comfortably after a checkup, the Navy said.
“Andrea and Richard have spoken and you can imagine their joy and what a happy moment it was for them,” family spokeswoman Alison McColl said outside the Phillips’ house.
McColl said Andrea wanted to thank the world for their prayer and wishes for her husband’s safe return.
Asked whether the pirate arrested will now be brought to the U.S. for prosecution, the Department of Justice told FOX News, they will be “reviewing the evidence and other issues to determine whether to seek prosecution in the United States.”
Maersk Line Limited President and CEO John Reinhart said in a news release that the U.S. government informed the company around 1:30 p.m. Sunday that Phillips had been rescued. He was to hold a media briefing later Sunday.
Reinhart said the company called Phillips’ wife, Andrea, to tell her the news. He said the crew of the Maersk Alabama was “jubilant” when they received word that Phillips was safe.
They placed an American flag over the rail of the top of the Maersk Alabama and whistled and pumped their fists in the air. Crew fired a bright red flare into the sky from the ship.
The rest of the crew and the ship had made it safely to a port in Kenya.
Rear Admiral Richard Gurnon, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where Phillips graduated from, said there was no doubt in his mind Phillips would be released.
“He was the good sheppard — he exchanged his life for the life of his crew,” Gurnon said. “We are truly thankful that it has turned out this way. This is exactly the way we wanted it to end.”
A government official and others in Somali with knowledge of the situation had reported hours earlier that negotiations for Phillips’ release had broken down.
Talks began Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer.
U.S. warships and helicopters stalked the lifeboat holding Phillips and his four Somali captors Sunday, while his crew briefed FBI agents about how they fought off the pirates who boarded their ship, the Maersk Alabama.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.