The US House passed a resolution today praising the Vermont captain of the hijacked ship and the Navy SEALs who rescued him.
Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama returned home Friday after a high-seas drama that ended when SEAL snipers killed three Somali pirates holding him captive and captured a fourth, who faces life in prison if convicted of piracy.
The resolution was introduced by Representative Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat, who said in a statement: "Captain Phillips acted bravely and selflessly in the face of extraordinary danger, putting his own life at risk to protect his crew members. Like all Vermonters, I am tremendously relieved that Captain Phillips has returned home safely to his family in Underhill. “We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the United States Navy for its quick, effective and heroic rescue of Captain Phillips.”
Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, also offered tribute to "Captain Phillips’ brave leadership in the defense of his crew and ship, along with the outstanding service of the men and women in the US Navy."
In his floor speech, Skelton also called for stronger action against pirates, who have been raiding dozens of ships off the Somali coast.
“I have long warned of the dangers associated with international piracy. Just last month, I called for and chaired a full Armed Services Committee hearing on international piracy on the high seas. The inherent danger in allowing these types of criminal activities to go unchecked is evident throughout our history," he said.
“The pirates off the coast of Somalia are no different; however, like the pirates of the past, they will only retreat as far as they are pushed. Establishing a working government in Somalia is the best solution, but this is the long term solution. In the short term, it is imperative that the international coalition, already operating in the area, uses its superior force to continue to pursue these pirates into the safe havens where they are operating. This will be the only way to convince these criminals that the risks now outweigh the rewards."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.