Senate Passes Resolution Praising Piracy Hero Captain Richard Phillips Of Vermont And His U.S. Rescuers

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, April 22) – The Senate late Wednesday saluted Captain Richard Phillips and his rescuers by passing a bipartisan Senate resolution authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and cosponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).  The Senate resolution puts the U.S. Senate on record in hailing the heroism and selflessness of Captain Phillips and the bravery of his U.S. Armed Forces rescuers. 

The resolution recounts the harrowing ordeal that Captain Phillips and the crew of the Maersk Alabama faced when four Somali pirates, armed with grappling hooks and machine guns, boarded the ship on Wednesday morning, April 9th.  The resolution also cites the struggle to regain control of the ship and the captain’s selflessness in agreeing to offer himself as a hostage, joining the pirates in the ship’s 18-foot lifeboat, and the skilled and patient military response that led ultimately to Captain Phillips’ rescue by U.S. Navy SEAL teams.

The House Wednesday approved a similar resolution, sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Captain Phillips, his wife Andrea, and their children, Daniel and Mariah, are residents of Underhill, Vt., with strong New England roots.  Richard Phillips was born in Winchester, Mass., graduating in 1979 from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. 

Leahy said, “Captain Phillips, his family and the U.S. military team involved in his rescue showed tremendous bravery and heroism throughout this terrible ordeal.”  Leahy chairs the State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and is a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  “Captain Phillips showed a selfless concern for the safety of his crew and the firm determination to return to his family.  All Vermonters and the entire nation is so pleased that everyone has returned home.”

Gregg said, “Under siege and held hostage where his life was repeatedly threatened, New England-native Captain Richard Phillips demonstrated extraordinary leadership and bravery when he offered himself in exchange for his crew’s safety and freedom.  I am pleased to join with my colleagues in honoring Captain Phillips along with members of the United States Armed Forces for their heroic efforts in rescuing the Maersk Alabama’s captain.  The threat of piracy and violence persists, and the attack on the Maersk Alabama provides a stark reminder to our nation, and the international community, that we must bolster our efforts in the region in order to deter and respond to future attacks in the waters off the Horn of Africa.”   Gregg is the ranking member of the State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

Sanders said, “The people of Vermont are proud of the extraordinary courage of Captain Phillips, the dignity of his family under great stress and the outstanding performance of the U.S. Navy and other governmental personnel in rescuing Richard and dispatching those who apprehended him.”

Kennedy said, “I am thrilled that Captain Phillips has returned home to his family safely and praise him for his extraordinary bravery throughout this terrible ordeal.  I commend the Navy SEALS for their courage and skill in this dangerous situation.  I also congratulate the crew of the ship and their families for their role as true American heroes.  I look forward to working with the Navy and the entire Congress in putting mechanisms into place that reduce the threats of piracy in the future."

Feingold said, “I am honored to help recognize the incredible work of our Armed Forces and other U.S. government agencies to rescue Captain Phillips, whose bravery throughout the ordeal was an inspiration.  Unfortunately, if we do not address the crisis in Somalia, we may see more situations like the one Captain Phillips and his crew went through.  Piracy off the coast of Somalia is a result of that country’s collapse and the resulting lawlessness there, which also presents a safe haven for terrorists.  The Obama administration must produce a comprehensive strategy to help stabilize Somalia or risk allowing piracy and growing extremism to pose a greater threat to the region and our own national security.”

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