USS Bainbridge Captain Tells His Sea Story

Press Release
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Castellano & Phillips: Photo credit USN

Navy Capt. Frank Castellano shares his 'Alabama Maersk' rescue experience with Naval Postgraduate School students and faculty.

Capt. Frank Castellano,a renowned Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) alumnus and former 'USS Bainbridge' (DDG-96) commander addressed students and faculty at NPS' King Auditorium recently.

USS Bainbridge first caught the public's attention after it led the dramatic rescue operation that freed Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in 2009. 



This is a 'sea story,' my sea story," said Castellano in beginning his recount of the dramatic events. "There are many perspectives about what happened that day, this is mine.



"My story is about teamwork ... It's a human story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things," continued Castellano.

The rescue of Phillips took place over several days off the Somali coast. It involved Sailors, special operations forces and an alphabet soup list of what Castellano referred to as, "three-named agencies."



Castellano was ordered to investigate a distress call April 8, 2009, several hundred miles off the coast of Somalia. His staff immediately began operations planning as intelligence came in and the Bainbridge closed in on the distressed vessel. 



The Bainbridge arrived after a standoff between Maersk Alabama crewmembers and Somali pirates. Maersk Alabama crewmen were able to repel the pirates, but the pirates managed to take Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips hostage and escape in one of the cargo ship's lifeboats. 

The lifeboat was a far cry from the dinghies popularized in movies like 'Titanic'. It was a covered fiberglass vessel with enough fuel, food and supplies for nine days. Rescuers had originally hoped that the vessel would simply run out of fuel, but it proved to be far more resilient than previously assumed.

"That lifeboat was the bane of my existence. It just kept going, I should buy stock in that company," said Castellano to laughter and applause from the audience.

Castellano notes that in the days that led to Phillips' rescue, he slept no more than four hours. He oversaw the establishment of a water-landing zone, coordinated rescue efforts and personally negotiated with the pirates to ensure Phillips' release.



Still, Castellano insists that the rescue was a, "total team effort."

FBI hostage negotiators, snipers, and USS Bainbridge sailors worked together with Castellano to ensure Phillips' rescue. The lifeboat was repeatedly, "waked" [deliberately hit with the wake of the Bainbridge] to prevent it from getting too close to the Somali shore. And the Bainbridge was used to conceal a water landing zone for special operations teams who parachuted in under the cover of darkness.

Snipers were able to target the pirates from the Bainbridge's fantail, killing three and ending Phillips' ordeal.

 Castellano credits his NPS education with his ability to make the tough decisions and to endure the sleepless, high-stress environment that culminated in Phillips' rescue.


 

Maritime Reporter February 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

USCG Free Boat from Ice Near Woods Hole

A Coast Guard crew responded to a fishing vessel trapped in ice in Woods Hole Passage, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Saturday. At about 3 p.m., the crew of the fishing boat Capt.

Tug Boat Owner Jailed After Crew Man Dies

A tug boat owner was today was given an 8 month custodial sentence after his crew member died trying to reattach a tow line in a violent storm. During today’s hearing at Southampton Crown Court,

COMPIT to Showcase Smarter Ships, Systems & Solutions

The 14th International Conference on Computer and IT Applications in the Maritime Industries (COMPIT) will take place from 11th to 13th May 2015 in Ulrichshusen, Germany.

Navy

Sri Lanka Says No to Docking of Chinese Submarines

Sri Lanka declared that it will not allow Chinese submarines to dock in its waters as part of a new policy barring hosting of foreign submarines.   Sri Lanka's

China's Maritime Advances Worry US

The Director of U.S. National Intelligence, James Clapper, has expressed his concern at the progress of China in maritime zones it shares with its neighbors, accused

Somali Pirates Release Long-held Hostages

Somali pirates have freed four Thai nationals seized from a fishing vessel at sea in 2010, ending the longest-running hostage drama in the Horn of Africa state, the United Nations said on Friday.

People in the News

USCG Free Boat from Ice Near Woods Hole

A Coast Guard crew responded to a fishing vessel trapped in ice in Woods Hole Passage, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Saturday. At about 3 p.m., the crew of the fishing boat Capt.

Tug Boat Owner Jailed After Crew Man Dies

A tug boat owner was today was given an 8 month custodial sentence after his crew member died trying to reattach a tow line in a violent storm. During today’s hearing at Southampton Crown Court,

COMPIT to Showcase Smarter Ships, Systems & Solutions

The 14th International Conference on Computer and IT Applications in the Maritime Industries (COMPIT) will take place from 11th to 13th May 2015 in Ulrichshusen, Germany.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2366 sec (4 req/sec)