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

People & Company News

SUNY Maritime College Names ABS Chairs

The State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College has selected Dr. Richard Burke and Dr. Christopher Clott as its inaugural ABS chairs following a comprehensive

Austal Starts Next US Littoral Combat Ship

Austal and the U.S. Navy held a keel-laying ceremony today for the future USS Manchester (LCS 14), marking the first significant milestone in its construction.

Conference to Delve into Hybrid Power & Propulsion

The first international Hybrid Marine Power & Propulsion Conference will be held at the RNLI Lifeboat College, Poole UK from October 6-8, 2015.   Shock Mitigation

Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth Powers to Life

U.K. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has produced power from her onboard diesel generators (DGs) for the first time, marking a significant stage in the program.

Austal Starts Next US Littoral Combat Ship

Austal and the U.S. Navy held a keel-laying ceremony today for the future USS Manchester (LCS 14), marking the first significant milestone in its construction.

Australian Navy Awards In-service Support Contract

The Australian Government informs it has awarded a $60.6 million in-service support contract for maintenance of the Bay-Class Landing Ship Dock, HMAS Choules, over the next two years.

People in the News

Maritime, Migration Heads Pledge Joint Action

The heads of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday, June 29 reaffirmed their commitment

Chinese Prime Minister to Visit CMA CGM

The CMA CGM Group is will host the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in its Marseilles headquarters on July 1.   Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is scheduled

Baltic Exchange Eyes Move into Commodities

Baltex reaches breakeven level since start of 2015; Baltic previously faced broker opposition over platform. London's Baltic Exchange is studying a potential

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | 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: 0.1735 sec (6 req/sec)