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

People & Company News

ZF Celebrating 100th Anniversary

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of ZF Friedrichshafen AG   Zahnradfabrik GmbH was founded in 1915, and through a 100-year history has developed

Signal Ship Repair Achieves OSHA Milestone

Signal International announced that on December 31, 2014, the Signal Ship Repair Operations located in Mobile, Alabama achieved one full year and worked 387,926 manhours,

Evergreen to Charter 11 Containerships

Evergreen Group signed time charter agreements with Shoei Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (Shoei) to charter a total of 11 18,000 TEU vessels, which include the six units of

Navy

Greek Government to Halt Piraeus Port Sale

The new Greek government led by the left-wing Syriza party will halt the sale of a majority stake in the port of Piraeus, Greece's biggest, begun by the previous government,

Australian Tall Ship Rounds Cape Horn

The Royal Australian Navy operated Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour rounded Cape Horn on Australia Day, 36 days into a 12-month circumnavigation of the world.

Oil Tankers are Front Line of Libya's Struggles

Crew members killed in tanker attack this month; West fears worsening violence could lead to civil war. Oil shippers face higher costs and the possible loss of insurance cover on Libyan voyages,

People in the News

New Iranian Ambassador Visits IMO

Mohammad Hassan Habibollahzedeh, the new Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to IMO, visited IMO Headquarters January 28.   There,

Fugitive Treasure Hunter Arrested in Florida

An Ohio man who recovered as much as $400 million in gold from a shipwreck has been arrested in Florida after two years on the run and was scheduled to appear in federal court on Wednesday.

WCI to Honor Sens. Alexander and Vitter

Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) to honor Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator David Vitter with Leadership Service Awards; Washington Meetings and Waterways Seminar

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Sonar
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: 0.2531 sec (4 req/sec)