American crew members aboard a U.S.-flagged ship regained control of the vessel hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia Wednesday, FOX News confirms.
Defense Department officials confirmed that one pirate is in custody. A U.S. official said the status of the other pirates is unknown but they were reported to "be in the water."
"All the crew members are trained in security detail in how to deal with piracy," Maersk CEO John Reinhart told reporters. "As merchant vessels we do not carry arms. We have ways to push back, but we do not carry arms."
John Harris, CEO of HollowPoint Security Services, which specializes in maritime security, said that the 20-member crew's overtaking the pirates could help prevent future hijackings, especially since the military can't be protect the entire high seas.
"Any time you can get intel from them, they can give you any kind of significant information, they more than likely will not, but anything we can get will always help us in the future," Harris told FOX News.
"Naval vessels ... can't be everywhere at one time, just like law enforcement," he said, noting that the U.S. Navy has been protecting the most vulnerable shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean.
"If you saturate an area long enough in the shipping lanes, if you saturate it with war ships long enough, they venture out. In this case that's what they did. They want 350 miles out of the coast where no Naval vessels were present," he said.
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As for the boldness of the pirates taking a ship operating under a U.S. flag, Harris said pirates don't care which ship they grab.
"We have not seen it matters at all. This is a business to them. They are not intended on carrying what cargo we're carrying. All they want to do is see a dollar figure. They know if they catch a big ship, they get big money. All they want is ransom out of this. They are not worried about crew or cargo," Harris said.
Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman said earlier Wednesday he has "no information to suggest the 20 crew members of the Maersk Alabama have been harmed by the pirates."
During its one communication with the ship, Maersk was told the crew was safe, Reinhart said. He would not release the names of the crew members.
Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said that it was the first pirate attack "involving U.S. nationals and a U.S.-flagged vessel in recent memory."
Wednesday's incident was the first such hostage-taking involving U.S. citizens in 200 years. In December 2008, Somali pirates chased and shot at a U.S. cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel.
The top two commanders of the ship graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the Cape Cod Times reported Wednesday.
Andrea Phillips, the wife of Capt. Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vermont., said her husband has sailed in those waters "for quite some time" and a hijacking was perhaps "inevitable."
The Cape Cod Times reported his second in command, Capt. Shane Murphy, was also among the 20 Americans aboard the Maersk Alabama.
Capt. Joseph Murphy, a professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, says his son is a 2001 graduate who recently talked to a class about the dangers of pirates.
The newspaper reported the 33-year-old Murphy had phoned his mother to say he was safe.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said earlier Wednesday the White House is "closely monitoring the apparent hijacking of the U.S.-flagged ship in the Indian Ocean and assessing a course of action to resolve this situation."
"Our top priority is the personal safety of the crew members on board," Gibbs said in a written statement.
The 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency relief to Mombasa, Kenya, at the time it was hijacked, for the Copenhagen-based container shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk.
Robert A. Wood, Deputy State Department Spokesman, told reporters the ship was carrying "vegetable oil, corn soy blend and other basic food commodities bound for Africa."
Just last week, A. P. Moller-Mærsk Group sold eight containerships to Maersk Line Limited to be run under a U.S. flag. The U.S. company also recently replaced eight older units flying U.S. flags, including the Maersk Alabama.
Flying under a U.S. flag means the ships are bound by U.S. law maritime regulations and can travel directly from U.S. port to U.S. port.
Just a day earlier, the Navy's 5th fleet warned "merchant mariners should be increasingly vigilant" when operating off the coast of Somalia.
"The area the ship was taken in, is not where the focus of our ships has been," Christensen told The Associated Press in a phone call from the 5th Fleet's Mideast headquarters in Bahrain.
Maersk does business with the U.S. Department of Defense, but Christensen said the vessel was not working under a Pentagon contract when hijacked.
The vessel is the sixth to be seized within a week and the first with an all-American crew.
At least 12 of the Americans aboard the Maersk Alabama are members of the Seafarers International Union, spokesman Jordan Biscardo said.
FOX News' Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.