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The American destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, has reached vicinity where Somali pirates are holding hostage the captain of an American cargo ship, according to CNN.
U.S. officials said the situation is so tense and delicate that they could not reveal what action the U.S. Navy is going to take to try to free the merchant ship's captain. The two ships are about 300 miles off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean.
It was shortly before dawn African time (about 10 p.m. ET) when the U.S. warship arrived near the Maersk Alabama, the U.S. merchant ship that was hijacked early Wednesday by armed pirates. It was the first time in 200 years that an American ship had been hijacked on the high seas by pirates.
The 20 American crewmen fought back against the pirates and regained control of their ship, but the pirates captured the ship's captain, Richard Phillips. The pirates and the hostage captain are in a 28-foot lifeboat in the water near the Alabama.
The U.S. warship that has arrived to assist is heavily armed with assault helicopters, torpedoes and missiles, but it is not clear what action it will take to try to free Captain Phillips from the four pirates, who are armed with Kalishnikov assault rifles. One option is to attempt to negotiate with the pirates.
U.S. President Barack Obama is closely following the dramatic situation and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is following every development. She urged the international community to work to end the "scourge" of piracy in the waters off Somalia.
— Updated by Andrew Meldrum/GlobalPost
US crew members have recaptured their ship but the captain is still being held hostage by the attackers.
The pirates' boat is floating near the Maersk Alabama, its owners told the Associated Press. Officials are waiting for sunrise to see what happens.
The ship was taken about 500km (311 miles) off Somalia's coast.
Other US vessels are speeding towards the scene.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the government was following the situation very closely and urged the world to act to end the "scourge" of piracy.