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US Navy and pirates in standoff

Hours after the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge arrived in the Indian Ocean vicinity where Somali pirates are holding hostage the captain of an American merchant ship captain, there was no dramatic change in the tense standoff, according to Reuters.

The U.S.-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, was reported to have moved further away from the 28-foot lifeboat in which four Somali pirates hold captive the ship's American captain, Richard Phillips. The 17,000 ton merchant ship, owned by a Danish fleet but flying under an American flag with an American crew of 20, was moving towards safer waters.

But there was no new information about Captain Phillips and his pirate captors or the tactics of the USS Bainbridge. Earlier a U.S. military source had warned there would be no news bulletins because of the extreme delicacy of the situation. The U.S. warship is heavily armed with missiles and torpedoes and assault helicopters, but it is not obvious how it will disarm the four pirates armed with Kalashnikov AK-47 automatic rifles who are holding Captain Phillips. One option is to try to negotiate with the Somali pirates.

It is now well after dawn along the African coastline and other international military ships have also moved close to the pirates in the lifeboat they took from the Maersk Alabama after their rubber dinghies were swamped. The U.S. crew on Wednesday fought off the pirates and regained control of their ship, but the pirates seized Captain Phillips and left the ship in one of its lifeboats.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were closely following the situation, which is reported to be the first time a U.S. ship has been seized by pirates in 200 years. — updated by Andrew Meldrum/GlobalPost