The cargo ship, carrying food aid destined for Somalia and Uganda, was seized about 500km (311 miles) off Somalia's coast in the early hours of Wednesday.
After a long struggle, the crew members regained control of the ship.
It is thought that Capt Phillips offered himself as a hostage in order to save his crew.
Zoya Quinn, wife of the ship's second officer, told the Associated Press that Capt Phillips had told the crew to lock themselves in a room and that the pirates, who were "desperate", searched all over the ship for them.
The crew held a wounded pirate for about 12 hours, dressing his wounds "because he was bleeding all over the ship", she said, after communication with her husband Ken by phone and e-mail.
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991, fuelling the lawlessness which has allowed the pirates to thrive.
Pirates typically hold the ships and crews until large ransoms are paid by the shipping companies - last year the firms handed over about $80m (£54m).
After a lull earlier this year, the Maersk Alabama was the sixth ship hijacked off Somalia in the past week.
The UN's Somalia envoy, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, told Reuters that piracy was threatening to destabilise the region.
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