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Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 15:28 UK

Freed US captain arrives in Kenya

USS Bainbridge arriving in Mombasa, Kenya, on 16/4/09
The USS Bainbridge arrived in Mombasa a day later than planned

The US sea captain held hostage by Somali pirates for five days has arrived in the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

Capt Richard Phillips arrived on board the destroyer USS Bainbridge, which had led the operation to rescue him.

His crew of 19 earlier landed back in the US, and were greeted by friends and family off their flight from Kenya.

They said Capt Phillips had agreed to become a hostage so that his men could go free after pirates seized the Maersk Alabama on 8 April.

The crew sailed the ship to Mombasa, Kenya, after the pirates and Capt Phillips left the vessel.

Capt Phillips was rescued by a US navy vessel after being held by the pirates for five days on a lifeboat.

The crew had hoped to be reunited with Capt Phillips on Wednesday, but the USS Bainbridge was diverted to help another US cargo ship under attack from pirates.

That ship, the Liberty Sun, arrived in Mombasa earlier on Thursday.

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The crew of the Maersk Alabama were flown to the US from Kenya

Anti-piracy plan

The USS Bainbridge docked in Mombasa to the strains of "Sweet Home Alabama", the Associated Press news agency reports.

A spokesman for the shipping line told AP news agency that Capt Phillips planned to spend the night on board. A charter plane is on standby ready to fly him home, but it is not clear when he will leave.

Earlier, the crew were greeted with cheers as they stepped off their chartered flight at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.

A large banner read: "Welcome Home Maersk Alabama".

Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia have intensified attacks on shipping in recent weeks in one of the world's busiest sea lanes, despite patrols by the US and other navies.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan on Wednesday to tackle piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off Somalia.

She said an expanded international effort was needed, as well as freezing pirates' assets, and plugging gaps in the shipping industry's own defences.

Improving the situation in Somalia itself was also key, she said.



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