MOMBASA, Kenya The American crew who thwarted Somali pirates were flying home to the U.S. on Wednesday but without their captain, who was still aboard a Navy destroyer after being rescued from the hijackers, their shipping company said.
Maersk spokesman Gordan van Hook said the crew members of the Maersk Alabama left Mombasa on a chartered plane heading for Andrews Air Force base in Maryland, where they were expected to land late Wednesday.
Their reunion with Capt. Richard Phillips will now will take place in the United States, van Hook said. Phillips had planned to fly home with his crew but he was aboard the USS Bainbridge when it was diverted Tuesday to try to help a second U.S. cargo ship under attack by pirates. That ship, the Liberty Sun, escaped the attack.
A Kenyan airport official said a second chartered plane was waiting at the Mombasa airport for Phillips.
Navy SEAL snipers on the Bainbridge killed three pirates Sunday to free Phillips after a five-day standoff.
Serena Murphy, the wife of Maersk Alabama chief officer Shane Murphy, joked that she will take him hostage when he gets home to Seekonk, Mass.
Well, I m going to give him food and water. That s a positive for him. But I think I ll make the accommodations a lot more pleasant than the pirates did, she said Wednesday on NBC s Today show.
The sister of second mate Ken Quinn was praying for him to get safely back home. She told CBS Early Show that Ken, who lives in Bradenton, Fla., had e-mailed her that he s having nightmares about being in the dark room where they were hiding, and the pirates shooting into the dark.