Our sister paper, the Village Voice, has gotten its hands on an e-mail describing just what went on as the crew of the Maersk Alabama went toe-to-toe with pirates off the African coast.
It turns out the cook wasn't an ex-Navy SEAL (Under Siege reference!). Instead, the crew took matters into their own hands, turned out the lights so the pirates wouldn't venture into the depths of the ship, and took a few out when they did.
The crewmember tells friends that by the time the pirates had commandeered the bridge, the chief engineer and two other crewmen had taken control of the engine and steering rooms.
The pirates initially captured the captain and three crewmembers on the unsecured bridge. But the rest of the crew was able to flee to the relative safety of the lower parts of the vessel. "We kept swinging the rudder side to side," the crewman says. "The pirates' boat capsized ... after about 20 minutes, the engine was killed, I don't know by whom. At that point I shut off the air bottles and Mike [the chief engineer] killed power. He was also able to get outside and trip the fuel shutoff for the EDG [emergency generator]."
Once the power was out, the interior of the ship was pitch black. "The pirates were very reluctant to go into the dark," the crewman says.
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