Captain of U.S. cargo ship taken by pirates is from Vermont

04/08/09 6:25PM By Ross Sneyd
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(Host) The U.S. cargo ship captain who was taken hostage by pirates off the Somali coast today is from Underhill.

His sister-in-law says he's well aware of the possibility of pirates on the high seas.

But she says that's never stopped Richard Phillips from returning to the career he loves.

VPR's Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) Phillips has been in merchant shipping for more than 30 years.

Leah Coggio is his sister-in-law. She says Phillips has always been interested in the sea and went to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in the mid-‘70s.

Coggio says Phillips persuaded two of her brothers to go into merchant shipping.

(Coggio) "They were both in between jobs, got laid off from various jobs. He just said, `Hey, get your papers. Come on out.'''

(Sneyd) Coggio says Phillips is an earnest professional when he's onboard the ships he commands and he's taken courses on preventing piracy. But she says the danger has never kept him away from his love for the sea and merchant shipping.

(Coggio) "No, I don't think he's thought about giving up his line of work. I don't know now, we haven't talked to him. But to date, it's what he likes to do. It's a big part of his life.''

(Sneyd) Coggio says the family's biggest hope right now is to hear directly from Captain Phillips.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.


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