Breaking news this evening: Capt Richard Phillips was rescued from the pirates holding him on one of the MAERSK ALABAMA's lifeboats.
Apparently what happened is that the lifeboat holding the pirates and Capt Phillips was taken into tow by the USS BAINBRIDGE, and with the lifeboat under tow, one of the pirates was persuaded to come over to the Bainbridge to "negotiate". Probably once onboard the destroyer, the pirate (now reported as a 16 year old boy) was likely persuaded to give some information about the pirates remaining on the lifeboat.
The precise details are still emerging, and probably many of them will not emerge, but it looks like the USS BOXER transferred several probable SEAL snipers to the Bainbridge. Meanwhile President Obama authorized the use of deadly force against the pirates, reportedly only if Captain Phillips life was immediately threatened.
Once in position on the Bainbridge, the snipers waited for clear shots on the three remaining pirates. It is not certain precisely what transpired, but the snipers simultaneously engaged all three pirates, reportedly killing each with a single head shot. Subsequently the SEALs boarded the lifeboat and found Captain Phillips unharmed.
I'm very pleasantly surprised at this bold and successful action. The pirates were apparently surprised as well, protesting that previously they had only wished to hold hostages for ransom, not to hurt anyone, but now they would attack Americans and Frenchmen on sight. It will be interesting to see what happens next.