Defense officials say Captain Richard Phillips, 55, jumped in the water during the night and tried to swim to a U.S. military ship hundreds of yards away. But the pirates were able to pull him back into the lifeboat where he is being held. They then tied him up. The Navy is blocking access to the lifeboat while other pirates are trying to intervene.
There's word that the bandits are now asking for $2 million in exchange for Captain Phillips.
The Phillips family is hunkered down and holding out hope in Underhill. The incident is highlighting an international problem many did not know existed.
"They are very dangerous people," says Mohamed Abdi, a Somali immigrant now living in Vermont.
While pirates have existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years, the problem has increased recently.
Abdi is the leader of a group of 700 Somali Bantu tribe members, who relocated to Vermont, after being chased out of their own country by violent gangs. He believes those gangs took their criminal activity to sea, after a crackdown on land by the Ethiopian military.
"Before that there was not more pirates in the ocean but what I think is that's what caused the pirates to shift from land and go to the sea," say Abdi.
Dealing with the pirates can be a tricky situation. Experts in hostage negotiation say it takes time to build a rapport with the captors. They must build trust with the hijackers and guarantee their safety.
Then there is the question of whether or not using force is a better approach.
"You know the question is do we negotiate? Because if you negotiate with one are you just rewarding bad behavior and encouraging other hostage takers to do the same," says Champlain College Professor Julian Portilla, who focuses on the topic of mediation.
That could be a major factor in this current situation.
Just last year pirates hijacked a Saudi oil tanker and netted $3 million in ransom money.
"I'd want to know who's in charge of that network, where they are, what they want and what kind of pressure you can put on them," says Portilla.
Finding those at the top of the pirate network may be an easy task for the U-S Navy and the FBI negotiators working to free Phillips.
His captors have apparently called in backup, and a fleet of pirates with more hostages are on their way.
At the same time, more Navy forces are speeding to the area.
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:10 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:10:32 GMT
Two New Hampshire communities damaged by storms are getting federal help. Lincoln will get more than $4.5 million for a bridge repair from Tropical Storm Irene. FEMA also awarded Lebanon more than $3More >>
Two New Hampshire communities damaged by storms are getting federal help.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:09:58 GMT
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County. CCTA officials told us in a statement that after 19 hours of negotiations that went into the morningMore >>
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:09:06 GMT
A Ken Burns documentary featuring Vermont students will have its premiere in Brattleboro. The film is called "The Address". It follows the 50 boys at the Greenwood School in Putney who have learningMore >>
A Ken Burns documentary featuring Vermont students will have its premiere in Brattleboro.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:03 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:03:58 GMT
New Hampshire police say a man is recovering after he accidentally shot himself. Claremont police tell us that the man was cleaning his gun Saturday night when it went off. He was taken to the hospitalMore >>
New Hampshire police say a man is recovering after he accidentally shot himself.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:59 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:59:53 GMT
This towering ice fortress is dazzling visitors to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. "Yeah, this is a wow moment," says visitor Millie Gabriel. "It's an incredible feeling to see people really light upMore >>
If you're ready to see one more beautiful thing before we say hello to spring, then we've found the spot for you.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:53:41 GMT
When the Wild Center in Tupper Lake was looking at maple education programs, they hit a bit of a snag. "I took a survey of the 31 acres here at the museum and we only had one maple tree on the property,"More >>
The Community Maple program has been going for three years now, allowing people to take the sap from their backyard and learn how to turn it into syrup.
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:44 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:44:12 GMT
We've got some tasty ideas for this second Sunday in March! PANCAKE BREAKFAST This year is the 20th annual Franklin Fire Dept. Pancake breakfast at the Franklin Central School. They serve more than 2,000More >>
We've got some tasty ideas for this second Sunday in March!More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>