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Maersk Alabama crew: Ready to hug our families

The American crew who thwarted Somalipirates was flying home to the U.S. on Wednesday but without itscaptain, who was still aboard a Navy destroyer after being rescuedfrom the hijackers, their shipping company said.

Maersk spokesman Gordan van Hook said the crew members of theMaersk Alabama left Mombasa on a chartered plane heading forAndrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where they were expected toland late Wednesday.

Their reunion with Capt. Richard Phillips will now will takeplace in the United States, van Hook said. Phillips had planned tofly home with his crew but he was aboard the USS Bainbridge when itwas diverted Tuesday to try to help a second U.S. cargo ship underattack by pirates. That ship, the Liberty Sun, escaped the attack.

A Kenyan airport official said a second chartered plane waswaiting at the Mombasa airport for Phillips.

Navy SEAL snipers on the Bainbridge killed three pirates Sundayto free Phillips after a five-day standoff.

Phillips' wife, Andrea, and two children are expected to reunitewith him but her mother, Catherine Coggio, said she didn't knowwhen or where. Andrea Phillips was still in Vermont as of Wednesdaymorning, she said.

"We're just so thankful that things have turned out the waythey have," Coggio told The Associated Press by phone from herhome in Richmond, Vt.

She didn't know when Phillips would return to Underhill, Vt.,where he lives.

A woman who answered the phone at Phillips' home would give nodetails of the family's plans.

Serena Murphy, the wife of chief officer Shane Murphy, jokedthat 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 positivefor him. But I think I'll make the accommodations a lot morepleasant than the pirates did," she said Wednesday on NBC's"Today" show.

Asked if she wants him to go back to sea, she said, "Ipersonally don't but I support him in whatever decision he decidesto make."

Third mate Colin Wright said the experience won't keep him offthe water, but hopes action will be taken to stop piracy.

"I hope to be able to sail all of the waters of the world insafety," he said in an interview on ABC's "Good MorningAmerica." "And we've got to do something about pirates."

Wright, from Galveston, Texas, and Murphy told ABC the firstthing they want to do is hug their families.

"I'll just love to hug my mother," Wright said. "Everybodyout there give your mother a hug. Yeah, don't wait. Life isprecious. And what a beautiful world."

The sister of second mate Ken Quinn was praying for him to getsafely back home. She told CBS' "Early Show" that Ken, who livesin Bradenton, Fla., had e-mailed her that "he's having nightmaresabout being in the dark room where they were hiding, and thepirates shooting into the dark."

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