Gen. David Petraeus, CENTCOM commander,thanks Sailors aboard USS Bainbridge for their role in the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips, who was held hostage by Somali pirates in April.
MANAMA, Bahrain (July 27, 2009) — Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, U.S. Central Command, visited the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) while in port Bahrain today to thank Sailors for their hard work while deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet as well as their role in the successful rescue of Richard Phillips, the Maersk Alabama captain held captive by Somali pirates for five days in April.
Petraeus held an all hands call with Bainbridge's Sailors and also presented awards to three Sailors who were honored for their actions during Capt. Phillips' rescue from pirates.
"The eyes of the world were upon you that Easter weekend," said Petraeus. "You played important roles and should be proud of what you did. In moments of danger and decision during the rescue of Captain Phillips, you did what you were trained to do. You remembered your skills. You did your duty. You stood your watch. And you brought Captain Phillips home alive."
Petraeus presented Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist Joel Steinbach with the Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal to both Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Mattew Olin and Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Joshua Waters for their exemplary service during the rescue.
Steinbach served as the chief negotiator and liaison between the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group/Crisis Negotiation Unit during hostage negotiation efforts between Bainbridge and the pirates holding Phillips.
"I am honored to be recognized with this award and to receive it from Gen. Petraeus," said Steinbach. "However, the credit for the rescue of Capt. Phillips belongs to all the Sailors who took part in the successful operation."
Olin and Waters are credited with leading a boat crew in the successful covert recovery of U.S. Navy SEALs, continuing to serve as Coxswain for subsequent approaches by their boats to the pirate lifeboat holding Phillips despite coming under hostile fire on the initial approach, and navigating their boats alongside the lifeboat to facilitate direct negotiations for the release and subsequent rescue of Phillips.
"I am proud that I was part of this mission and that I made a difference," said Olin. "I am proud of all the Sailors involved who not only risked their lives, but brought honor upon our ship."
Bainbridge Commanding Officer Cmdr. Frank X. Castellano said it was an honor to host Gen. Petraeus and praised his crew for their role in the rescue and counter-piracy operations.
"The success of Captain Phillips' rescue belongs not to a single commander or a team of SEALs," said Castellano. "Those few days belong to everyone involved — officers and enlisted, not on one ship, but several — who diligently stood their watch. It belongs to the many."