Crew of hijacked U.S. ship makes jubilant return (Video)

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The crew of the American merchant ship hijacked by pirates off Somalia last week arrived back in the United States early Thursday.

Crew members of the Maersk Alabama touched down at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland just before 1 a.m. in a chartered Airbus A319, CNN reported. They were greeted by several dozen family members who crowded onto the wet tarmac near the arriving plane, cheering and waving American flags.

Capt. Richard Phillips, who was freed by American special forces in a heroic rescue mission was not with the returning crew. He remained on board the USS Bainbridge. The ship was diverted to come to the aid of another U.S. cargo ship, the Liberty Sun, which had come under attack. The hijack attempt failed.

According to Maersk officials, Phillips is expected to return to the United States in the coming days.

VIDEO: Maersk Alabama crew returns to U.S. soil