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Frank Castellano

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Title: Frank Castellano  
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Subject: Bellport, New York, Meritorious Service Medal (United States), List of Knights of Columbus, MV Maersk Alabama, Maersk Alabama hijacking, Richard Phillips (merchant mariner)
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Frank Castellano

Frank Castellano
Commander Frank Castellano
Birth name Francis Xavier Castellano
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1990-
Rank Captain
Commands held USS Chinook
USS Bainbridge (June 2008-April 2010)
Battles/wars Action of 12 April 2009
Awards Meritorious Service Medal (two awards),
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards),
various campaign and service ribbons

Francis Xavier "Frank" Castellano is an officer of the United States Navy, as of October 2013 holding the rank of Captain, assigned to the Joint Forces Staff College and incoming commanding officer of the USS Vella Gulf.[1] Castellano is best known as the commander of the guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge during the hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama.


Castellano graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1990, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in History. He has attended the Naval Postgraduate School, earning a Master Of Science Degree in Systems Technology (Joint Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence), and the United States Naval War College, earning Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.

His sea duty assignments include OI Division Officer, Auxiliaries Officer, and Communications Officer of USS Anzio; Operations Officer of USS Cole; Commanding Officer of USS Chinook; as Executive Officer of USS Donald Cook and as Commanding Officer of the USS Bainbridge from June 2008 until April 2010.[1][2] . Ashore, he served as an Associate Fellow to the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group XVI and as a Surface Warfare Lieutenant Commander - Commander Assignments Officer, Navy Personnel Command (PERS 41). He has been assigned to the Joint Forces Staff College since April 2010.[1]

Rescue of pirate hostage

Commander Castellano was the commanding officer of the Bainbridge during the April 12, 2009, rescue of Captain Phillips from pirates off the coast of Somalia. On Sunday, April 12, 2009, Capt. Richard Phillips was rescued, reportedly in good condition, from his pirate captors.[3][4]

According to Kirk Lippold, former Commander of the USS Cole (DDG-67) and superior officer to Castellano at that time, in a statement about Castellano in the hours prior to the rescue, "He -- Frank is absolutely rock solid. He is a very, very mature and experienced commanding officer. He's had command previously of one of our Navy's patrol craft. So with him being on Bainbridge, I have absolute confidence that he's in the right place at the right time for a reason and that he'll do a great job there."[5][6]

Commander Castellano stated that as the winds picked up, tensions rose among the pirates and "we calmed them" and persuaded the pirates to be towed by the Bainbridge.[7] Vice Admiral William E. Gortney reported the rescue began when Commander Frank Castellano determined that Phillips' life was in imminent danger and ordered the action. President Barack Obama had previously given Castellano standing orders to take action if Castellano determined Phillips' life was in immediate danger.[8][9]

A reporter summarized Vice Admiral William Gortney's description of the final events: "Just before the shooting, Capt. Phillips was topside of the lifeboat. One pirate was behind him, pointing an AK-47 rifle at him. The head and shoulders of each of the other two pirates were also visible above deck of the enclosed lifeboat. Determining that Phillips might be shot at any moment, the commander ordered the action."[10] Castellano stated, "[We] ultimately believed the pirates were about to kill the captain. That's what was the decision point.""[11]

U.S. Navy SEAL snipers on the Bainbridge's fantail opened fire and killed the three pirates remaining in the lifeboat. The Bainbridge had the life boat under tow approximately 25 meters astern at the time. A fourth pirate was aboard Bainbridge negotiating a ransom and was taken prisoner. The U.S. Navy evacuated Capt. Richard Phillips to the Bainbridge and then flew him by helicopter to the USS Boxer for a medical evaluation, where he was later reported to be resting comfortably.[3][4]

Military awards

Meritorious Service Medal (2) Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3)


Personal life

Commander Castellano is a member of the Knights of Columbus Patchogue (N.Y.) Council 725.[12] Bellport High School, Class of 1986 (Brookhaven, New York)


External links

Biography portal
  • Official USS Bainbridge site
  • Commanding Officer Castellano at USS Bainbridge site
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