PHILLIPS FREE, HOSTAGE STANDOFF ENDS…. After a harrowing ordeal, Richard Phillips is heading home.

The American captain of a cargo ship held hostage by pirates jumped overboard from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.

Capt. Richard Phillips was helped out of the water off the Somali coast and is uninjured and in good condition, the official said. He was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.

At the time of the shootings, the fourth pirate was aboard the Bainbridge negotiating with officials, the source said. That pirate was taken into custody.

Maersk Line Limited, owner of the cargo ship that Phillips captained, issued a statement saying it was informed at 1:30 p.m. by the U.S. government that he had been rescued. John Reinhart, president and CEO, called Phillips’ wife, Andrea, to tell her the good news.

Crew members from the ship, the Maersk Alabama, were “jubilant” when they received word, the statement says.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.