Beginning his academic career at the Rochester Institute of Technology on a Navy ROTC scholarship, Rear Admiral Rick Williams went on to postgraduate studies at the U.S. Naval War College, where he received a master of arts in national security affairs. Eventually becoming a Deputy Fifth Fleet commander in the United States Navy, Rear Admiral Rick Williams established the Navy’s first-ever Counter-Piracy Maritime Force.
In 2009, the Counter-Piracy Maritime Force was part of the rescue of the Maersk-Alabama. The 500-foot-long cargo ship was headed to Kenya with millions of dollars’ worth of humanitarian aid. A group of four pirates was able to surreptitiously board and abscond with the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips. Within four days, three of the four pirates were neutralized courtesy of .30 caliber bullets from the Navy’s SEAL Team Six. The final pirate, only 16 years old, was captured. Aside from the stress, Captain Phillips was unharmed.