A U.S. judge sentenced a Somali pirate to 33 years and nine months in prison on Wednesday for his role in the 2009 seizure of the Maersk Alabama container ship and two other vessels in the Indian Ocean.

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse -- the sole surviving pirate after others were killed by U.S. Navy marksmen in a high-seas rescue -- was charged with kidnapping, hijacking and hostage-taking. He pleaded guilty in May.

Muse was extradited to the United States following the April 2009 attack on the Maersk Alabama, in which kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips was rescued while three captors around him were shot dead by sailors on another vessel.

The hijacking of ships near the coast of Somalia, where an Islamist insurgency and lawlessness has created a pirate safe haven, has cost the shipping industry millions of dollars.

The fight against piracy has been hampered by legal ambiguities over the appropriate venue to prosecute captured suspects. A U.N. envoy this month proposed special courts be set up rapidly in the Somali enclaves of Somaliland and Puntland, and in Tanzania, to try captured pirates.