Captain Phillips No Hero

Captain PhillipsCaptain Phillips, according to his crew, proved to be no hero during the 2009 pirate attack on the cargo ship Maersk Alabama.

The first thoughts to come to mind about piracy is wooden galleons on the high seas, cannons blazing, as pirates armed with cutlasses and flint pistols swing across decks on ropes to capture their prize. Many pirates were actually privateers operating under the authority of major countries at war with one another, with the top three being Spain, France and Britain.

However, modern piracy is anything but glamorous. In 2009, the cargo ship Maersk Alabama was hijacked off the coast of Somalia. Formerly known as the Alva Maersk, the ship was no stranger to mishap. In 2004, the ship was detained in Kuwait, at the the center of a fraud scheme to sell low value cargo as high value goods. According to papers filed in a New York District Court by A. P. Moller-Maersk Group, they were forced to put up $1.86 million for the ship, which was held as collateral. Maersk had been sued by the ex-Kuwaiti patriots for the loss of goods that did not exist.

On November 18, 2009, the Alabama Maersk was attacked by four pirates and its captain, Richard Phillips, was held hostage while the crew had locked itself in the engine room, enduring 130 degree heat. The alleged events surrounding the attack would inspire the making of the 2013 Oscar nominated movie titled Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in the lead role.

Something odd surrounding the release of the film: the crew members actually involved in its making were paid very little and were actually forced into a non-disclosure agreement by Sony Pictures, which basically meant they could not talk about their experiences for the rest of their lives. The reasons why would soon become apparent.

Captain Richard Phillips was touted as an American hero, which, according to his crew, was far from the truth. The movie itself, supposedly based on the actual events, while “very entertaining” as one crewmember put it, was hardly the truth. Choosing to remain anonymous for legal reasons, he claims that most of the movie is “one big lie” and that Captain Phillips was no hero. For the most part, no one wanted to sail with him, claiming he was “real arrogant.”

It has also been alluded that he may have exacerbated the circumstances involving the attack by ignoring anti-piracy protocols, such as sailing too close to the coast. Amongst the many inaccuracies surrounding the attack and rescue was that Phillips offered himself in exchange for his crew. Phillips was already a hostage. Others include: the drills at the beginning of the attack Phillips had the crew performing were lifeboat drills and not security drills. At the onset of the attack, the crew wanted to go to anti-piracy stations, but were refused by the captain, because the lifeboat drills were more important.

Other inaccuracies, large and small, has one wondering why Tom Hanks would have hitched his wagon to a man, despite an NDA gag on his crew members, who was revealed to be far less than a hero. At this point, when many news outlets are carrying the story of just how unheroic Captain Phillips was during the attack, and his crew is speaking out anonymously about his behavior during the attack, what is the point of an NDA? About the only fact true about the attack is of the three pirates being taken out simultaneously by snipers from famed Seal Team Six, fearing for Phillips immediate safety.

Overall, the movie Captain Phillips might be worth the Oscar nomination, but the actions of the title character that inspired the making of the movie are not. Still, given the situation, one thing Captain Phillips has proved to be true: if he is no hero, he is certainly human and none of us are perfect. The crew of the Maersk Alabama has currently filed a lawsuit against the parent company Maersk Line and the Waterman Steamship Corp for wanton disregard of safety.

Editorial by Lee Birdine

New York Post
History vs. Hollywood

11 Responses to "Captain Phillips No Hero"

  1. Bosun   June 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Long before the movie was made, a documentary was produced by National Geographic in which many of the crewmen were interviewed and re-enactments made. Also, they all had the same version of what happened. It would be unlikely that they would be able to relay the same story without tripping up. If you had watched that documentary, you would have seen that they were named in it. Don’t condemn a crew when you clearly don’t know their side.

  2. Michael Bell   May 15, 2014 at 3:59 am

    It would be very unfair to condemn Phillips as a coward based on the grumblings of anonymous crewmen. We don’t know who they are so Phillips can’t really defend himself. They hide behind anonymity supposedly for legal reasons so who can confront them? They obviously have no character since they broke the terms of an agreement and promise. They sure took the cash though! Lets not forget that many news agencies will write anything to attract readers no matter how credible it is.

  3. Brad   April 8, 2014 at 8:05 am

    In the end he is the Captain. Courageous enough to stand his ground and sail the quickest route…. Not a hero maybe but he has Balls. I say good for him. In the end the guy spent days in a life boat at gunpoint, 12 hours in a hot engine room would suck too. I would say that ordeal sucked pretty bad for everyone. You don’t see him whining about his crew.

  4. hankyhanky   March 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

    gozilla also not real… hollywood lie to us 😛

  5. Troll Hunter   February 27, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Before you condem him, keep in mind those crewmen are during Maersk looking for a big payout. They will say whatever it takes to make Phillips look negligent. In the end, they got well paid to do a job.

  6. joseph folsom   February 26, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    It’s hollywood dressing up the situation or the crew members are jealous. One of the two

  7. Mike   February 26, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Anywhere there’s money to be made, the lies and embellishments soon follow. What about the average crewman? Left out in the cold but yet faced the same danger.

  8. ITIMAMOBIWW   February 26, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Hollywood makes entertainment.
    Entertainment is entertaining because it is not real.

    Hollywood has never let facts get in the way of a good story.

    In the Sound of Music, the Van Trappe family did not walk across the Alps to get to Switzerland. They took the train.

    Phillips was/is a ships captain – for real.
    Ships captains aren’t known for ethics.
    They are supposed to deliver stuff from one place to another.
    The really high paying deliverable are “not” on the manifest.
    One man’s ships captain is another port authority’s smuggler.
    One man’s pirate is another nation’s patriot.

    In the telling of the story, it helps if one has script control.
    Hanks has such control.
    Hanks wanted it told so that his character would be shown in a favorable light.
    Hanks delivered a screen product that reflected that agenda.

    This is entertainment.
    If you absorb this as definitive info-tainment, you are going to be sorely mis-informed.

    Go to the movie.
    Enjoy the movie.
    Don’t accept it as any version of truth or fact.
    It’s just a movie – loosely based on a historical event.

  9. Jim Jackson   February 26, 2014 at 10:32 am

    This is just a regurgitation of articles and information that came out at the time the movie was released

  10. Donna Ahern   February 26, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Its always about the money. No morals, no ethics.

  11. Don Fiore   February 26, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Another reason why I despise Hollywood.


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