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Captain Phillips: The True Story

Press Kit

Does the movie Captain Phillips accurately show what happened on the Maersk Alabama?

Captian PhillipsBrian Beckom Maritime Lawyer On October 11, 2013, a movie called Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips, will premiere nationwide. The movie has received glowing reviews, and claims to be based on actual events. Over three years ago, the Maersk Alabama cargo ship was attacked and captured by four Somali pirates less than 300 nautical miles off the Coast of Somalia. The captain and the crew were taken hostage, and the pirates took the captain, Richard Phillips, off the ship into a life boat. On orders from President Obama, the brave men and women of the U.S. Navy, and specifically Navy marksmen, fatally shot all but one of the pirates and rescued Captain Phillips. The story made national news.

But does the movie tell the whole story? And does the movie tell the story accurately?

Approximately half of the crewmembers, represented by Houston attorney Brian Beckcom, are claiming that the shipping company, Maersk Lines Limited, willfully allowed the Maersk Alabama to sail directly into pirate-infested waters despite receiving multiple warnings to avoid the area. And the lawsuit further claims that the Alabama didn't have adequate anti-pirate security measures. That lawsuit is scheduled for trial in Mobile, Alabama on December 2, 2013.

So, what's the real story?

"Tom Hanks is a terrific actor and I'm sure the movie will do great. But, the real heroes here are the men and women of the U.S. Navy who rescued the shipping company from its poor decisions and the brave crewmembers who actually fought back against the pirates once they boarded the ship—despite the crewmembers being unarmed and facing pirates with automatic weapons,"  says attorney Brian Beckcom, the lead lawyer for the crew.

According to the lawsuit, Maersk essentially "outsourced" the security of the Alabama to the U.S. Military, and by extension, to the taxpayers of the United States, rather than provide basic anti-piracy prevention measures like armed guards. Of note, the Maersk Alabama has been approached by pirates on at least two other occasions after the April 2009 attacks. Both times, according to news reports, the pirates were quickly repelled by armed security personnel.

"If anything, this lawsuit has sent a very clear message to the shipping industry. Namely, if you're going to send crewmembers to dangerous waters, you should protect them or give them the means to protect themselves. Not leave them to fend for themselves, and not rely on the U.S. taxpayers and U.S. military to come to the rescue. It seems like the industry has gotten the message, and that's a good thing for the men and women who work on these ships."

Interview of Captain Phillips   Interview with Brian Beckcom
Tom Hanks film "Captain Phillips" opens amidst controversy   Hidden War Between American Mercenaries, Somali Sailors


For more information, press inquiries about this case, or direct inquiries for Brian Beckcom, contact Emily@vbattorneys.com or refer to this page for updates about the case.


Crew seized by pirates say Tom Hanks movie has got 'hero' Captain Phillips wrong

They claim that rather than saving their lives, Capt Phillips' actions put them at risk in the first place.

Captain Phillips Movie Hero or Lawsuit Villian?

The cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama was hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2009 as it sailed along the coast of Africa. Phillips was taken hostage on a small lifeboat and eventually rescued by Navy SEALs.

A captain’s piracy saga comes to the screen

Within weeks of the hostage incident, in April 2009, crewmen from the Maersk Alabama, Phillips’s ship, filed suit against the ship’s owner and operator, alleging Phillips risked their lives by steering too close to the Somali coast, where pirates were known to be operating


Brian Beckcom
Board Certified Injury Lawyer. Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.