Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in the title role, paints an almost larger than life image of the man who was responsible for a ship that got attacked by Somali pirates in 2009. A member of the crew on the ill-fated MV Maersk Alabama believes that Hollywood took a few too many liberties in recreating the harrowing story.

For starters, the anonymous crewmember claims that the Capt. Richard Phillips essentially caused the incident he’s lauded with being a hero for managing. “Phillips wasn't the big leader like he is in the movie," the source told the New York Post. The source also claimed that Phillips was a captain no one wanted to sail with due to his cavalier attitude, and alleged that his arrogant recklessness landed them in the life-threatening situation.

The anonymous crewmember is not alone in his feelings that the situation that manifested aboard the ship could have been avoided. Eleven crewmembers have already banded together to sue Maersk Line and the Waterman Steamship Corp for a total of $50 million. Phillips is serving as a witness for the defense.

“The crew had begged Captain Phillips not to go so close to the Somali coast, said attorney Deborah Waters. “He told them he wouldn’t let pirates scare him or force him to sail away from the coast.”


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According to the crewmember who was on board the Maersk, Phillips failed to follow the ship’s anti-piracy plan by not cutting the lights and power or going below deck when nearing the pirate ships. Phillips apparently did not make an effort to get 600 miles away from the coast of Somalia eitherm– staying roughly 235 miles away. The captain also allegedly ordered the crew to complete an annual fire drill – not a security drill – when Somali pirates were less than seven miles away.

One of the major parts of the film is when Hanks as Phillips says, “If you’re gonna shoot somebody, shoot me!” and essentially offering himself up to the pirates. What happened, says the crewmember, was a bit different. First of all, he says that Phillips didn’t really have a plan and that it was the chief engineer who told the rest of the crew to go below decks and lock themselves in. And, as for Phillips offering himself to the pirates, the crewmember says he became a hostage as a result of a botched deal – nothing more or less.

Regardless of the percentage of fact in Captain Phillips, audiences are flocking to the box office to see Hanks in his element as the captain of the Maersk Alabama. Critics likewise, have found the Paul Greengrass-directed film to be nothing but praiseworthy.

– Chelsea Regan

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