Shane Murphy is a real life crew member from the Maersk Alabama who was taken hostage in 2009 along with 20 others and Captain Richard Phillips. When I met Murphy, Chief Mate under Phillips, a captain with the Merchant Marine, he told me that the movie “Captain Phillips” was accurate, albeit compressed from five days to two hours.
That was when we shared a cab from Lincoln Center over to the Harvard Club on opening night of the New York Film Festival. He and his wife were a lot of fun, also quite serious. Murphy told me that night that he was glad the Somali pirates came off as sympathetic.
Flash forward to news that Maersk is being sued by nine former crew members from the incident. We didn’t know that at the premiere. The lawsuit was filed in April 2012, and it’s coming to trial soon in Florida. Who’s not suing? The officers on the Maersk Alabama, all of whom are characters in “Captain Phillips” and have been accorded a higher status than the crew that was in the hold.
I spoke to Shane Murphy earlier this week, wondering about the lawsuit to which is not a party. “I can’t talk about it because of testimony and depositions,” he said. “But I can talk about the movie, and I liked what they did. I told you that then. The movie is accurate.”
By the way, all nine of the men who are suing are from the Seafarers Union, and they are listed as ‘unlicensed crew.’ Phillips didn’t mention any of them in his 2011 book upon which the movie was based except for a passing reference to Andy Brzezinski, 62, as an “old salt.” Phillips may have been a great captain but he wasn’t very diplomatic.