“Captain Phillips” Real Life Crew Member Says Movie Is Accurate (Exclusive)
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.
As a ship’s captain frequently trading in the Gulf of Aden Area, I can vouch for the authenticity of the marine and piracy scenes. In many respects they are terrifyingly lifelike. Of course, being filmed on a ship and not in a studio makes a massive difference to reality.
Regarding the action by some of the crew, I suspect this lawsuit is more the result of the actions of avaricious lawyers than Captain Phillips’ crew. My long experience of ship’s crew is that they are, almost without exception, fiercely loyal to the captain under who they serve. As for knowingly putting the ship in danger by steaming in a piracy area? Take a look at a map, people. How do you steam between ports A and B, both of which are in the high risk area, without transiting the area? For those of us almost continually in the Gulf of Aden High Risk Area, we are professional seafarers and that’s what we do – and sailors don’t normally cry.
With the tragic events in Nairobi and East Africa over the last few weeks, the movie has become especially topical and relevant. For more intuitive background to this sad part of the world and the life of pirates and those sailing in the area, check out Amazon Books/Kobo/B&N/iTunes – ‘The Megiddo Revenge’. http://amzn.com/B00F4NP1KW