Born: July 9, 1956
Concord, California, USA
Captain Richard Phillips
Born: May 16, 1955
Birthplace: New Hampshire, USA
Galkayo, Mudug, Somalia
Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse
Born: c. 1990
Birthplace: Galkayo, Somalia
Born: March 23, 1959
Miami, Florida, USA
Born: April 16, 1957
Birthplace: Massachusetts, USA
Ship Rank: Captain (second in command)
Born: February 23, 1961
San Francisco, California, USA
Ship Rank: Chief Engineer
Born: May 3, 1948
Viroqua, Wisconsin, USA
Ship Rank: 3rd Engineer
Born: May 17, 1961
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Ship Rank: 2nd Mate
Through our exploration into the Captain Phillips true story, we learned that the Maersk Alabama container ship had been on a voyage from Salalah, Oman to Mombasa, Kenya when it was attacked by Somali pirates on April 8, 2009. See a map of the ship's course further down this page.
Yes. After observing the pirate boats headed his way, the real Captain Phillips used his radio to fake a call to the U.S. Navy. He disguised his voice to play the role of the Navy responder, hoping that the incoming pirates would overhear the communication and believe that assistance was on the way. It worked and the pirate mothership and two of its accompanying speedboats turned back (in the movie there is one less speedboat), leaving only one pirate speedboat in pursuit of the Alabama. -TIME.com
When pitting the Captain Phillips true story vs. the movie, it was confirmed that four Somali pirates were involved in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, the same number shown in the movie.
Yes. Like in the movie, the crew of the Maersk Alabama activated the ship's fire hoses. Captain Phillips fired flares at the pirates and the ship was steered so that it would sway back and forth. However, the pirates eventually still managed to throw up a ladder and board the ship, taking the bridge.
No. The movie opens with Captain Phillips meticulously attending to safety protocols, telling his crew, "Let's tighten up security! I want everything closed, locked, even in port." However, according to Chief Engineer Mike Perry, the real Captain Phillips didn't lock the bridge even when the attacking pirates were known to be on board. "Even at that point he didn't lock 'em," says Perry. Most of the crew members fled below deck and locked themselves in the engine room, remaining there for over twelve hours in 130 degree heat, while Phillips and three other crew members were held at gunpoint. -CNN
No. In the movie, the crew lays down broken glass inside the entrance to the engine room so that one of the pirates will step on it, injuring his bare feet. The injury forces the pirate to turn back, allowing the crew to overtake the other pirate with a knife and keep him as a hostage. In reality, the trap of broken glass never happened. Phillips also never led the pirates below deck to his crew's hiding place. Instead, he sent one of the crew members down to search the ship with one unarmed Somali pirate. Chief Engineer Mike Perry ambushed the pirate with a pocket knife and took him hostage.
Yes. When Somali pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse was searching below deck, Chief Engineer Mike Perry fought with him in the dark of the engine room. Armed with a pocket knife, Perry subdued Muse, badly cutting the pirate's hand before taking him hostage.
No. "I didn't give myself up," says Captain Phillips. "I was already hostage." Unlike Tom Hanks's character in the movie, who yells to his fellow crew members, "I gotta get them off this ship!" as he willingly climbs into the Maersk Alabama's lifeboat, the real Captain Phillips never offered to give himself up for his crew. He was already a hostage. Like in the movie, Phillips says he went down to the lifeboat to help the pirates get it started. It was then that they reneged on their deal to release Phillips for Muse, keeping the Captain on board the lifeboat after the crew had released Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse. To that end, some of the crew members see Phillips as more the victim of a botched exchange, rather than the sacrificial hero that the media made him out to be.
"We vowed we were going to take it to our grave," says the Maersk Alabama's Chief Engineer Mike Perry. "We weren't going to say anything, and then we hear this PR stuff coming out about him giving himself up, and he's still hostage. The whole crew's like, 'What!?' Everybody's in shock." -CNN
No. The real Captain Richard Phillips never offered to give up his own life for his crew.
No, this likely didn't happen. Phillips doesn't mention anything about writing a note to his family like Tom Hank's character does in the movie. However, he does mention praying for his family while he was on the lifeboat.
Although the movie makes it feel like Tom Hanks's character is only held hostage on the Maersk Alabama's lifeboat for about a day and a half, exploring the Captain Phillips true story reveals that the real Richard Phillips was held on the lifeboat for almost five days. He was rescued on Sunday, April 12, 2009 after having been on the lifeboat since Wednesday.
Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse was tried as an adult in the U.S. and sentenced to thirty-three years in federal prison. His exact age became a controversial issue during the trial, with his family saying that he was under eighteen and should be tried as a juvenile. However, after giving different ages for himself, he eventually admitted that he was eighteen. According to his attorneys, while in custody, Muse has tried to commit suicide on a number of occasions. The director of a documentary about Muse, titled Smiling Pirate, says that Sony Pictures made several attempts to meet Muse but he declined, believing that they were just going to portray him as the bad guy.
Not all of the crew agreed with the movie's version of the story. The ones that were okay with it were paid as little as $5,000 by Sony for the rights to their story, with the agreement that they would never speak publicly to anyone else about what really happened on the ship. -New York Post
No. The real Maersk Alabama ship was not used for the making of the movie. Instead, the filmmakers used the Alexander Maersk, a container ship that is identical to the Maersk Alabama. Filming took place off the coast of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.
See the real Captain Phillips speak to the press after returning to the U.S. following his rescue. Watch a CNN segment that addresses the controversy and then view the movie's trailer.
WATCHCaptain Richard Phillips Rescue Press Conference on 4-17-2009
Following his rescue and subsequent
journey back to the United States, the
real Captain Richard Phillips, who is the
basis for the 2013 Tom Hanks movie, speaks
to the press roughly twenty minutes after
touching down on U.S. soil at Burlington
International Airport in Burlington,
Vermont. His wife Andrea Phillips speaks
first and they both thank the Navy SEALs
and the crew of the USS
Bainbridge for their efforts in
getting Richard home safely.
WATCHCaptain Phillips Controversy Interview
In this CNN segment, Drew Griffin reports
on the allegations made by former crew
members, including the Maersk
Alabama's Chief Engineer Mike Perry,
who claim Richard Phillips was reckless
and not a hero. The lawsuit filed by some
of the crew members against the shipping
company is addressed, in addition to the
pirate warnings that the Captain ignored
and kept to himself.
WATCHCaptain Phillips Trailer
Directed by Paul Greengrass and starring
Tom Hanks in the title role, Captain
Phillips tells the true story of the
2009 hijacking of the cargo ship
Maersk Alabama by Somali Pirates.
The biopic is based on these events in the
life of Captain Richard Phillips, as
conveyed in his book A Captain's Duty:
Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous
Days at Sea. This is the second
Captain Phillips movie trailer.