Whatever happened to the $30,000 in ransom money in the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips?
Did you know the money disappeared and was never recovered?
Here’s the true story (as far as it goes) from the movie “Captain Phillips” starring Tom Hanks:
“On April 8, 2009, four armed Somali pirates scurried up the side of a large cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, and took Capt. Richard Phillips and his crew hostage,” The Associated Press has reported. “In a failed attempt to get the pirates to leave, Phillips gave them $30,000 from the ship’s safe. The pirates eventually abandoned the Maersk, jumping into a lifeboat and taking the cash and Phillips at gunpoint.
“The USS Bainbridge, a destroyer that had responded to the hijacking, gave chase as the pirates headed toward the Somali coast. Days later, a team of SEALs parachuted into the Indian Ocean and boarded the Bainbridge. During the crisis, the Navy persuaded the pirates to let the Bainbridge tow their lifeboat and then tricked the fourth pirate into coming aboard the Bainbridge. As the Bainbridge reeled in the lifeboat for a better shot, the SEALs took up positions on the back of the warship and trained their sights on the three pirates.”
Here’s where the movie starts to differ from the actual account of what happened.
When a gun unexpectedly went off inside the lifeboat, the SEAL snipers opened fire. Seconds later, one or possibly two SEALs descended the tow rope and boarded the lifeboat, quickly shooting the pirates — one of whom was still alive. (Former SEAL Matt Bissonnette recounted the episode in his memoir “No Easy Day.”)
“Entering the life raft, they quickly and methodically re-engaged each pirate, making sure there was no more threat,” Bissonnette recalled. “They found Phillips tied up in the corner unhurt.”
In an interview, Phillips said he didn’t see the SEALs firing inside the 25-foot lifeboat. But he said one of the pirates closest to him was “gasping” and in a “death rattle.” The young pirate had two serious chest wounds, he said. He didn’t see the other two pirates at the other end of the lifeboat. (Instead of three shots fired, as reported in the press – and depicted in the movie – an independent forensics expert estimated up to 19 shots had been fired into the bodies of the pirates!)
But here’s the weird thing: The $30,000 was never recovered. Nobody claims to know what happened to it.
It’s not like it was a lot of money, but the mystery of the money perplexed enough people involved with the investigation that lie detector tests were given to each of the SEALs who got on the lifeboat, any naval officer who went on board, and even Capt. Phillips.
The lawyer for the Muse character in the movie, who in real life pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nearly 34 years, said his client had no idea who took the money, and that the pirates didn’t throw it overboard. As a crime scene, the lawyer said the lifeboat was “contaminated.” Phillips said in his book that the money could have easily been concealed in a small bag or someone’s pockets.
Phillips wrote he saw Muse take the money out of the bag it was in and divide it into piles of “two stacks of hundreds, one of fifties, then twenties, fives, and tens … I never saw the money again. Later, when they gave me a sack to lean against, I felt the stacks of money inside, but I never spotted the cash out in the open again.”
A spokesman for Maersk Line Ltd. said the missing money remains a mystery: “We simply don’t know.” Insurance apparently paid for it, so you might ask, who cares?
But consider this: If the villains in this tale ended up dead, or in prison, isn’t the most likely culprit one of the “heroes”?
October 12, 2013