Posted by: Jerry Garrett | October 14, 2013

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Whatever Happened To The Maersk Alabama?

The Maersk Alabama leaves Mombasa in late April 2009. (Wikipedia)

The Maersk Alabama, attacked in April 2009 by Somali pirates who abducted its Capt. Richard Phillips and demanded a $10 million ransom, is still in service. In fact, it is still plying the same Mombasa-Djibouti route through east African waters!

But get this: Pirates have tried to hijack it four more times!

The 508-foot-long ship, built in Taiwan in 1998, is owned by Maersk Lines Ltd. and operated by Waterman Steamship Corp. It was originally christened the Alva Maersk, and flagged in Denmark. In 2004, it was re-christened the Maersk Alabama and registered in the United States.

When it was hijacked in April 2009, it was the first U.S. flagged ship to be attacked by pirates.

The hijacking – successful on a second attempt – was resolved after a few days when the U.S. Navy intervened and shot three of the four pirates. The fourth was sentenced to a long prison term. Capt. Phillips was freed unharmed.

Although it was more than a year before the captain himself went back to sea, the Alabama kept right on sailing. In fact it ultimately safely delivered the cargo it had on board when it was hijacked.

Incredibly, barely six months later, four more pirates tried to hijack it again – near the same area off the Somali coast where it had been attacked before. It was fired upon by pirates with automatic weapons, traveling in a skiff. This time the assault failed because the Alabama had placed armed guards on board. Surprise! They fired on the pirates and scared them off.

In September 2010, the Alabama was targeted again by Somali pirates! There were five guys armed with AK-47s. Again, the armed security force on board repelled their skiff.

In March 2011, Somali pirates struck yet again, and were chased off by the armed security forces on board.

Two months later, in May 2011, while transiting the same general area the Alabama was attacked a fifth (or was it sixth?) time by a skiff-load of approximately five pirates. They got close enough to attempt to hook onto the side of the ship with a metal ladder, but the security team fired at them and they zoomed away.

You might think that was enough drama for the Alabama, but no. It continues to this day on the same perilous route.

To answer your next question: Was that the actual Maersk Alabama in the film “Captain Phillips“?

No, that was the Alexander Maersk – an exact twin of the Alabama – that the film crew rented for nine weeks to film the movie off the coast of Malta.

Jerry Garrett

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