‘Captain Phillips’ 2013 is the true story of a US cargo ship hijacked by Somali Pirates and them holding Captain Richard Phillips for ransom. It is a gripping and nail-biting story of how the US army tried to settle the situation and retrieve Captain Phillips safely from the Somalis.
Watching the film in the cinema yesterday, having not known much about the real Captain Phillips, I was heartbroken at the ordeal he had to go through. Played by ‘Tom Hanks’, Captain Phillips was targeted by the group of Somalis when they took the cargo ship he was delivering to Mombasa, Kenya. Muse (Barkhad Abdi) took a particular interest in Phillips and took him away from his ship and held him for ransom without his crew.
The one thing I couldn’t understand when watching the film was, why the US navy involved themselves for one lonely Captain. The cargo ship was saved and escorted to Mombasa by militants and unfortunately, however cruel it may be, the cost of bringing out the US navy or paying the ransom is more than the worth of one life. It wasn’t until researching the film later that I discovered that this was the first American cargo ship hijacked in two hundred years. So they probably pulled out all the stops to retrieve Phillips and to tell the Somalis not to try hijacking again.
The Somali pirate issue hasn’t been great until very recently. After this incident in 2009, the US and the UK, along with other navies decided to defend the international waters surrounding Somalia with the agreement that they would aid any country’s ship that came under attack. Now that the Somalis know that the navies are there they are targeting smaller ships that fall through the radar and that are less likely to alert the navies.
It still isn’t right though and we, as a nation, shouldn’t have to deploy our navy into international waters because international waters should be open for everyone to use. We shouldn’t be scared to use that route for our ships or to not travel near the shores of Somali for fear of being hijacked. We also shouldn’t have to pick which is worth saving more, the ransom money or the crews involved in the ordeal. Surely we should do whatever we can to help the poor people held to ransom, just like the US navy did for Captain Phillips, and not just leave them under the pretext of saving money or resolving the situation peacefully.
The piracy issue in Somalia isn’t a war we get involved in because it isn’t our war to fight. They haven’t had a coherent government in the country for more than twenty years and we don’t attempt to help form one because it isn’t in our best interests as a nation. We have also taken steps to ensure our people and others, less capable of defending themselves on such a big scale, are safer in the waters surrounding Somalia so the problem is contained within the country itself.
But is that right? Should we have to go to such lengths to make sure the Somalis hurt no one but themselves? Or should we deploy our navies in places that need them more and find another route that doesn’t involve ‘Somali Waters’? Is that admitting defeat?
The case of Captain Phillips was a warning not just to Somali pirates from the navy but to any captain and crew using those waters and creating a film about it only spreads the awareness further. Watching a film can be enjoyable, which ‘Captain Phillips’ was, but you can also take a lot more away with you than just a good night at the cinema.