How Close Did Captain Philips Get?

The film Captain Phillips is “based on a true story” of the 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates.

How Close Did ‘Captain Philips’ Get To The Real Life Piracy Tale?

The film Captain Phillips is “based on a true story” of the 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates. But how faithfully does the movie capture real events? Robert Siegel puts that question to Colin Freeman, chief foreign correspondent with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph. Freeman covered the 2009 incident and has himself been kidnapped by Somali pirates.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR NEWS. I’m Robert Siegel.

This week, we’re returning to some movies that were released this year; in particular, movies based on real stories and events. And we’re asking people familiar with those real stories and events whether the movies are faithful to them, or in what ways they aren’t.

Today, the suspenseful piracy story off the Somali Coast: the hijacking of the cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama and the kidnapping of its captain, Richard Phillips.


TOM HANKS: (as Captain Phillips) This the Maersk Alabama, or position is two degrees two north by 39 degrees, 19 east. Our course is 180. Our speed is 17 knots. We have tow skiffs approaching at a distanced of 1.5 miles with the past possible mother ship following – potential piracy situation.

SIEGEL: That’s Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips.

Colin Freeman has written about the story, the movie, and the problem of piracy for Britain’s Sunday Telegraph. In fact, in the course of his work, he was kidnapped by Somali pirates. And he joins us from London. Welcome to the program.


SIEGEL: And first, I should say in the way of summary that in this story, Captain Phillips negotiates the freedom of his crew and ship, in exchange for money. He is taken hostage in a lifeboat and the episode ends in a rescue raided sea by Navy SEALs. Does the movie generally strike you as generally truthful rendering of what happened?

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