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Why the Heck was This Ship Unarmed? Ben Hart Reviews “Captain Phillips”

Captain Phillips
I saw ‘Captain Phillips’ with my son Pete yesterday.

The movie held my attention, so wasn’t a complete waste of money and time.  It wasn’t as good as ‘Gravity.’

I give ‘Captain Phillips’ a “B-minus” grade as entertainment — though the crew says the movie is a complete lie.

The crew claims Captain Phillips was no hero.

Furthermore, the crew is suing the shipping company (the Waterman Steamship Corp) for $50 million for gross negligence, alleging “willful, wanton and conscious disregard for their safety.”

Here’s what struck me about the entire episode.

I kept wondering why there was not a single gun on the ship — not so much as a pistol.

This is a ship that is sailing into waters off the coast of Somalia, known to be infested with pirates.

In the prior three weeks leading up to this event, some 16 container ships had been attacked by Somali pirates — eight of them captured by pirates, with crews held hostage.

But no guns at all on these ships?!

The four pirates who captured Captain Phillips’ ship were just kids — teenagers.  Their tiny boat was barely seaworthy.

Yes, they had AK-47s. But a single pistol could have picked them off as they were scaling the ladder they had hooked onto the ship. They could not use their AK-47s while climbing the ladder.  But, knowing there would be no return fire from the ship, they just climbed aboard without fear.

Some big machine guns similar to what Tony Montana (Al Pacino) used in that great last scene of Scareface, plus some rocket-propelled grenades and shoulder-held Stinger missiles should be enough to discourage these pirates.

A naval-style cannon mounted on the ship plus an anti-aircraft gun to shoot down potential incoming pirate helicopters would also be prudent in these waters crawling with pirates.

Heck, a couple of Molotov cocktails tossed into the rickety boat these kids were on would have been enough to repel this inept pirate attack on Captain Phillips’ ship.

These ships are carrying tens of millions of dollars worth of cargo. They can’t move fast because of all the weight.  They are sitting ducks for pirates.  Obviously, these ships will be attacked — especially if the pirates know they aren’t armed.

If the ship had been armed with some decent weapons, U.S. taxpayers would not have needed to spend some astounding sum of money for three Naval warships to rush to the scene (how much did the fuel alone for this cost?), complete with Navy Seals, paratroopers, assault helicopters, assorted other aircraft and small seacraft — all to deal with four Somali teenagers, two of them barefoot.

This was overkill to an extreme. This was hardly a formidable enemy.

These three warships we used against these shoeless teens cost tens of billions of dollars each.

The ring leader (one who was fortunate enough to have sandals) was captured and is now serving 33 years in a U.S. Federal prison — which is only a few years more than former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (now serving 28 years).

At least the kid will get three meals a day and some much-needed dental care. He’s probably better off in one of our federal prisons than in Somalia.

My thought throughout this film was this ship deserved to be attacked — for stupidity.

I found myself half rooting for these starving, barefoot, hapless Somali teens as they were surrounded by the U.S. Navy.

You have to give these impoverished kids at least some kudos for guts and chutzpah.

They saw an opportunity — a big fat unarmed container floating in the water full of money — and they went for it.

They should have settled for the $30,000 in cash the ship had in its safe that Captain Phillips offered them.  They could have been on and off the boat in minutes with $30k.

That would have carried them a long way in Somalia. They made a big mistake insisting on the full $10,000,000 ransom.

Too much chutzpah often gets you killed — especially when confronted by the U.S. Navy.

But why the heck aren’t our cargo ships armed?

I suspect it has something to do with some kind of United Nations anti-gun decree.

Perhaps arming the crew would violate labor union contracts the shippers sign onto.

And perhaps we can’t expect civilian crew members to use machine guns and RPGs to fight off pirates as part of their job description.

Some pirate operations will certainly be a lot more sophisticated and heavily armed than these four starving teens.

So why not just put, say, six Navy SEALs (equipped with all the right weapons) on every American cargo ship?

The tab for this would be paid by the shipper. That would be a whole lot cheaper for the shipper than losing an entire cargo, ship, and crew to pirates. And it would sure be cheaper for American taxpayers not to have three Naval warships rush to the scene of every pirate attack.

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According to the Cap'n the episode and encounter was worse than portrayed, in the first interviews of the crew after they were safely in the country, I heard them say the Captain was a great guy and no one criticized the mishaps..I guess we need to wait for the right answer now..
The US is dumb enough to comply with the UN international laws about civilian ships carrying arms into other waters and ports. I understand the shipping companies now employ security but as for the weaponry they carry that is not revealed. It would be a lot more advantageous if all members on the ships were trained to use and defend themselves with weapons and removable rail mounted automatic weapons were in place when in hostile waters....