zxc ® 13-Nov-2014 16:38

A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea

Year: 2010
Language: english
Author: Richard Phillips, Stephan Talty
Publisher: Hyperion
Edition: 1st
ISBN: 978-1401323806
Format: PDF
Quality: eBook
Pages count: 142
Description: A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea is a book by Captain Richard Phillips, the captain of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama when it was hijacked in 2009. It was written with Stephan Talty.
Published by Hyperion on April 6, 2010 (and on audio by Tantor), the text tells the story of Phillips' capture and hostage-taking by Somali pirates in April 2009. The book alternates between Phillips's five-day ordeal and the plight of his family in Vermont, watching the drama unfold on cable news. ABC News reported that the publication of his book coincided with a rise in concern about piracy.
A mariner of 30 years' experience when his ship was taken, Phillips took extensive security precautions to keep his crew safe and hidden, leaving himself as the only possible hostage. This led to an ordeal of several days in a lifeboat in the hands of pirates, who Phillips portrays as alternately conciliatory, vicious, and unfocused.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy assembled a large task force, and tensions steadily rose, as did Phillips’ fear for his life. The book details Phillips' attempted escape and eventual rescue by U.S. Navy SEALs, and portrays Phillips' wife Andrea as loyal and strong-willed.
Columbia Pictures optioned the book and acquired the life rights to Phillips in spring 2009. In March 2011, it was announced that Barkhad Abdi would star as the lead Somali pirate, Tom Hanks would star as Phillips and Faysal Ahmed as Najee in a Columbia film based on the hijacking and Phillips's book, scripted by Billy Ray, and produced by the team behind The Social Network. The film, entitled Captain Phillips, was released in October 11, 2013 to widespread critical acclaim.[citation needed]


The heat in the lifeboat had become completely unbearable. The last drops of cool ocean water from
my escape attempt had evaporated off my skin hours ago and, even though it was two in the morning,
the heat was radiating off the hull and pressing down on me. I felt as if I were sitting on top of the
equator. I’d stripped down to my khakis and socks, but I couldn’t even put my feet on the deck
because it was boiling hot. My ribs and arms were aching, too, from the beating the pirates had given
me, absolutely batshit furious that their million-dollar American hostage had almost gotten away.
I could see the lights of the navy ship through the aft hatch, dipping up and down on the ocean
swells astern, about half a mile away. I’d almost made it. If the moon hadn’t been so bright, the
pirates would never have spotted me. I should have been drinking a cold beer in the captain’s
quarters right now, telling my adventure story to half the crew and waiting for my call home to go
The ship looked gigantic out there. It was like a piece of home floating so close it seemed unreal. It
appeared to be a destroyer, which meant they had enough firepower to blow a thousand pirate ships
back to Mogadishu. Why hadn’t they done anything?
The hard plastic of the molded seats was digging into my back and causing my legs to cramp. I hung
my head back, trying to relieve the stress on my neck. I was now trussed up like a deer in the middle
of the lifeboat. The Somalis had lashed my hands to a vertical bar at the top of the lifeboat’s canopy
and bound my feet together. I couldn’t even feel my fingers. The lanky pirate, the one I called Musso,
had pulled the ropes so tight I’d lost sensation in less than a minute. My hands were starting to swell
up like a pair of clown gloves.
I’d been better.
I stood there, panting, counting the minutes go by. I could hear the creaking of the boat and the slap
of waves against the fiberglass hull.
Then, suddenly, the whole atmosphere in the boat changed. Nobody said a word, nobody moved. I
couldn’t see much anyway, just the eyes of the Somalis and their teeth when they smiled or spoke.
There was a little moonlight coming in through the hatches, fore and aft, but I could feel the
atmosphere change in a split second. It was like an electric switch had been flipped from positive to
negative. When someone has a loaded AK-47 pointed at your face, you get to know his mood really
well, believe me. If he’s happy or annoyed, if his nose itches, if he’s thinking about breaking up with
his girlfriend, whatever. You know. And my skin just felt a change in the air—like something
dangerous had slipped into the boat and was sitting right next to me.
I could catch glimpses of what was going on, but mostly it was what I heard. The first thing was a
click. The sound was coming from the cockpit of the boat, where the Leader was sitting. Click.
Silence. Click. Silence. Click, click. He was pulling the trigger of his 9mm, dry-firing it. In the
darkness, I couldn’t see if the gun was pointed at me, but I felt a cold sensation creep across my chest.
The little bastard didn’t have a clip in the gun, or my head would have exploded in a big red spray
against the hull. No bullets in the chamber, either. Yet.
And then out of the darkness I heard the chanting. From the cockpit, the Leader called out something
in this droning voice and the other three—Tall Guy, Musso, and the crazy-eyed Young Guy—
answered him. I leaned forward, trying to figure out what they were saying. It was obviously some
kind of religious ceremony, like a Latin Catholic Mass back in Massachusetts when I was growing up.
A few hours ago these guys had been laughing and telling jokes and boasting how they were “real
Somali sailors, twenty-four/seven.” You could almost forget they were pirates and I was their
hostage. Now everything was different. It was like we’d gone back ten centuries and they were asking
Allah for his blessing for what they were about to do.
I knew what was happening. But I didn’t have to sit there and take it.
“What are you going to do now, kill me?” I yelled up to the Leader. In the darkness, I could hear
him laugh—I saw the flash of his teeth—and then he coughed and spit. Then the four of them went
back to the chanting. I tried to move my hands and loosen the rope, but I had to give it to Musso. He
could tie a goddamn knot like nobody’s business.
The prayers came to an end, just like that. The boat was quiet and I could hear the splashing of the
waves again. I stared into the darkness, looking to see the muzzle of an AK-47 being raised toward
me. Nothing.
“You have a family?”
The voice was mocking, self-assured. He was the Leader, no question.
“Yeah, I have a family,” I said. I realized with a feeling of panic that I hadn’t said my good-byes to
them. I bit down on my lip.
“Daughter? Son?”
“I have a son, a daughter, and a wife.”
Silence. I heard some rustling up near the cockpit. Then the Leader spoke again.
“That’s too bad,” he said. He was trying to rattle me. And he was doing a damn good job of it,
“Yeah, that is too bad,” I shot back. Whatever they did or said, I couldn’t let them know they’d
gotten to me.
Musso came toward me down the aisle of the lifeboat. He took some white cotton cloth that he’d
torn from a shirt and laced it through the ropes around my hands. He didn’t pull them tight, just twined
them around the ropes. Then he took out some parachute-type lines, one red, one white, and started
lacing those through. Slowly. His face was maybe a foot from mine and I could see him concentrating
hard on what he was doing. The white and red lines were looped around in this intricate pattern that
he had to get exactly right.
It’s a weird feeling, watching yourself being prepared to die. It was like they expected me to go
along with my own murder, to be a good victim and not say a word. I felt a jolt of anger shoot through
me. These guys were not going to take me away from my family, from everything and everyone I
loved. No way.
When Musso was done, he walked back to the cockpit. The Somalis started talking again—regular
conversation this time—and they seemed to come to some kind of an agreement. I saw the Leader
hand his pistol to Tall Guy, who came walking down the aisle toward me. So he’d been chosen to do
the job.
Tall Guy sat down behind me on the orange survival suit. For some reason, they had to be standing
or sitting on something orange or red during the ritual. He checked the 9mm clip, slammed it back in,
and then played with the gun. It was like he was toying with me. The one I called Young Guy, the one
who’d been staring at me the whole two days, smiling like a deranged maniac, came over and
dragged my feet onto the exposure suit. At the same time, Musso came down and started tugging hard
on my arms. They were trying to get me in the right position, I guess, for a clean killing. The Leader
was shouting at Musso, “Pull tight!” and then at the other guy, “Get him up!” Musso yanked on the line
that tied my hands, trying to get my arms above my head. They wanted to stretch me out. No goddamn
way, I said to myself. I’m not going to be your fatted calf.
As Musso pulled up, I jammed my fists under my chin. “You can’t do it,” I muttered to him through
my teeth. “You’re not strong enough.” I thought if I could mess up their ceremony, I might survive a
little longer. Musso started to get mad. His nostrils were flaring and he was getting exasperated with
me. The sweat was popping off his face, and I started enjoying it—this badass Somali pirate with the
automatic weapon couldn’t get me to do his bidding. We came face-to-face. “You’ll never do it,” I
whispered to him.
Musso finally let go of my arms and whacked me in the face. I grinned.
The Leader was getting hot, too, mixing his Somali and his English as he screamed at the guys.
“Pull it tight!” he yelled. Musso studied me and then smiled. He put his hands on my arms and rested
them there, like Let’s just chill out, pal. I nodded, but I kept my fists jammed under my chin. Musso
grabbed the line tethered to my wrists and yanked up hard. I was ready. My hands raised an inch as
the rope creaked tight, but that was it.
Now the Somalis were really going for it, grunting with the effort, fighting me with everything they
had. Musso tried to yank up on my hands; I held them down. One of them pulled my feet onto the
orange suit, but I kicked them back. Another was standing behind me with the gun. I was breathing
hard, mouthfuls of hot suffocating air, but I was holding my own. I thought in the back of my mind,
How long can you keep this up? Not long, I knew. Better say your good-byes.
All of a sudden, there was an explosion near my left ear. I saw stars and my head kicked forward
and dropped into my hands. My whole body went slack. I felt blood spurting out between my fingers
and running down my face.
Holy shit, he really did it, I thought. He shot me.
My vision was blurred but I looked up at the vertical and horizontal green strut on the bulkhead
wall. It looked like a cross, and just staring at it had settled my fears before. As I looked at the cross,
the strangest thing came into my mind. I’m going to see Frannie, I thought. Frannie, my dang dog in
Vermont, a nutcase from the pound who never once obeyed any of my commands. She’d been hit by a
car in front of our farmhouse a month before I left. Now I was going to see her.
Then I heard Musso. “Don’t do it!” he shouted. “No, no!” I looked up. Blood from my head had
spilled onto the white knots. Musso was freaking out.
I took a deep breath. I didn’t know if I’d dodged a bullet or what had just happened.
I really should have told the pirates: I’m too stubborn to die that easily. You’re just going to have
to try harder.
Rating: 5 / 5 (Votes: 18)

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