Attorney Representing Maersk Alabama Crewmembers Claims There's More to the "True Story" Behind Oscar-Nominated Captain Phillips

Share Article

Although nearly half of the real-life crewmembers of the Maersk Alabama have launched a lawsuit against Captain Richard Phillips and employer Maersk Line Limited, the film—claiming that it is “based on a true story”—has now been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture.

Although the Hollywood version of the real-life events surrounding the 2009 pirate attack on the Maersk Alabama has received a lot of attention, a darker and more complex truth lies behind the celebration of the film’s six Oscar nominations.

Mr. Beckcom, of VB Attorneys, has been the lead attorney representing members of the Maersk Alabama’s crew for over two-and-a-half years in a suit which alleges that the real-life Captain Phillips put their lives at risk by knowingly sailing into harm’s way. (Alabama 02-CV-2012-900747-90, Texas 2009-64336)

The crewmembers involved in the suit argue that, despite clear warnings, Captain Richard Phillips and Maersk Line chose to send the crew into an area of known Somali pirate activity (according to Alabama 02-CV-2012-900747-90, which was filed in Circuit Court of Mobile County and Texas 2009-64336, which was filed in 164th Harris County District Court). Crewmembers in the case claim that, because Captain Phillips and their employer chose to save money on shipping costs by ignoring piracy warnings, Captain Phillips is partially responsible for the harm they suffered as a result of the attack. (Alabama 02-CV-2012-900747-90, Texas 2009-64336)

Although the Maersk Alabama was later secured, deterring two attempted pirate attacks in the same area, it was not armed or protected at the time of the 2009 attack. The crewmembers claim that they were unguarded and unprotected in dangerous waters, with no way to defend themselves against the heavily armed criminals that boarded the vessel. At this time, Maersk Line has not yet chosen to compensate the victims of the pirate attack or the American government for footing the bill for the rescue. (Alabama 02-CV-2012-900747-90, Texas 2009-64336)

It makes sense that, in order to make a better story, some facts would be omitted and some inconvenient truths would be smoothed over. Although the film may make it seem otherwise, members of the Maersk Alabama crew continue to assert that they suffered harm in what should have been a predictable—and preventable—attack. (Alabama 02-CV-2012-900747-90, Texas 2009-64336) For more information, visit


Case Numbers:
Alabama 02-CV-2012-900747-90, Circuit Court of Mobile County
Texas 2009-64336, 164th Harris County District Court

About VB Attorneys:

VB Attorneys, located in Houston, Texas, is a nationally recognized law firm that handles cases both in Texas and around the world. Offering a full-service, fully supportive approach, the firm represents victims and families who have been injured at work, at home, and at sea. Brian Beckcom, a Board Certified attorney who has extensive experience representing injured seafarers, is a founding partner with the firm and aims to provide comprehensive legal representation for vulnerable individuals who must go up against large corporations to resolve their legal issues.

For more information about VB Attorneys, please visit

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Danielle Ruderman

Emily Corwin
Visit website