Sunday, November 10, 2013

Captain Philips movie

Having read / watched the news or TLC / Discovery / CNN report on how the whole incident went down, play by play it was interesting to see Hollywood's take on the story.

I probably would think that Hollywood made it more dramatic but I wouldn't doubt that it was pretty close to what happened, the intensity level and reenactment.

So here's my take on the movie and my thoughts on it. I felt bad for both sides... I would not say that I am fully well versed in what's happening in Somalia, the state of their economy & government. I would imagine that they would be somewhat "similar" to any "typical" 3rd world country where corruption and lack of government & private companies providing the needed resources and jobs etc to help their citizens be happy and earn a meaningful wage.

I just checked in Wikipedia and it seems like the possible source of conflict was the toxic pollution of fishing waters off the Somali coast, loss of fishing resources and a lack of proper Government control after the recent civil war, it seems like the fishermen & local warlords have now taken a vigilante role as the "Coast Guard" and have found piracy and ransom kidnapping etc as a means to a profitable end. This is when I'd get on my soap box and shake my fist against greedy & unregulated fishing & pollution in international & local waters by other countries.

With that said, do they know right form wrong? I'd believe so. Do they have alternate choices? Perhaps... maybe consider going inland for jobs, if any existed, or run away as refugees or as immigrants to next door countries and start a new life if it was possible.

Now on the flip side, all of these shipping companies and especially the crew, were there just doing their jobs, to be stewards of the cargo they have been charged to deliver safely. Coincidentally, the cargo which they had carried was relief aid food & water for the region, including Somalia. They did everything they thought that they could to avoid being boarded from anti-piracy drills, water hoses, wake maneuvers, locks and gates for anti-piracy and more. I definitely felt sorry for the trauma that they had to go through. I had thought that I read that they had the means / capability to lock down in the engine room and to pilot the ship from there, in the safety of a locked room, but I guess that was not fully enacted.

Treating this as a case by case incident, it was really unfortunate / unlucky that they got entangled into this ongoing & much bigger mess, which may or may not be their fault at all; kind of a wrong place at the wrong time. Based on what the movie and reports have, seems like (in the movie) they were not with the other shipping pack, which was why they were singled out and targeted. Also the captain had, supposedly sailed a lot closer to the Somali coast than he was supposed to, even with the knowledge and warning from Maersk about increased Piracy threat in the region.

It was a known job hazard though, being a Merchant Marine, the possibility of getting hijacked by pirates. It kind of makes me wonder, what the international marine laws are with regards to protecting the sovereignty of your vessel against pirates / hijackers. I thought I did read that the pirates and local militia had some handguns, simple AK47 and some RPG leftover from their civil war that were being used, however in general they were still pretty low tech and not very tactical, hence leading to many failed hijackings.

What I think may be a good thing for cargo ships to have: stronger piracy countermeasures built in, a bullet proof and hijack proof command center, else definitely a strong room / panic room like setting in which they can continue to sail in safety should they need to hunker down. I might very well say that they need to have powerful rifle and sniper capability, but only start firing back if they are fired upon or after repeated warnings to stay away, then only use the "best offence as their defense".