Celebrity Speaker, author, and merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips has a story so amusing that it captured worldwide media attention and eventually would lead to a box office hit film starring Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks. In April of 2009, Captain Phillips and a crew of twenty men were en route to bring relief supplies to Mombasa, Kenya, then to Somalia and Uganda when Somali pirates came aboard their ship, Maersk Alabama. Captain Phillips stayed on the bridge of the boat with two other crewmen and the three were taken as hostages by the pirates. The rest of the crew was able to lock themselves in the engine room and take control of the vessel from the steering gear room which made it impossible for the pirates to take control. As the ordeal continued, the crew captured one of the pirates and with the hijackers still unable to take full control of the Maersk Alabama, they moved over to a lifeboat, kidnapping Captain Phillips to use as their bargaining chip. Five days later, US Navy SEAL Team 6 attacked the lifeboat and rescued Captain Richard Phillips.
Following the incident, Celebrity Speaker Richard Phillips was heralded as a hero for risking his life to allow for his crew to escape to the engine room. The following year he published his story in his book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea. Phillips’ book became a New York Times Bestseller, received national attention from such media outlets as USA Today, the Associated Press, the New York Daily News, CNN, and ABC News. Captain Phillips appeared on television programs including Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and was featured in NBC’s People of the Year in 2009. Columbia Pictures attained the film rights for the book and production of the film, Captain Phillips, ensued. Tom Hanks played Captain Richard Phillips, which was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, 4 Golden Globe Awards and 9 BAFTA Awards.