Caption Phillips drew international attention on an issue what’s seldom discussed in western media: piracy. I’m not talking about illegally watching movies, but a far more sinister issue that’s plagued the shipping industry for years.
Yesterday, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at a military base in the African nation of Djibouti there that had been six pirate attacks on commercial ships in the last few weeks.
The spike in attacks goes against a general downturn in the number of piracy attempts in recent years, having peaked at crisis levels in 2010-2012; so much so that the U.S. navy had go get involved.
Another by-product of that intense period of piracy (which is when the aforementioned Caption Phillips is set) was that ships were required to carry weapons, and hire security personnel.
We’re talking about seriously well-trained and badass security. Check out the video below to see the intense training each guard is put through in preparation for facing pirates.
All that training was necessary for one ship that was passing through the Gulf of Aden last week. The caption noticed an incoming pirate ship in the distance and called his security forces to the deck. What transpired was a brutal shootout that you can watch in the video below.
Despite the recent upturn in pirate attack, Marine General Thomas Waulhauser said that the U.S. were, “not ready to say there’s a trend yet,” and claiming that the current famine and drought in the Horn of Africa may be responsible for people returning to piracy.
In March, pirates highjacked an oil tanker off the coast of Somalia in what was the first piracy attempt since 2012. Since then there have been five other attempts culminating in the shootout in the video.
Shipping companies are wise to piracy nowadays and stock their ships with guns and security accordingly. It’s difficult to see pirate being as effective as they used to be at highjacking, but crumbling economic and environmental conditions will always create a sense of desperation.
Still, it’s got to be safer than travelling on United Airlines!