For months Somalia pirates have been wreaking havoc on African and Middle East shipping routes. Today they upped the stakes by attacking the Maersk Alabama, an 1,100 TEU containership built in 1998. (Here’s a PDF of the entire Maersk fleet; you’ll find Maersk Alabama on page 5)
As I write this, reports are that the crew regained control of the ship but Captain Richard Philips is being held hostage in one of the ship’s lifeboats which is drifting nearby. Coalition forces including a US Navy ship is steaming to the scene with an ETA of a few hours.
Earlier in the day, CNN anchor Kyra Philips was somehow able to place a call to the ship and speak with the second mate after the crew resecured the ship. Here’s the video.
The chief mate on the ship is 34 year old 2001 Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduate Shane Murphy, the son of MMA professor Joe Murphy, the author of the popular study guide for merchant marine officers. Here’s a remarkable video interview of Captain Joe Murphy from The Cape Code Times about this incident.
YouTube – Cape graduate taken hostage by Somalis
This incident strikes very close to home with Mass Maritime just up the road. I also have 2 high school shipmates who currently serve as captains of other Maersk ships that sail in these pirate infested waters. I’ve have also had the pleasure of working with current MMA cadets Christiaan Conover as a guest co-host on Messing About In Ships podcast and Jonathan White as a student blogger over at Weekly Leader.
Somalia piracy is nothing new, but they have raised the stakes considerably by attacking a US manned vessel and holding an American citizen hostage. Hopefully, the good that will come out of this is that it will raise enough attention on the problem that real solutions will be found for mariners of all nations who risk their lives in these dangerous waters.
For great ongoing coverage of this incident, check out gCaptain.com.
Quentin Snediker, the Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport. Shipyard Director, explains what’s happening with the restoration of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan, an American maritime icon.
YouTube – The Voyage Begins
From Mystic Seaport:
The Charles W. Morgan is the last surviving wooden whaling ship from the great days of sail. Built in 1841 in New Bedford, MA, the Morgan had a successful 80-year whaling career. She made 37 voyages before retiring in 1921, and was preserved as an exhibit through the efforts of a number of dedicated citizens. After being on display in South Dartmouth, MA, until 1941, she came to Mystic Seaport, where each year thousands of visitors walk her decks and hear the fascinating story of her career as a whaling vessel, historic exhibit, film and media star, and a porthole into America’s rich history.
Over the last three decades, the Charles W. Morgan has undergone two regimes of partial restoration along with annual maintenance. Despite these efforts, the inevitable effects of time on the wooden fabric of the vessel’s structure demand additional extensive restoration. If left unchecked, these deficiencies will threaten the structural integrity of the Morgan and her use as a primary artifact in Mystic Seaport’s interpretive programs.
If you love ships and the sea but haven’t been to Mystic Seaport, drop what you’re doing and get there now. You won’t be disappointed.
Bonus: Here’s an interesting 1997 New York Times interview with Quentin Snediker during another significant ship project, the building of the Amistad. Q&A/Quentin Snediker ; A New Amistad, With Human Dimensions
Want to become a Citizen Photojournalist?
The New York Times has asked readers to send in their photos from around the world Picturing the Recession. They ask “How do you see the recession playing out in your community? What signs of hardship or resilience stand out? How are you or your family personally affected? Creative ways of documenting the changes around you are encouraged.” You can submit your photos here.
Earlier this week, the New York Times published a story about how the global financial crisis and economic recession is having an impact on boating in America.(Boats Too Costly to Keep Are Littering Coastlines) Always sad to see a derelict boat.
Wow! This going to be an exciting adventure! Can’t wait! (Make sure you pop out to watch)