While my question regards piracy in general, the movie Captain Phillips is what brought it on due to it being a true story. My question is why in hell if you are going to drive a ship full of cargo worth millions, through pirate waters, you wouldn't have weapons? Or personell equipped to handle such matters. Four skinny Somalis? Really?

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    While an interesting question, this doesn't really seem to be about movies. – DA. Oct 13 '15 at 23:19
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about the movie, but about the events depicted in the movie. – BCdotWEB Oct 14 '15 at 13:49
  • Granted I may be a bit biased as my answer is garnering plenty of upvotes, but I feel this question is relevant as understanding the circumstances governing the reasons for no weapons aboard a maritime vessel leads to a greater appreciation for the events depicted in the film, thus lending credibility to the film's portrayal of the events. – MattD Oct 14 '15 at 20:32

There are several potential reasons surrounding the real life incident.

Captain’s Rescue Revives Debate Over Arming Crews

To sum up the article:

  1. Many port authorities around the world prohibit ships with weapons aboard from docking. Tanker ships such as this tend to dock several times while in transit, and would be forced to skip docks where ships armed with weapons would be forbidden to dock. Given this, simply not having weapons aboard makes it easier to dock when needed. Laws within several governing bodies would need to be altered, but even then they may not all be equal from port to port as certain countries have different concerns when it comes to firearms than others.

  2. Lack of training for pirate attacks. Some captains don't want their crew members to carry or handle firearms aboard ships as they don't have combat training to fend off would be attackers, and would likely cause more harm or get themselves killed if they were to attack back.

  3. Fear of escalation. They arm themselves with semi-automatic weapons, so the pirates start attacking with fully automatic weapons. They upgrade to light machine guns, so the pirates upgrade to heavy machine guns. Should a pirate group want to badly enough, they'll spend whatever they need on the appropriate weapons if they feel the future payoff of captured ship cargo would be more than enough to justify carrying bigger and deadlier weapons.

Suggestions to thwart piracy have included better policing of waters along shipping routes, improved tracking and monitoring systems for cargo ships, and improved economic opportunities for perpetrators of piracy to provide both better and safer options for economic stability.


The reason that they didn't have weapons was because at the time the government was refusing to lend weapons to cargo ships because they didn't believe it was appropriate or necessary, even in pirate infested waters. I believe the Captain knew that there was a chance of pirates hijacking his ship also, but he believed that they were slim, or probably 1-3%. And the "skinny pirates" had automatic weapons, even if they're all skinny and boney, they had guns and the crew didn't, so they still held authority.

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