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A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea is a book by Captain Richard Phillips, the captain of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama when it was hijacked in 2009.[1][2][3][4] It was written with Stephan Talty and published by Hyperion on April 6, 2010 (and on audio by Tantor).

A Captain's Duty
Richard Phillips - A Captain's Duty Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea.jpeg
Hardcover edition
Author Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty
Country United States
Language English
Subject Piracy
Genre Non-Fiction
Publisher Hyperion Books
Publication date
April 6, 2010
Media type Hardcover
Pages 304 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4013-2380-6
OCLC 674694313

The book tells the story of Phillips' capture and hostage-taking by Somali pirates in April 2009. It alternates between his five-day ordeal and the plight of his family in Vermont, watching the drama unfold on cable news. ABC News reported that the publication of his book coincided with a rise in concern about piracy.[4]


Phillips was a mariner of 30 years' experience when his ship was taken. He took extensive security precautions to keep his crew safe and hidden, leaving himself as the only possible hostage. This led to an ordeal of several days in a lifeboat in the hands of pirates, whom Phillips portrays as alternately conciliatory, vicious, and unfocused.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy assembled a large task force, and tensions steadily rose, as did Phillips’ fear for his life. The book details Phillips' attempted escape and eventual rescue by U.S. Navy SEALs, and portrays Phillips' wife Andrea as loyal and strong-willed.

Film AdaptationEdit

Columbia Pictures optioned the book and acquired the life rights to Phillips in spring 2009.[5] In March 2011, it was announced that Barkhad Abdi would star as the lead Somali pirate, Tom Hanks would star as Phillips and Faysal Ahmed as Najee in a Columbia film based on the hijacking and Phillips's book, scripted by Billy Ray, and produced by the team behind The Social Network.[5] The film, entitled Captain Phillips, was released in October 11, 2013 to widespread critical acclaim.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Richard Phillips; Stephan Talty (2010). A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea. Hyperion Books. ISBN 978-1-4013-2380-6. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  2. ^ Bob Minzesheimer (2010-04-04). "Richard Phillips recalls 'Days at Sea' as pirates' hostage". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  3. ^ John Curran (2010-04-01). "Rescued sea captain writes book on hostage drama". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2010-04-07. 
  4. ^ a b Mark Mooney (2010-04-06). "Captain's Book Details How He Foiled and Infuriated Somali Pirates: Chief Mate Faked Radio Conversation With U.S. Navy to Scare Off Pirates". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-04-07. Phillips' account comes as pirate activity in the Indian Ocean appears to be escalating along with more attempts to fight off the pirates. Just this week, a South Korean warship is pursuing a supertanker grabbed by pirates that is loaded with $160 million worth of crude oil. 
  5. ^ a b Kit, Borys. "Tom Hanks to Play Capt. Richard Phillips in Somali Pirate Hostage Story," Hollywood Reporter (March 15, 2011).