For those in peril on the sea

Judy and I both came reeling out of Greenwich Picture House having had 134 minutes of harassing maritime drama. ‘Captain Phillips’ is a modern day sea thriller filmed on a modern day container ship attacked by Somali pirates along the Horn of Africa. it’s a true story of MV Maersk Alabama – a Dutch owned ship but flying the Stars and Stripes – sailing out of a Gulf sea port packed to the gunnels with containers into the calm but troubled Somali coast en route for Mombasa.

capt philips001

Filmed mostly on board (in the Med off Malta) it portrays a small crew boxed into cramped living conditions at the stern of this massive ship – crewed with a cross section of sea going folk going about their repetitive if not tedious business – an insight indeed not often portrayed. Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Captain Phillips is remarkable – his supporting cast of crew and pirates play out an amazing high tension drama of the hi jacking and inevitable rescue – take your Kwells.

The reality of the isolation of mariners and even lighthouse keepers reminded me of my national service experience on board a troop ship some sixty years ago!!  The captain of the Empire Fowey thought that it was his duty to take the ship close inshore to sound out a greeting klaxon to cheer up the light house keeper in his isolation high above us on the Isle of Socotra just where the ‘Alabama’ would have passed. For us it must have pre-echoed the similar crowded conditions on board the US Navy ships which were involved in the film’s dramatic rescue. Go and see the film – it’s a must.

Even more sobering on Sunday 10th November at 10,30 an annual service of remembrance for seafarers will be held on Tower Hill when my good friend Tony Braithwaite – a proud seafarer will lay a wreath at the Merchant Navy memorial high above the Pool of London.


About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

One response to “For those in peril on the sea”

  1. Sheila Macrae says :

    Peter
    I do so enjoy your blog and your wonderful way of telling and illustrating each item. Thank you for taking the time to do it. Please keep it up! And Tony please be sure to keep all of these posts online and perhaps one day in old-fashioned hard copy as well.
    I am prompted to comment on this particular blog as I was amazed to read that you served in the Empire Fowey. In 1951, with my parents and young sister, I sailed on that troopship from UK to Aden, where my father was posted in the RAF. Perhaps you were on the same voyage!? I still have a small white metal bowl engraved H.M.T. Empire Fowey. I wonder if any museum would appreciate having it?
    Best wishes
    Sheila

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