"Captain Phillips" screening rivets Norfolk audience

Captain PhillipsOCTOBER 10, 2013 — A preview of the movie Captain Phillips was shown at Nauticus in downtown Norfolk, VA, this week to a riveted audience of 350 guests of Maersk Line, Limited (MLL).

Pictured inside the theater at Nauticus (left to right): John Reinhart, Mayor Paul Fraim, Andrea Phillips, and Capt. Frank Castellano

Leaders from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, NATO, the maritime industry, and the greater Norfolk community attended a reception and special screening of the film. The evening was a tribute and thanks to those who helped bring Capt. Richard Phillips safely home.

Capt. Phillips was master of Maersk Alabama, the MLL containership attacked by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa in April 2009, and spent five days as a hostage of the pirates before being rescued.

The incident has numerous connections to the greater Norfolk community. Norfolk is Maersk Alabama's home port and the headquarters of MLL, the largest employer of American merchant mariners in international trade. The USS Bainbridge is based at Naval Station Norfolk, and the Navy SEAL Team, which saved Capt. Phillips from the pirates, is based in the area.

Part of the movie was filmed in the Atlantic Ocean off Virginia Beach.

"We are pleased to have had the opportunity to again thank the Navy, SEALs, and greater Norfolk community for their support," said John F. Reinhart, MLL's president and CEO. "The film captures the intensity of the crisis, and it brought back memories of those days four years ago that captured the world's attention.

"It also shows the resolve and courage of American seafarers, and the film hopefully reminds many Americans and moviegoers worldwide that the U.S. remains a maritime nation with a strong merchant marine and Navy worth protecting during this challenging fiscal crisis within the federal government."

The Maersk Alabama is a part of U.S. maritime history, the first U.S. ship to be boarded by pirates in roughly 200 years, and the movie has the ability to raise public awareness of the importance of U.S. flag commercial shipping.

MLL assisted Sony Pictures and director Paul Greengrass by hosting them on visits to Maersk vessels and helping them understand technical matters and daily life on a containership. MLL also aided the filmmakers in chartering one of the Alabama's sister ships, the Alexander Maersk, to use in the filming.

Before watching the movie, Mr. Reinhart introduced several of the evening's distinguished guests, including Andrea Phillips, her son, Dan, and daughter, Mariah; Capt. Frank Castellano, commanding officer of the USS Bainbridge during the rescue; Admiral Jean-Paul Paloméros, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation; Vice Admiral Robert C. Parker, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Atlantic Area; and Mayor Paul Fraim of Norfolk. About 30 sailors from the USS Bainbridge attended the reception and screening.

Andrea Phillips and Capt. Castellano shared their thoughts on the actual rescue and film with the media before the reception. "I will say as he would say - the real heroes are the Navy," explained Mrs. Phillips. "The Navy SEALS, you know those young men and women that came to our aid, his aid, actually, and did their job and did it very, very well."

"What we see [in the movie] is the honor, courage, and commitment of our sailors day in and day out and that was shown during the incident," said Capt. Castellano. "I have so many stories of what my sailors did to accomplish mission to bring Captain Richard Phillips safely back to his family."

This week's screening was the second Norfolk reunion of the key players in the Maersk Alabama incident. In November 2009, Capt. Phillips visited the Bainbridge while it was docked at Nauticus and thanked Capt. Castellano and the crew for rescuing him