A Word for Seafarers from Captain Phillips

Jun 19, 2014

by Douglas B. Stevenson, Director, Center for Seafarers’ Rights

Even though Somali pirates have not captured a ship in more than two years, the effects of piracy on seafarers have not gone away. Recent reports of violent pirate attacks on ships in West Africa and Southeast Asia highlight the dangers that seafarers continue to endure. Somali pirates are still holding 38 seafarers hostage—seafarers they have held for more than three years. Since 2006, pirates have attacked and held hostage more than 5,000 seafarers. 

Assisting and advocating for seafarers affected by piracy remains a high priority for the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI). Our clinical study with Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of the effects of piracy has proven a valuable tool in preparing seafarers and their families for dealing with piracy—with both preventative and therapeutic measures. Unfortunately, many seafarers are reluctant to take advantage of effective therapies to deal with stress-related symptoms because of stigmas against mental healthcare or concerns about future employability.

We asked Captain Richard Phillips for assistance. He immediately agreed to help us help other seafarers by sharing his experiences in a video produced at Trinity Wall Street’s recording studio. Captain Phillips knows firsthand the symptoms that can follow extremely stressful situations, as well as the benefits of therapies to deal with those symptoms. Find an excerpt from his interview in which he encourages seafarers to get the help they need on Trinity’s website here