Hijacking: Crew Sues Ship Owner, Operator

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More than half of the former crewmen of the Maersk Alabama have now filed lawsuits against Maersk Line Ltd., the container ship’s owner and operator, and Waterman Steamship – who also operated and crewed the vessel. The suit is in response to an attack on the ship by Somali pirates in April 2009.

Though the ship’s master, Capt. Richard Phillips, was hailed as a hero, 11 former crew members allege that his employers, through Phillips’ actions, put them in critical danger when the ship sailed within about 250 miles of the Somali coast – despite warnings to stay at least 600 miles out because of pirate activity, reports the Journal of Commerce.

The lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama was hoisted aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer to be processed for evidence.

Legal representatives for the crew say they ignored warnings about the possible danger only for financial gain. They are seeking nearly $50 million in damages from Norfolk-based Maersk Line Ltd. and Alabama-based Waterman Steamship.