Piracy Today: Modern Terror on the High Seas to Open at Nauticus

As a companion exhibit to Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship, Nauticus and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum have created Piracy Today: Modern Terror on the High Seas, which examines modern piracy and its connection to Hampton Roads. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the actual Maersk Alabama lifeboat -- on loan from the Navy Seal Museum in Florida -- from which Navy personnel rescued Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in April 2009.

The exhibit also features graphics and videos that detail the coordinated efforts of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to protect our ships, sailors and marine natural resources from harm on the high seas. Piracy Today: Modern Terror on the High Seas is included in the ticket price for Real Pirates, which also includes regular admission to Nauticus.

The story behind the Maersk Alabama lifeboat is an amazing one. On April 8, 2009, the Maersk Alabama was on its way to Mombasa, Kenya, with a load of food aid when it was overtaken 350 miles off the coast of Somalia. These waters normally were considered safe from pirate patrols. With his crew locked in the engine room for safety, Captain Richard Phillips offered himself as a hostage to his attackers in exchange for the safety of his crew. It was the first time in more than 200 years that a U.S. flagged ship had been captured by pirates.

In a dramatic turn of events, the crew members managed to capture one of the four pirates, but released him in a failed hostage trade. Rather than letting the captain go as agreed, the pirates took Phillips with them onto the ship's 28-foot lifeboat, where they would remain for days. On April 9, after the arrival of the USS Bainbridge on the scene, Captain Phillips attempted escape by jumping out of the lifeboat, but was quickly recaptured.

On Easter Sunday, April 12, Navy SEAL snipers opened fire on three of the pirates in the lifeboat after seeing one of them level an AK-47 at Captain Phillip's back. A fourth pirate, aboard the USS Bainbridge at the time negotiating for Phillip's release, was taken into immediate custody.

Real Pirates and Piracy Today: Modern Terror on the High Seas will be on display in the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center November 21, 2009, through April 4, 2010. Admission is $18.95 for adults, $14.95 for children ages 4 – 12 and free for three and under. Nauticus members admission is $12.95. Group rates are available for groups of 15 and over. Timed tickets can be purchased in advance via Ticketmaster, by calling 1-866-448-7849 or at Nauticus Admissions. Admission includes both special exhibits as well as general admission to Nauticus. For more information, call (757) 664-1000 or 1-800-664-1080. For groups, contract rates or educational packages, call (757) 664-1021.

Posted on 11 Dec 2009