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Father Of Crew Member Sees 'Murphy's Law' At Work

Richard Phillips and his second in command, Shane Murphy, are graduates of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.

WBUR talked with the father of the Maersk Alabama's chief officer.

Joe Murphy sees some irony in his son's situation.

"That's Murphy's Law, isn't it," Joe Murphy says. "I teach maritime security. I have my son come in to talk about it and then he gets hijacked."

The elder Murphy has been a professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy for nearly a quarter of a century.

He teaches future mariners how to defend a ship from pirates using small arms including handguns, rifles and shotguns.

Just two weeks ago, Murphy had his son Shane speak to his students about life on the high seas and about the the very real danger of pirates.

"He was here to try and give them some hands-on experience," Murphy explains. "We can teach them knowledge — I can't teach them experience, as to what they can expect.

"He made it abundantly clear that this is a day to day activity, that it's increasing, that it's not going to stop, and that potentially you can have a real serious problem in very short order."

Joe Murphy says lessons in ship security intensified after 9/11. And the threats from pirates are in no way like the romanticized images of swashbuckling marauders.

I would agree that everybody has the Johnny Depp kind of concept that these are the Pirates of the Carribbean," Murphy says. "They're not. These are hardened criminals, and you know they're not above using any tactic to achieve the means that they have intended."

Murphy says maritime piracy is evolving, and the counter-tactics that mariners utilize are in response to what is taking place on the sea.

This program aired on April 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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