N.O. Merchant Marines use “Captain Phillips” movie to draw attention to their plight

While moviegoers will be riveted by the new action film “Captain Phillips” when it opens in theaters Friday, real-life merchant mariners are warning of trouble ahead. They are meeting at a big convention in New Orleans this week.

They are less concerned about pirates on the high seas than about a less-obvious danger: Congress, they warn, has reduced funding for the U.S. Merchant Marine fleet, and that means thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of American jobs could soon go away.

Many of those jobs are based at the Port of New Orleans, according to merchant mariner Captain Klaus Luhta.

“The Port of New Orleans will feel it directly,” Captain Luhta tells WGNO News. “This port thrives on the maritime industry. They’ll feel a direct effect across the country because of it.”

Merchant mariners are pressuring Congress to keep full funding afloat, but that’s a rather tough sell when Congress is currently at a standstill in a budget showdown.

Meanwhile, the movie “Captain Phillips” opens in New Orleans theaters Friday.