A Sysomos Snapshot: Maersk Alabama

Over the past week, the growing problem of piracy off the coast of Somali was thrust into the spotlight when U.S. Navy Seal snipers killed three pirates who had been holding Richard Phillips, the 53-year-old captain of the Maersk Alabama, hostage in a lifeboat for five days.

The dramatic rescue took place after the pirates were seen holding an assault rifle to the back of Phillips. President Barack Obama authorized the rescue based on the belief that Phillips was in danger of being killed. The snipers were located on the U.S. destroyer Bainbridge, which was towing the lifeboat on a 100-foot line.

To get a better idea of how the Maersk Alabama story was covered by social and traditional media sources, we issued a query using the Media Analytics Platform service.

The graph below shows where coverage took place. As you can see, 64% of it originated from the the United States with a lot of it from California and New York. The Maersk Alabama is a U.S.-flagged cargo ship.


Males accounted for 83% of the coverage, while 36% of the coverage was conducted by people between 36 and 50 years of age.

Coverage began on April 8 when the Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama about 300 miles off Somalia’s coast. The 508-foot ship was on its way to Mombasa, Kenya to deliver food. Coverage peaked on April 12 after the Navy Seal snipers shot the three pirates.


Finally, our Buzz Graph shows the major keywords associated with the story.


Among the leading keywords used are “hostages”, “pirates”, “piracy” and “somali”. The strongest links were between “pirates” and “somali”.

One Comment on “A Sysomos Snapshot: Maersk Alabama”

  1. This is an interesting study of a major news event. I think it would be even more telling if the story timeline was merged with your timeline (2nd graph). Also, a layered graph with each social media source labelled would be useful.

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