An Irish American kid from Boston was being hailed as a hero today after leading his unarmed crew to regain control of their ship which had been attacked by pirates in Somalia.

Boston officer Shane Murphy was second-in-command of the Maersk Alabama when it was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia on Wednesday. He assumed command of the ship after Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage in a lifeboat.

And it seems that the pirates might have picked on the wrong ship this time as Murphy is well-steeped in anti-pirate tactics.

Murphy's father, Professor Joseph Murphy, teaches a course in how to repel pirates at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and his son is a graduate of the academy.

Murphy senior would not reveal what sort of tactics his son might have used but he said Shane would have had a very clear plan to deal with the pirates.

Ship crews do not carry firearms as it is believed that they increase the risk of death and injury.

The crew alerted the US navy and disabled the boat's engine before the pirates took control of the ship. When the pirates boarded, they took one captive and hid on the boat for 12 hours giving the US navy time to send the US destroyer USS Bainbridge to help.

By this stage the pirates had fled to the Alabama's lifeboat with the captain as hostage and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that the pirates' lifeboat was apparently out of gas. On Thursday, the USS Bainbridge arrived near the Maersk Alabama and the lifeboat with the pirates and Phillips.

Murphy, who is married with two children, aged 3 and 3 months, delivered a lecture anti-pirate tactics shortly before setting sail on the Maersk Alabama.

He recently wrote on his Facebook page, “These waters are infested with pirates that hijack ships daily. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before my number comes up.”

Murphy, whose mother Marianne wanted him to be a lawyer, had a walk-on part in the Kevin Costner movie, “Thirteen Days”, about the Cuban missile crisis.

He played a ship’s radio officer in the film and he later joked with his mother that he should have played the role of President Kennedy – “I’m handsome and Irish,” he said.

He might not get to play JFK but it's a fair bet that someone's casting now for an actor to play hero Shane Murphy in a real-life pirate movie.