NORFOLK, Va. — More than half the crew members of a container ship that was at the center of a piracy drama off Somalia in April 2009 are suing for nearly $50 million, contending their captain ignored warnings to sail clear of pirate-infested waters off Africa.

The lawsuits have been filed by 11 crew members aboard the Maersk Alabama, a Norfolk-based ship, the Virginian-Pilot reported Saturday. The five-day standoff ended when Navy SEALs killed three of Capt. Richard Phillips’ captors.

While Phillips was hailed as a hero, his former crew members allege his actions put them in grave danger when the ship sailed within 250 miles of the African coast despite warnings to stay at least 600 miles offshore.

Named in the suits are the owner of the ship, Maersk Line Ltd., and Waterman Steamship Corp. The Alabama company operated and provided the crew for the ship under a contract.

The tense standoff and daring rescue are to be depicted in a film starring Tom Hanks as Phillips, who offered himself as a hostage in exchange for the freedom of his crew and ship.