I tried to post this yesterday but now I have better proof I am here. Proof: http://i.imgur.com/6AOvPxY.jpg 10 days ago: http://i.imgur.com/gu9nehg.jpg Sorry for terrible picture quality.

We are now heading south from Egypt towards the high risk waters between Somalia and Yemen. Bsics: I'm male 20 and British. I am an Engineer Officer. I am Civilian. We have many nationalities on board.

Note: Responses may take some time but I will do my best.

Comments: 147 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

middledeer23 karma

Do you prefer blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping your buffalo wings?

JustLongEnoughToFit16 karma

Cheese always the Cheese. I love the question that goes to the far side of the word anything.

TheLastSovietSniper19 karma

Maritime security contractor here. Don't worry about it. Most confrontations with pirates end as soon as soon as they see a security team with weapons. It should be noted that most pirates are desperate ex-fishermen just trying to make a quick buck. However, there are also the hardened professionals who are a little ballsier. That being said, they're not terrorists or revolutionaries. They don't want to die for a cause; they want to get rich and not die trying. Just by having a security team aboard (I don't suppose it's Bowline Defense and you just picked up a big french fellow by the name of Valerie?) you're pretty damn safe. We're all ex-military, with better weapons and equipment. They're (again, no generalizations) mostly amateurs with old AK-47s. There may be the occasional RPG-7, but those have a range of what, 300m? It’s a policy to shoot them on sight, but we'd rather not. They are human beings after all. Yet, when it comes down to it, we'll be ready to make the decision to kill to defend. Don't be concerned about that either. As someone who's crawled through barbed wire, I can say it's a bitch. You (should) have it around the entire perimeter of your vessel. That bobs up and down. Right there they'll have some difficulty getting aboard. Assuming they actually get that close, because remember, there is a team of trained paramilitary professionals on-board. And if they do get aboard, again, trained paramilitary professionals to deal with. And you'll be in the citadel meantime. If it is a Bowline Defense team with you, I can assure you that you are protected by professionals that take the work very seriously, and they will do their very best to protect you and the rest of the crew. Relax. Do your work, watch movies in your free time, but never worry. We've got your back.

JustLongEnoughToFit5 karma

Greetings nice to hear that our guys don't have weapons they just have... infact I don't know what they have except eyes the captain was complaining over dinner that we are one of the few to not have armed guys recently. No frenchmen 3 from Sri Lanka I don't doubt their capability and as you say they are looking for a quick hop and go and I am aware of the situation why thats why I don't hate them like say terrorists etc. I had enough trouble moving the fencing without hurting myself wouldn't want to climb it.

TheLastSovietSniper5 karma

Wow, I"m really suprised they're not armed. Are you certain? Anyway, be carfeful. The sea be a cruel and treacherous bitch. Yarr. So far I've seen two sides two this type of situation. I'd love to see a somali pirate pose a question. (Probably be along the lines.of "where are you, what's your sailing plan and what do you have on board). Also, you have internet onboard? That's pretty sweet.

JustLongEnoughToFit3 karma

Well that seems to be the case but not known for sure. Haha maybe I'd like to hear their side properly I mean not like news report just his version of events. Yea good old satellite.

TheLastSovietSniper1 karma

Well, a good lot of them (at least in the beginning) were fishermen. Then huge Chinese trawlers started fishing off Somali waters, and other countries started dumping waste, toxic and otherwise. This caused significant drops in the fish population off the Somali coast. Desperate, fishermen turned to pirating. Today, its a whole industry. Even if there where fish, I doubt most would go back. A pirate can be set for a lifetime by a successful venture.

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Yea poor blokes and the anti piracy industry is huge aswell.

TheLastSovietSniper1 karma

Yeah, but it's own success is shooting itself in the foot. It's already not what it used to be, money making wise. Too many fended off pirate attacks. The industry will die down and then there'll be a series of big attacks, and then it'll get better again.

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Was talking to the 2/E today he joined recently he was on the ship from this company that was hijacked this time last year. They locked down in the engine room himself and the fitter welded the non blast door shut and waited they spent 33 hours in the engine room before being released.

TheLastSovietSniper1 karma

Holy crap. That's terrible. That's why there should always be provisions and water are stored in the citadel.

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Our check list says 15 days worth of water and food. And 50 cartons of fags of at least 5 different types cus if you are a smoker in a stress situation you want a fag I'm fine I don't smoke and seem to be the only one here who doesn't.

Barrien11 karma

From a US Navy sailor who's done an anti-piracy deployment(back in 2010), stay safe out there man. Remember, the international task-force that's out there is always listening on BTB channel 16, but you gotta call 'em for them to come help you. Can't even describe the number of times we'd hear about a ship that got pirated not even 60 miles away from us that we never even heard from.

Now, a question: Do you guys do drills onboard for anti-piracy? Like what you would all do in case of an attack, etc?

JustLongEnoughToFit8 karma

We do have drills yes and as far as I'm concerned its the same as drill for any other emergency muster in the ECR and wait for instructions other crew members have different roles for different things but I'm engine room stand by

sunilmaraj10 karma

whats your pay check like?

JustLongEnoughToFit6 karma

at the moment crap but once I complete 1 contract here it goes up to good pay for my level so I can wait

towbeear7 karma

Have you been through pirate waters before?

JustLongEnoughToFit4 karma

Nope first time I'm not sure how I feel about it to be honest little aprehensive

Scrub_Life2 karma

I think I remember reading something about there being no pirate attacks in a year or so due to increased security. Best of luck anyways!

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

It may well be so but if it's cus of the security its best to keep it up I think

HooglyBoogly5 karma

What is the most nerve-racking thing before going into one of these missions?

JustLongEnoughToFit9 karma

That is a toss up between joining my first ever ship and trying to fix a broken anchor winch on the forward deck in less than ideal conditions as it was a rush job i.e. do it now or we are in the shit. There are a lot of things that happen to remind you to be careful now and then like carrying something with both hands and the ship gives you just a nudge into the nearest bulkhead to remind you to wake up.

mask26974 karma

What do you plan to do if you see the black pearl?

JustLongEnoughToFit8 karma

As I would be a low ranking unnamed extra hide cus they never last long in proceedings

blame_the_parents13 karma

Hey, it's great to finally hear a post from someone in the Merchant Navy on the front page!

I too was fortunate enough to be able to experience travelling through the suez canal last summer as a deck officer cadet on a Taiwanese container ship!

I can see from your pictures that your on a bulk carrier vessel, which are reasonably fast vessels (although not as good as containerships with a top speed of 20+ knots!)

In terms of what I saw when on watch (and I went through the Suez canal 4 times in one trip so also the pirate area) was sadly not a lot. We saw one suspicious looking fishing boat with 3 Somalian's on it with what was possible to be carrying guns. The boat approached on our port beam but just simply couldn't catch up and got thrown around in our wake!

If anything is to happen, don't worry the amount of attacks has gone down massively in the past 5 years (especially in China where pirate attacks are almost entirely gone! ) One of my lecturer's said might have something to do with a major pirate boss in Somalia retiring!

If anything is to happen you'll be happy to hear that there are lots of militia naval ships of all nationalities within 30 nautical miles and as soon as the bridge team contacts them a helicopter is dispatched immediately to attend to any goings on!

On our ship we had our own pirate defences and got to assist in putting up the razor wire all around the ship (this is razor wire not barbed wire, I have a scar on my leg from how sharp it is!) The boson (maintenance guy on ship) might also put on hoses around the weather deck which fire's pressured sea water out as well to make the pirate's life harder.

The whole of the superstructure of the vessels (the part the crew, officers, engineers live and sleep in as well as the bridge and galley) should be locked down so no one can get in from the outside. The bridge team as you mentioned is in strict watch (I as a cadet spent 4 hours straight pacing up and down without stopping and was told to constantly check RADAR, ECDIS systems and ARPA.)

This is usually done until out of the charted hot spot but you should be happy to know that a lot of companies give their officers and engineers a small bonus for operating in these areas! The amount of time and precautions are up to the Master's discretion but trust me you're in great hands (as long as your officer's and Master are competent!) Enjoy the sun! We never really got to see our engineers come out on deck!

TL:DR- Currently a 21 year old deck cadet who's served on a containership giving his salty sea knowledge on pirate watches.

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

It's good to see it from your side I have to go onto watches in the enginer room so you wouldn't have seen a lot of them in that time. Never trust an engineer with a tan it means they have either just been on holiday or aren't working in the ER. We have razor wire for when we are in Morocco and places like that to stop guys stowing away.

yepimajerk3 karma

Can I stay in contact with you?

I've lived and worked on the water my entire life (I've lived on boats more than land.) I used to fish on grouper boats all the time, and would always see the ships passing by, and have always wanted to work on them.

Did you have to go to one of the academies to get the job? I've got a few more questions, if you don't mind me private messaging you, but I was literally walking out the door when I saw this on the screen.

JustLongEnoughToFit3 karma

PM me of course no problem fill your boots mate I need something to stop this unholy boredom

limbodog3 karma

Hiya, and welcome.

May I ask if you've taken precautions? I understand that you're not allowed weapons on board due to port restrictions.

JustLongEnoughToFit12 karma

We have in fact not more than 2 hours ago we just took on a whole new set of security screens which are basically barbed wire mesh to put up around entire open deck. We also have a security team who we picked up this morning and have constant watches out of each bridge wing to look out. We have a citadel for if we are boarded which ha provisions enough for 15 days. Emergency satalite phones, large drums to block security doors. This company had a ship hijacked last year which they got back 48 hours later crew unharmed although a little shaken.

Some ships can carry weapons but it is not advisable as it makes the pirates more likely to harm the crew.

CravesPowder2 karma

as it makes the pirates more likely to harm the crew.

Err, wouldn't shooting the pirates make them much less likely to harm the crew?

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

Shooting them wouldn't but shooting at them and not getting them would. This is not my experience saying this it is simply the companies reason for not having weapons

limbodog1 karma

A citadel? Basically a hardened room onboard? Would it be sufficient to stop an RPG?

JustLongEnoughToFit5 karma

Yea big thick steel doors etc and I doubt it maybe once but once they are onboard firing an RPG that close would kill them aswell. they tend to fire the RPG at the stern of the ship near the propeller to stop the ship this inevitably means at the area where the engine room is so I hope I'm not in the control room when that happens.

limbodog2 karma

Good luck to you!

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

Thank you :)

SIR_Sergeant3 karma

Are there any Navy ships from a friendly nation in the area?

JustLongEnoughToFit3 karma

yup there are a few

nashuanuke3 karma

Nobody cares anymore, piracy is all but dead here. Now the Gulf of Guinea, that's dangerous. Btw, I'm the current operations officer for a counter piracy coalition force. Oh yeah, monsoons are up too, so they can't board your ship anyways because of the sea state.

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

Ah good stuff although can't be arsed with the weather

marketmelon773 karma

What are your daily tasks and what type of training or schooling prepared you for this job? Thanks.

JustLongEnoughToFit6 karma

At my level at the bottom of the officers list my jobs include measuring and recording tank levels for oil/fuel/water etc. Incinerating rubbish and waste oil. Caring for sewage plant. maintaining air compressors and fuel and oil purifiers (they remove water). Being on watch in the HRAs and duty engineer 1 night in every 3.

I did just over 3 years of training at college within which there was 7 months of sea time as a cadet. In the UK these schemes require you to have a sponsor company as they cost upwards of 9k a year. More than 50% of starters drop out before then end.

too_lazy_2_punctuate3 karma

Considering there has not been any attempted piracy in somalian waters in just over a year, do you feel like they are making a big deal out of nothing on your ship?

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

I don't know if thats true or not as I have been a little preoccupied to look anything up but if that is the case I still don't think it's a bad thing that it is still protected in areas where it has happened cus thats all well and good saying that but its little comfort if you are hijacked.

cacti1472 karma


I was on the USS Ingraham in 2005 when we went through the Suez Canal, such a memorable experience.

We also patrolled the coast of Somalia when the rest of the squadron continued into the Gulf. We had 1 small boat train its gun on us for about 3 minutes. That was a rush, i was standing forward lookout when that happened.

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Nice one I will have to read that some other time but I will read it at some stage.

spawls2 karma

I've been through pirate areas three times now and chased once, not to worry you, just to say we outran them easily. What kind of vessel are you on?

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

Nice to "meet" you. We are dry bulk.

founditundertheseat2 karma

what's your salary?

JustLongEnoughToFit3 karma

ATM poor but it jumps considerably in next contract to $31kP/A

recourse91 karma


JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Per Anum (a year)

Dabs_in_SF2 karma

What do you guys eat on board because of the different nationalities? Do you guys eat separately?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

We have 1 cook he is Filipino and the only seperation is the crew and officers mess otherwise it's the same. Although the Arabic guys seem to get a bit iffy when the europeans eat pork but thats their thing I don't know why.

recourse92 karma

Really you don't know? Eating of pork is against the teachings of Islam (jews as well).

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

I had a hunch but wasn't 100% sure

jimbossa2 karma

I thought merchant navies belonged to their respective nations and are effectively servicemen. How are there multiple nationalities on board?

What exactly are you guys tasked to do in the Somali waters?

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

Nope Merchant Navy is a generic term for ships that provide services and ship cargo etc 90+% of everything that is shipped from somewhere to somewhere is by sea. Therefore it is all civilian and so you work for whoever you like, you work for the ship owners not the flag as most flags are a tax dodging method anyway. There is a large contingent of Ukrainian guy about the place at the moment in general and I'd say 85-90% of ships have Filipino crewmen in the lower ranks. We are passing through taking cargo to UAE.


What Maritime College did you goto? I've just finished at Warsash :)

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

Yes Warsash dam that place.


Haha biggest shithole ever!

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Not half with the likes of Perry and G.W to make life difficult in their own unique ways


Fucking Perry Reid. Made my entire phase 3 a nightmare. Big Greg Wheatstone was a massive bellend also, you could each ask him the same question and get different answers. I also had oral prep with that clown.

JustLongEnoughToFit2 karma

Ah yest the GW you must know this constant. The term given to information handed down by the big man that "YOU MUST KNOW" which is subsequently never asked by anyone for what could be the entirety of your sea going career. Also the GW date phenomenon where by aforementioned info is so out of date remembering it is wasting vital storage space inside ones brain.

OneofYourFiveaDay1 karma

Just got my cadetship sorted for september. Any advice? Which college did you attend?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

I was at warsash feel free to PM me and ask whatever you want

bobokittyfuck1 karma

Hello fellow Navy Engineer.

What kind of flags have you sailed under?

And i read that due to security personnel pirate activity has dropped a lot in the area since 2011. Stay safe

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

So far Malta, Cyprus and Liberia all the same really

Greenouttatheworld1 karma

the most pertinent question for this AMA, dude are you still there. do give reddit a shoutout if you see boats approaching :P

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Yup we are just finnishing off things like putting the oxygen and acetylene bottles for welding into the engineroom from the deck store etc.

tofu2u21 karma

Where did you go to school?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma


MrBanana62611 karma

Just a simple question: Are you scared?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

I wouldn't say I'm worrying all the time but I'm certainly far less comfortable than I was a few weeks ago. So on a scale of 1-10 I'd say I'm probably about 6 or 7.

DeMiNe01 karma

How much are you getting paid on this trip?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

in total $2000 for 4 months graft so its piss poor

Cup_uv_Noodles1 karma

Are you armed?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma


DeHart6661 karma

Does opsec not apply to merchant ships?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

I don't know what that is so I can't say

DeHart6661 karma

Operational security. Keeping your location a secret so enemies can't find you. It's a huge deal in the USN.

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Ah right well thats military isn't it you can find the position of any merchant ship if you have AIS software and if they are in near land on websites like marine traffic so it's not really a bit deal

DriedUpSquid1 karma

I've sailed those waters a couple of times myself. The pirates never messed with my boat. Maybe it was the 80+ fighter aircraft and the seal team on board. Or it may have been the laser-guided CWIS guns surrounding the ship. Who knows?

JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

Hmmm could be that yea

[deleted]0 karma


JustLongEnoughToFit1 karma

uhh, what?

thecroseph-1 karma

After seeing a movie trailer about pirates taking over a large ship, I cannot help but to question the legitimacy behind this.

JustLongEnoughToFit4 karma

I wondered when there would be a movie about it I thought it would take a few more years though. Its gonna be total bullshit I expect.

Are you saying you question if I really am going where I say I am well if so I'm sorry you don't believe me but I feel no need to go out of my way to convince you of what is happening. No offence

thecroseph0 karma

Not at all OP, verification just allows visual proof and can sometimes spark interesting questions. If you were to take a picture of your ship, or the procedures that you guys are taking to ensure safety, then the reddit community would probably enjoy it a lot more.

JustLongEnoughToFit6 karma

Ah I see well the security screens aren't up yet and aren't likely to be for a day or two you can check the ship name on marinetraffic.com (I think its that now) It is Abu Al Abyad.

thecroseph1 karma

Not much info, but thanks for the verification. Do you and your crew currently have a plan to execute on the chance that you are boarded? I noticed you are on a fairly larger ship, does this make you feel uneasy knowing that you are a larger target?

JustLongEnoughToFit3 karma

Yea hide. Not really a larger ship we are middle of the road really there are much bigger ones out there.

Hoyata21-1 karma

Somali American here, sorry to break it to you but the pirate industry is over. Fyi it started because many companies were dumping toxic waste in our shours, which happen to be the largest in africa. Yes it started as a Nobel effort to protect our coast, but unfortunately it didn't end that way

JustLongEnoughToFit7 karma

"sorry to break it to you" strange choice of words there and Yea I appreciate why it all started and I get why it is happening and its sad and wrong that it even got that far but I don't have to like it.

Hoyata21-6 karma

Op was being a drama queen making the situation seem dangerous when it's not

JustLongEnoughToFit4 karma

I'm not going to change your mind I can tell but a few things I would like to say in response to that as this is a discussion. firstly if the people who are in a much better placed position to decide if boosting security etc round here is worth it then it probably is especially with their unwillingness to spend cash like all companies. second until it stops being referred to as a high risk area it's still something to at least acknowledge while the ship is there. third this job is dangerous enough on it's own regardless of where you are. I though it would promote a discussion about something I'm not looking for an aww poor you if I want that I have plenty of people at home who do that and it makes me feel uncomfortable I don't want it from strangers too.

hl4-2 karma

It's Somali not "Somalian".

JustLongEnoughToFit12 karma

My bad but you still knew what I meant

handofbod-3 karma

Do you really think this breech of OPSEC is worth the karma?

Monco1238 karma

Yeah because r/Mogadishu is a very active community. A lot of boats pass through these waters on a hourly basis, it's not exactly earth shattering news.

JustLongEnoughToFit4 karma

and if you have the internet all you need to do is log onto one of the marine traffic sites and bam live updates of who is there and going to where from where

JustLongEnoughToFit6 karma

who what?

freemarket27-11 karma

Similar to how political leaders in Washington did not care if the US troops in Benghazi lived or not, do you think the owners of your ship care whether you make it thru ?

JustLongEnoughToFit3 karma

They do indeed last year one of the sister ships was hijacked the first thing negotiated was the safe return of the crew then after that the return of the ship. They say to us we can build more ships so we got the crew out first. I think it's more for corporate image and so hiring more people when we all move on or whatever isn't as hard if you are the company that lost a full ships crew you are not gonna find hiring easy. But I'm ok with this.