for obvious reasons I can't identify the company I work for, but I work on Very Large Crude Carriers (Oil)

Proof sent to mods! 23:37 UTC: time for sleep! I'll be back around 07:00 UTC and will answer all of your questions!

I'm back, but boy, that sure escalated quickly, not sure if I can keep up with all of the questions, stand by for answers

Comments: 1564 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

Han_SoBro444 karma

Would SOPA have made your job easier?

wolf8668261 karma

mmmmmm, no

Feb_29_Guy363 karma

But it says Stop Piracy right there in the name!

wolf866834 karma

Firewall offers no protection against automatic weapons

kpeters920265 karma

Have pirates ever tried to board you guys? if so... being in international waters, what's the procedure for defending yourself?

wolf8668416 karma

One boat opened fire on us, we had few suspicious approaches. Before we go into piracy infested areas we set up razor wire around the ship as well as sandbags on bridge wings, we rig fire hoses over the side and we brief the crew on the procedures, If we suspect the attack then non-essential crew is mustered in so-called citadel (a place that would be hard to get into in case pirates boarded) and we increase the speed to full ahead while making odd manoeuvres so that pirates have difficulties coming alongside.

gurry970 karma

we rig fire hoses over the side

I couldn't help but think you do this so the pirates will think they've found a "rope" with which to board the ship--then you turn on the water and they go flinging around while Yakety Sax plays over your PA speakers.

wolf8668639 karma

It would be worth taking a bullet just to see this.

jag8728324 karma

The Citadel? Not a good place to be when the Reapers invade.

wolf8668302 karma

ohhh you

BridgetteBane233 karma

"Odd manuevers" makes me think of outlandish behavior to confuse and discourage the pirates, like flinging poo, wearing cocktail dresses before 6pm, and even perhaps the occasional game of Tickle the Bosun...

wolf8668167 karma

manoeuvres, as in manoeuvring the ship. and i was never good at tickle the Boatswain

NuclearWookie93 karma

Why can't you just shoot at them if they attack you? I thought rules against piracy were still pretty outdated and thus brutal.

wolf8668149 karma

It is all changed now, with UN and the IMO, it is unclear what we are allowed and what we are not allowed to do, laws were rewritten in 1920s when piracy was no longer an issue.

gconsier76 karma

I was going to ask what your thoughts were on Blackwater's anti piracy service, but in looking it up I found this. Now it's not so much a question, but posting of something interesting I just learned.

wolf866883 karma

this is exactly why it is so hard to protect ships from the pirates these days

gconsier100 karma

Thanks for answering. I know it seems so simple from my living room sitting behind a laptop in Chicago, but it just seems to me this shouldn't be so complicated. I realize international water law is its own thing and it seems very complicated and very contradictory in a # of ways... Not to mention all the different laws in all the different ports.

I just seems to me that it is ludicrous that ships are not allowed to carry adequate arms to defend themselves from somewhat minor threats such as pirates. Let's be honest for one of us a .50 BMG sounds like a big scary gun (I have shot them myself) but in the grand scheme of things when we are talking about Naval guns it is a pea shooter. The ability to have guns up to and including .50 BMG I imagine would be an appropriate response to pirates, but it would not give the ability for a tanker or container ship to take over small countries or do battle with naval gun boats or aircraft carriers.

I can't see why they cannot install a locked safe area with only approved people such as the captain and a few trusted officers having access to open and retrieve weapons from. When in port the weapons are locked up safely and the ports know and expect this.

Perhaps world powers should consult me, I could probably solve a lot of their problems. Hear that world powers? I am here if you need me. :)

Edit: Fixed it. Not sure why I said "thanks for asking" when I meant "answering"

wolf8668109 karma

International law is fucked up business and if there is one thing about it is this: Nobody cares about international law

[deleted]39 karma


wolf866868 karma

technically you could sweep it under the rug but if anyone finds out then you will go to prison for a looong time

MRobley195 karma

Before you had armed guards, did your company allow crew members to carry firearms?

wolf8668222 karma

Absolutely not, even though most of us had military training.

Lalfy122 karma

Company policy? or Maritime Law?

wolf8668195 karma

Company policy and UK flag state Law

GoSomaliPirates189 karma


wolf8668143 karma


mattpga120 karma

Have you ever docked in the Pirate Bay?

wolf8668125 karma

I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you

jaskamiin103 karma

A few quick ones if you don't mind:

What kind of vessels do they typically attack in? Are they speedboat type little-things or more like yacht-size? How many are in a group?

How many times have you encountered/been attacked? Have they ever boarded?

What kind of damage would fire hoses really do to a group of armed pirates?

Are attacks more common at night than in day?

wolf8668137 karma

Usually there is a big mother vessel (sometimes yacht, sometimes another hijacked vessel) that carries the skiffs far into the territorial waters, when they see appropriate vessel (they look at speed and free board) they launch the skiffs, little plastic speed boats with ladders. I have been shot at once, we had few suspicious approaches with weapons. Fire hoses would do no damage, but they would make it difficult to come alongside. Attacks by day are most common, night attacks are pretty much unheard of.

jaskamiin80 karma

Hm. You'd think that it'd be easier and more covert to try to board a ship at night time..

Are you allowed to carry a weapon yourself?

wolf8668109 karma

Currently I am not allowed, only in real emergency armed guard would lend me his side arm, but to answer your question, no

wizy57162 karma

Imagine you're being followed by a suspicious boat and they get too close and open fire, your friend, Joseph, turns around screams:"WOLF!" and as you turn around tosses you his sidearm and then POV starts up as you shove Cortana in the back of your head while you let out a hail of bullets on your assailants. Bad-ass material right there.

wolf8668115 karma

i literally laughed out loud. I should probably hit the gym more just to fit into this mental image

CrunkCow96 karma

What do you do for fun during downtime?

wolf8668221 karma

I write e-mails to friends and family, do leftover work, hit the gym, play some games, sing karaoke with Filipinos (every fucking Friday), drink copious amounts of cheap booze. If in port I go out, see places, visit bars etc. local places of interests

MLBM100108 karma

karaoke with Filipinos every Friday? I am so fucking jealous.

wolf8668197 karma


EngineRoom2348 karma

Could you elaborate on some of the choicer moments?

wolf8668183 karma

messman undressed bollock naked and started dancing around, when he tried to put his pants back on, the other filipinos wouldn't let him

CrunkCow53 karma

Does the ship have an internet connection? Or do you have to do it while in port?

wolf866891 karma

Some ships do, some ships don't. Most major shipping companies now do supply internet on board, mine is still lagging behind, so we do it in port! However we do have access to e-mail 24/7

Walking_Punchline44 karma

How do you get email access sans internet?

wolf866851 karma

e-mail yes, internet no, but my company is the exception, most of the other oil majors have internet access on board

ThatWrinkledForeskin48 karma

What he meant to say was probably, how can you e-mail if there is no internet connection? Since e-mail requires an internet connection. My best guess would be there is somehow an internet connection, via sattelite or radio(?) but it's really slow and expensive therefore the company only allows its employees to e-mail and not browse reddit 24/7

wolf866893 karma

ahh, ok, to clarify, we do have satellite internet on board, however HTML is not allowed, just e-mail, because it is expensive, the technology is here, the money is not

Whenthenighthascome31 karma


wolf866878 karma

sometimes in port if you get lucky ;) usually when you go home, company lets you stay 2 days in hotel before your flight, 2 nights in Bangkok or Singapore can get all the women you need. But yeah, unless you are on cruise ships you will be looking only at projections of females.

omega69799 karma

2 nights in Bangkok... and the world's your oyster?

wolf8668157 karma

2 nights in Bangkok for absolutely free, no hotel fees, free food and flights, in total I've visited 29 countries and about 120 cities (I keep the tally) and I'm still very young, haven't paid a dime for it

sjhill96 karma

Do you have armed security on ship when you're traversing these pirate ridden areas?

What do you do as a deck officer day to day? How long are you at sea for?

wolf8668171 karma

Yes, my company has only recently started employing armed guards on board after one of our vessels was boarded and pretty much demolished (fortunately naval vessel managed to eliminate the pirates before they got to the crew) My day to day duties are, two four hour watches where I take command of the ship, set courses, plot positions, take care of the communications etc usually I spend extra 2 hours on deck doing odd little maintenance jobs. During cargo operations I make sure that things go smoothly and we can get out as soon as we can. My contracts last 3 months which is followed by 3 months of holiday, so I work 6 months a year (and still get paid YEAH)

DougBolivar62 karma

Do you access reddit on board?

wolf866886 karma

sometimes, rarely

[deleted]48 karma


wolf866872 karma

You a degree from a maritime academy, completed 12 months cadetship, STCW basic and advanced courses and health checks, any ship specific certificates. Most of the guards are ex-marines or soldiers of some sort.

[deleted]30 karma


wolf866841 karma

sometimes I do, sometimes I don't usually either them or me are busy. I would tell you a million stories but i really need to go to sleep :P

ttspam84 karma

What sort of weapons do pirates use and how would they board a ship from a tiny motorboat? I don't know much about firearms, but I guess they use something bigger than ordinary pistols and climbing aboard a massive containership seems pretty difficult.

BTW, thanks for doing this. I have a lot of respect for you seafaring folks. Has to be a tough life sometimes.

wolf8668116 karma

AK-47, G3 rifles and RPG-7 with shaped charged warheads, machetes if they get on board

Megatron_McLargeHuge72 karma

How much damage would an RPG do if they fired at the hull near the waterline? That is, can they just threaten to sink the ship if you resist, or don't they have the firepower?

wolf8668263 karma

absolutely none, hardly any damage, even if ballast tank is punctured multiple times there is no risk to the stability of the vessel, they can't carry enough ammo to sink the ship

Ziminrax28 karma

Why do they carry them if they don't do much to the ship?

Also, how are the calm / rough waters usually?

wolf8668136 karma

calm seas are like a mirror, tranquil, rough is when a wall of water that is larger than your ship suddenly grows in front of your ship, like fucking inception

ttspam34 karma

Yeah, but how will they get on board of a massive ship that is going at full speed?

wolf866886 karma

most ships are not that fast even at full speed, maybe 18 knots max, while that skiff can do 30 easily, pirates usually attack on calm days, so that boarding is easier

PedobearsBloodyCock41 karma

I think he's asking how they actually get up in the ship because of the large freeboard.

wolf8668287 karma

long ladders with hooks on top and grappling hooks, they go all batman on us, they skiffs are trying match our speed then attach ladders and board

SeriousBlack49 karma

Pics of the deck of the ship or something? I'd like some proof even if you don't say what company you work for

wolf8668108 karma

SeriousBlack44 karma

I was thinking the deck or something that most people wouldn't be able to get a picture of unless they were actually on the ship

wolf8668162 karma how about this one? sorry about the finger :P

AlekhinesGun82 karma

That looks really tranquil.

wolf866891 karma

that was a good day

blemersons40 karma

What does your worst day look like (weather-wise)?

wolf8668159 karma

Waves hit the bridge, shit is rolling so much that you can't put anything on the table, it is difficult to stand, and you can feel your breakfast trying to make a run for it, you can see fuck all, standing on deck is physically impossible because of the wind. If anything on deck is not welded then... well then it is not on deck anymore

jjswee39 karma

Makes you really appreciate the good days doesn't it?

wolf866869 karma

yes, I appreciate the days when my found is not jumping out of my mouth and I can sleep without flying off the bed (the worst thing.

robinhoodthefox37 karma

Is that green path ever used for exercise? It looks like it'd make a good track.

wolf866867 karma

It sure is! (no kidding)

robinhoodthefox21 karma

I used to read these books about a sort of vigilante paramilitary force that policed the seas, and I believe that in one book there was a tanker captain that would have moped races around the perimeter of the ship. Every do anything crazy like that?

wolf86687 karma

we have bicycles but no races so far, someone would get killed

jjswee16 karma

What are all the pipes for?

wolf866867 karma

cargo transfer, this is an oil tanker, we use them to pump stuff in and out, some of the pipes carry water for FF system, others hydraulics for the cranes.

reddittwotimes46 karma

I understand that your company now employs armed guards but I'm curious to know why they didn't allow you to carry firearms before they hired the armed guards or even now as additional safety.

wolf866887 karma

It is hard to answer, maybe because if we get weapons and there is some sort of accident, for example we are getting robbed in port, and we shoot someone, then we as direct employees would put the company in a difficult position while armed guards are sub-contracted and that other company takes all liability.

reddittwotimes32 karma

Thank you. If you did not have armed guards, would you ever consider carrying hidden firearms for your own safety at the risk of losing your job but saving your life if you ever had to use them?

wolf8668110 karma

I would not only loose my job but I would be charged with arms smuggling and probably would never come out of prison

reddittwotimes42 karma

Wow, enough said! Thanks for answering.

wolf866841 karma

no prob

Vromrig35 karma

Would you be willing to do a remake of the Captain Jack Sparrow song featuring yourself and your crew.

Bonus points if featuring real pirates.

wolf866842 karma

I'm on land at the moment but I will think about it

EngineRoom2333 karma

It would give the Filipinos something to do!

wolf866825 karma

so satisfying!

h1lts35 karma

Do you get some extra payment for sailing in these waters, compared to people on other VLCCs from the same company that arent sailing in piracy ridden areas?

Do you feel safer on a VLCC than you would on for example a container ship or a PSV? (I have no idea which vessels are more lucrative for the pirates, but cargo from containers may actually be useful for them if they cant get a ransom for the ship and cargo, no?)

How many years have you been sailing as a deck officer, and what kind of vessels have you been sailing on?

wolf866875 karma

I get double daily salary when sailing in piracy waters, I think most of people get that sort of deal. Container ships are the safest because they can simply outrun the skiffs (they are fucking FAST) VLCC in ballast condition is pretty much safe because of the massive freeboard, but if we are loaded then we as exposed as any other vessel at speed of 18 knots. PSV vessels are the easiest prey, slow and with low freeboard so they often fall into pirate hands. I've been in the industry for about 4 years now (still young) I have been on PSV, Cruise ships, container ships, ferries, bulk carriers and currently tankers.

h1lts26 karma

Double daily salary sounds reasonable.

Thats a lot of ships for 4 years. 2 of them as cadet? Guessing you arent on 6 or 8 weeks on\off?

Got a year left on my education before I can start to sail as a deck cadet, and havent really decided what type of vessel I want to sail on. What type of vessel do you prefer?

wolf866863 karma

Correct. I'm on 3 months on, 3 months off. Tankers are neat and the salary is good, PSV is fantastic but you don't get to travel, Cruise ships are fun but the salary is shit, but the women... try to get as many types as you can, then you can see by yourself.

erock054635 karma

Read your post on the video, and I had questions.

So, piracy exists, but from your perspective has it increased?

Do you have any friends that have been boarded? Or anyone who was hurt during a board?

I want your perspective basically.

When pirates board, are they looking for hostages or the cargo?

wolf866867 karma

It is increasing year after year, more and more vessels are getting attacked or approached. I have one friend that was a 2nd mate on a vessel that was boarded, the chief officer from that vessel is still suffering PTSD to this day (it was over a year ago) and one seaman was shot in the leg. When pirates board they usually hijack the whole vessel and go to somalia where they contact the company and demand ransom for the crew and the vessel.

erock054622 karma

Wow, so it's kind of like go big or go home? I hope your friend is ok.

Well, I'm not going out on the ocean any time soon.

wolf866858 karma

95% of oceans are safe, just that little spot... nothing to be afraid of

erock054616 karma

Well that's good to know. I was half joking, I do recreational scuba diving in Florida when I have the time.

wolf866849 karma

I drive 333 meters long beasts in high seas, pretty much same stuff ^ but i did some diving when i was in the Med

lippindots31 karma

Might be a bit of an obvious answer for some, but if you were to personally take a gun and shoot/kill a boarding pirate, would you get off scott free being in international waters?

wolf866857 karma

that depends, they would be an investigation for sure, It would cause me problems (like where i got the weapon) but I probably would not go to jail, once again it is hard to tell with international law being like it is

aniota99 karma

I'm sure the glorious Somalian government would bring you to justice using their extensive international influence.

wolf866853 karma

you would be surprised...

efraim15 karma

Who investigates fatal shootings on international waters?

wolf866838 karma

usual the flag state of the vessel that did the shooting, also their insurer, MAIB, at some point IMO

Arcon133728 karma

This is more of a personal question, do you get scared? I mean, you're in the middle of nowhere and all of the sudden you could be kidnapped and held for randsom.

Do you have freinds and family who are aware of this and how do they feel about it?

Do you feel more safer with armed guards posted on board, or are pirates still a huge threat.

You also mentioned an RPG, earlier. Have you heard of any extreme cases of explosives or incidents?

Thanks for your time, it's incredible to get some insight when it's rarely shared on the media.

wolf866836 karma

I feel much safer with an armed guard on board. And I have to say that I don't get scared, not that I am trying to sound like a badass but there is so much/work going on that you are already stressed out with other matters. Obviously not on any of my vessels, otherwise I would be dead, but I've heard about one tanker that got hit with an RPG and opened up like a can of sardines because they were carrying jet fuel. Can't verify. Sounds possible.

Arcon133722 karma

Side question, what kind of stuff does your vessel ship?

wolf866848 karma

Crude Oil, the black gold, in massive amounts

CatsBoobiesAndStuff25 karma

Can the ship that employ armed guards be retro fitted with like 50 cal machine guns?

wolf866852 karma

In some cases they are, especially with greek charterers, but not your usual 50 cal but russian 12.7 mm NSVT

TheOmegaHeadstone25 karma

Engine officer here. Are you American? If so which school did you go to?

wolf866861 karma

Born in Poland, living in the UK, graduated from Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton.


Are pirates more likely to attack on a foggy day, or any time there's low visibility? How large of groups do they usually attack in?

wolf866850 karma

usually there are 3 or 4 skiffs and the mother vessel in the background, they usually attack in perfect weather, it is easier to board that way. they have been employing a new tactic of swarming when 30 or 40 little boats approach you and all of them are firing at you, not pleasant

roflbbq75 karma

No body likes zerging. Assholes..

wolf86688 karma

apologise for playing that Nation!

disco_biscuit22 karma

  • What are your typical routes (ports specifically if that wouldn't be too much detail)?

  • What is your nationality?

  • How did you get into this field? Were you in your nation's Navy?

  • Have you ever worked on a ship that has passenger cabins (not a cruise ship, but a merchant vessel that allows civilians to come along)? If so, what's that like?

  • Better or worse to work on a cruise ship v. cargo vessel?

  • Why the fuck to pirates go after a crude oil carrier? Do they think they're going to load up a few barrels of crude and sell it?

  • What's the best and worst thing about being at sea for so long / as a career?

Thank you for your time and answers!

wolf866834 karma

A port near Rio in Brazil, through Cape, to Persian Gulf and various oil terminals there, then to China and back the same way to Brazil. I was born in Poland but I was raised in the UK, graduated from the Maritime Academy there and joined the British Merchant Navy. I never got around doing the British passport, being in the EU it is all the same. I've joined the academy straight out of high school, did my cadetship, graduated, and then got a job as a deck officer, quite simple really. All cargo vessels can take 12 passengers but it is unusual to have any, people don' do that no more. Cruise ships are very specific, if you love women, booze and party then cruise ships are definitely for you! Pirates are not interested in cargo, they hijack the vessel and then ransom the crew. The best thing is excitement (this job is rarely boring), travelling, good salary, bad sides, no internet (except e-mail), long periods away from home, a lot of responsibility for such a young guy like me, stress.

[deleted]22 karma

How much does it cost to go as a passenger in a cargo vessel? Can you still work your passage like in the old days?

wolf866813 karma

yes you can, it depends on individual offer, my company has none like this so you'd have look around

OperatorMike20 karma

Can you hire my friends and me as armed security?

wolf866816 karma

I'm afraid that I don't have nearly enough power to do so ;)

masonbehnke17 karma

What's the biggest attack that has ever happened on a ship you've been on?

wolf866842 karma

A skiff started shooting at us at night, strangely it was in South China Sea where piracy is rare, the bullet hit the window, the rivet that was holding it shot of and hit me in the arm. it was automatic fire, we went full ahead, fired flares and they aborted what looked like an attack

whatremix14 karma

I'm assuming that most pirates would get onboard via grappling hooks with ropes attached, right? Would it be easy to simply cut the rope while a pirate was trying to board the ship? What about stun guns to deter pirates from boarding? I'm sure these scenarios are over-simplified in my mind, but I'm curious to hear your perspective.

wolf866848 karma

If you are willing to run under fire and from automatic weapons and RPGs to cut a piece of rope on the railing on the side of the ship where the pirates have a clear shot then be my guest, it would be a suicide. Sometimes we use electrified fence around the vessel, best stun gun ever.

CSFFlame16 karma

Does the fence thing actually work?

wolf866862 karma

not reallly

Whenthenighthascome14 karma

Have you seen The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou?

wolf866812 karma

that I have

lev00r13 karma

What are your security measures? Do you radio for help? Or do you have private contractors on board to keep you safe? And if you're boat is boarded by pirates then what?

wolf866828 karma

We usually carry armed guards on board (contractors), additionally we rig fire hoses and razor wire as well we have established procedures to do if attack happens. If pirates are on board you either A, escape to the citadel and lock yourself in and hope that navy gets on board before they get into your citadel B. surrender

JaybeGaming45 karma


wolf866824 karma

that's one way to look at it