Today as I was watching this movie”Captain Phillips”, it took me to the similar unfortunate incident happened with us in 2009. I have written this post on my other blog last year and it was chosen as “spicy saturday” by blogadda.
Date: 09 Sep 2009
Time: 12.00 noon
It was a normal routine day. After hours of grinding, all the crew members along with officers including me were salivating on Indian desi food in duty officer’s mess. Sharing sea tales, banters or news from home was regular practice in around the lunch hour. All of a sudden, the duty officer on bridge called for Captain on the speaker which was unusual as amplifiers are used only for specific announcements. Befuddled, we all got alarmed by hearing his panicky voice. Nobody ever anticipated an attack on the area we were sailing. We had almost transited the high risk area and in the safe waters. With bated breadth, everyone waited for the inevitable. Another announcement came within seconds. Our Ship is under attack!!
Our ship BW LION was attacked some 400 nautical miles north-east of the Seychelles. This was the longest range of pirate attack off the Somalia coast ever.
All hell broke loose.Instantly all ran for their muster points.Two other supernumerary congregate and myself on bridge as it was our muster station on emergencies. Using binoculars, I saw two speeding white skiff boats just 10 miles away from our liner. Due to the enormous size of vessel and being loaded with crude oil, we could only increase the speed to some extent. But the skiffs rapidly came towards us.
I looked out of the bridge window and saw one small boat with five black people just 20 yards away. All of them clearly were carrying the rifles. Kudos to the officers including my husband who went away on deck to turn on the water/fire hoses. Within minutes we heard an almighty bang. One of the men carrying a bazooka aimed right at us. The grenade struck one level below. It was the Captain’s day room.The fire alarm went berserk as the rocket propeller pierced into the walls and the entire quarters engulfed in blazes. Few of the crew members scurried towards fire spot with extinguishers to prevent the flames spread across other areas.We heard continuous plunk of bullets.
|Somalian pirates with rocket launchers and AK-47|
The bombardment lasted for more than two hours, and several areas of the ship, including the front bridge area, were damaged by Ak-47 and rocket launchers. Two of the pirates even gestured towards us to stop the engines. But that was out of the question. The only measure was to take evasive actions, repelling the attackers not to board the vessel.
Concurrently a distress call and radio mayday was sent to the office and to international maritime security services. Throughout the two hour ordeal, people from UKMTO were in constant touch and guided us with further actions.
Needless to say we all were scared shit, especially the wives. Our security was the top priority for them. One of the officers was with us at all times. The main intention was to drag the pirates as long till they ran out of fuel to make it to shore. At last after continuous chasing the Master and crew were able to prevent the marauders to board, through a combination of evasive maneuvering, maintaining full sea speed, effective use of water hoses and anti-boarding measures. Also we got air help from the French naval in nick of time.
|Picture captured from air plane during the attack|
We were directed to sail towards the nearest shore possible. We burst into a round of applause and happy tears when were told the pirates had been defeated and now are in safer waters. Everybody took a sigh of relief.
Hours after the chaotic moment’s reality smacked. Not a soul ever wanted to imagine the aftermaths of being captured.Salute to Captain and other officers who showed tremendous courage and professionalism throughout the nightmare.
After signing off from the ship, me and my husband was invited to Singapore office and a lavish party was organized in our honor. I still get goose bumps whenever I revisit the incident. But the black memorabilia is a thing of the past and it had made me more stronger. I do not live in constant fear now and the unpleasant incident certainly does not dissuade me to sail again.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”