Seaman Leendert Schaap - Loading food and disposing of garbage in Salalah

9 July 2012

Last week, after exercising our boarding role many, many times, the call "boarding watch to your stations” was finally sounded for real. We had to take up stations early, because we were going to board a dhow that was suspected of piracy. For me, as a gunner, it was quite an exciting and also a good morning. Fortunately, everything went well. The pirates, after having spent a few days on board our ship, have been handed over to Oman, where they are going to be put on trial.

Sawing through a beam on mid-term day.
Photo courtesy:  Ministry of Defence
Mid-term day
Last Friday was our "mid-term day". That means that we are halfway on our journey. In fact, we were halfway on our mission a week before, but last week's actions to arrest suspected pirates kept us from celebrating it then.
On mid-term day, the commander and the most junior rating together saw through a thick wooden beam, thus metaphorically cutting the mission in half. Various other activities were organised for the crew that day. Every branch came up with a self-invented game, we all ate outside together and at night a movie was shown on the helicopter deck.

All hands to loading food!
Photo courtesty:  Ministry of Defence
"Docking crew to your stations”
Early the next day, at last the call "Docking watch to your stations” sounded from the PA system again! Those assigned to the docking watch assist in the mooring and docking of the ship. I am stationed on the heli deck and assist in placing and removing the gangway.

It was about time for a port visit too, because food supplies were beginning to run out after such a long time at sea. Especially given the fact that we've had several dinners and lunches on board with commanding officers and delegations from other naval ships that we cooperate with. That makes it all the more challenging for the cooks and stewards to succeed in serving the crew a proper meal every day.

Now we are in Salalah, a port in Oman, where the day of our arrival was devoted mainly to loading food and disposing of garbage. You can imagine the amount of garbage that a 230-strong crew accumulates after four weeks at sea. So it was all hands to dumping garbage, and after half an hour the ship was rubbish-free.

Beach football match
On our second day in port, a few colleagues and I got down to some serious relaxing at a beach resort. We also played a beach football match against the crew of South Korean navy ship which is also docked in Salalah. We won, of course!

Today it's my watch and I cooked pasta with Bolognese sauce for the crew. Tomorrow we take to the sea again to continue our mission.