Seaman Leendert Schaap- A dhow in distress and fresh fish

Leendert diving.
Photo: Ministry of Defence
"All hands to loading food” sounds from the Evertsen's PA on the day of our departure from Djibouti. That means that the entire crew must help to load fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy products on board for our longer stay at sea.

After port visits to Rota, Istanbul, Aksaz, Jeddah (where I dived for the first time) and Djibouti, we will be spending a prolonged period at sea, so that's why we need to take on a fair supply of food!

Our extensive training and exercises have prepared us for every situation: our mission is finally about to begin for real. For me, this means that at any time I may have to take my position as a gunner of the Force Protection team.

Assisted by our radar and our on-board helicopter, keeping a vigilant watch of the sea around us, we patrol the waters off the Somali coast looking for pirates. We also use RHIBs (fast motorboats) to reach close to the shore to be able to question fishermen and crews of other local boats. In this way, we try to get a clear picture of the situation in the area.

Leendert behind his weapon.
 Photo: Ministry of Defence
‘Normal' day
A ‘normal' day for me begins with an inspection and, if necessary, maintenance of my weapon. After that we get to work in the galley, cooking up a tasty meal for the crew. Lunch is ready at 11 o' clock, and after giving the galley a clean-up, we have some time to ourselves. I usually do a bit of workout or relax for a while. In the afternoon, if I have no firing or other exercises to do, we make snacks for the evening dish and prepare food for tomorrow's meal. In the evening, we have some free time that I often use to work out or to watch a movie.

Dhow in distress
After spending a few days at sea, we receive a distress call from a boat in the area. A local boat (a so-called dhow) loaded with cargo has engine trouble and is adrift at sea.

HNLMS Evertsen towing the dhow.
Photo: Ministry of Defence
Although it is strictly speaking not part of our mission, of course, being navy, we are going to help these people. Technical service crew members were flown to the dhow with the helicopter and tried to fix the engine. Unfortunately, the problem was not easy to solve and we had to tow the boat to a calmer and less dangerous part of the sea.

Fresh fish

Leendert filleting fish.
Photo: Ministry of Defence
Some colleagues used the opportunity to catch fish from the dhow. Before joining the Navy, I worked in the fisheries, filleting fish among other things. And that's how some of the crew got the chance to enjoy a nice piece of fresh fish!