Seaman Leendert Schaap--On Board the Evertsen

Small Caliber Training while Underway

After a long time of preparation HNLMS Evertsen is ready for departure in the port of Den Helder. It is leaving to Somalia to participate in the Operation Ocean Shield. The last refreshments, like milk and vegetables are being taken onboard. Everywhere people are saying goodbye to their relatives and the press is also present to speak to the commanding officer, but also crewmembers about the upcoming mission. For me this is my first mission. My family from Katwijk came along to wave me goodbye. Saying goodbye is never easy and the grey weather is in accordance with the moment.

Directly after the goodbyes of families and friends we start with all standard safety procedures, that every ship has to perform just after departure. First we check our abandon ship procedures, where everyone must abandon the ship safely according to a certain plan to their life-rafts. Furthermore we practise fire-fighting on board. The nice thing about all these exercise is the variety of the work.

On board everyone has to do extra chores next to their regular job. In the navy we call this roles. My daytime job is cooking for the approximately 230 people on the ship, but during this mission I am also one of the gunners outside. As a cook I am being judged daily on the quality of my work. By serving a good meal everyday, we contribute to a good atmosphere on board.

Quickly after departure we also start training for our mission. For this mission we have some extra capabilities with us, like Royal Netherlands Marines and a helicopter with their crew. Together these two units are of utmost importance for counter piracy operations. When the threat increases I am stationed behind a Mag (a big machine gun) and I am in direct contact with the bridge, from where I receive my orders.

Together with the marines and the helicopter on this outward journey there are a lot of exercises planned, with lots of shooting to get our skills at a high level, which is necessary for a successful mission. All necessary scenarios are being trained, like freeing a highjacked ship, questioning fishing boats, investigating suspected ships and the interception of pirates.

After a few days at sea we enter our first port, Rota in the south of Spain. This port visit is mostly used for loading fuel and other logistics, but also some rest and recreation can be used. I myself have visited the nearby town of Sevilla.

After our visit to Rota we immediately train our counter piracy exercises, and get better and better along the way.

Duties in the galley continue.

Besides all exercises and practices my normal job as cook still continues. For the logistic department the next port of Istanbul is going to be a busy one. This port visit is mainly meant for the 400 year Turkish Netherlands commercial relations. A lot of secretaries and representatives of Dutch and Turkish companies came on board.
Together with my collegeaus in the galley, other logistic personnel and other crewmembers we have tried to be representative for the Netherlands. We did this by serving receptions, lunches and diners. I am under the impression we succeeded. All together it has been a busy first few weeks, and than I also had an very special day. For the first time of my life I celebrated my birthday at sea.

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