Monday, June 1, 2009

A look life aboard a warship chasing pirates

Dan Lett, a journalist with the Winnipeg Free Press, has been writing a number of interesting pieces from aboard the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg, which is currently on patrol off the Horn of Africa (HoA). Yesterday he posted a lengthy one that gives you some perspectives on what the crew of the warship is going through on their mission there. (You can read it by clicking here.)

I especially liked the way he talked about every day being a Monday when you're at sea. The routines required to keep a vessel - naval or civilian - operating smoothly are often overlooked. But there's a definite effect that these have on anti-piracy measures, particularly with professional mariners.

When a cargo ship is transiting the pirate-infested waters of the HoA, they're often in the middle of journey, when fatigue can be taking its toll on the crew. And with current crewing levels, there's the added burden of having to do a number of tasks while working and still hoping to catch some sleep when off duty. People wonder why pirates can get close to a vessel, but it's not a wonder when you remember the crews of targeted ships are often tired. Adrenalin only goes so far and one can only maintain a clear head for so long. The issue of crewing levels on merchant ships in waters like the HoA needs to be addressed.

And speaking of fatigue, I'd like to thank those who tuned in to my weekend appearance on the radio show Coast To Coast AM, with host Ian Punnett. It was more than worth it to stay up all night and engage in an interesting chat with Ian, and with those callers who got through. But, man, I am still bagged.


Ken E Beck said...

Interesting read, thanks. Very true what you say about fatigue. 48 hrs of pirate watches really knocks the crew back.

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