Bulletin: 'Maersk Alabama' Crew Member Tells of Pirate Ordeal
In an exclusive scoop, the Village Voice has obtained and published an e-mail from a crew member of the Maersk Alabama, written about its seizure by pirates last week. From the Village Voice's description:
"The crewmember tells friends that by the time the pirates had commandeered the bridge, the chief engineer and two other crewmen had taken control of the engine and steering rooms.
The pirates initially captured the captain and three crewmembers on the unsecured bridge. But the rest of the crew was able to flee to the relative safety of the lower parts of the vessel."
Read the crew member's e-mail in its entirety after the jump...
"Everyone on here is okay. We're on our way to Mombasa with
Navy protection on board. Captain Phillips is still hostage in the
lifeboat with the 4 pirates. I hear they're flying out reliefs for
everyone, but I'm not sure what all's going to happen once we get to
Mombasa. Supposedly the FBI is coming out to investigate the crime.
Maybe we'll be on the next CSI Somalia.
I wanted to let you know
some of the lessons we learned so you guys can better prepare
yourselves for something similar. The only guys actually captured by
the pirates were on the bridge: Capt, 3/M, and 2 AB's.
really know why they stayed on the bridge until the pirates got up
there. Then they had keys to everything and were able to unlock
everyone's rooms. The pirates got up to the bridge very quickly once
they were on board. We had a locked cage door over the ladder well from
main deck, but it only took a second for them to shoot it off. They
then got to the bridge up the outside ladders. By that time we had
taken control of the engine and steering down below. Mike stayed in the
ECR and the C/M was out on deck tracking the pirates' movement. We kept
swinging the rudder side to side.The pirates' boat capsized, though I'm
not sure exactly when or what caused it. After about 20 minutes the
engine was killed, I don't know by whom. At that point I shut off the
air bottles and Mike killed power. He was also able to get outside and
trip the fuel shutoff for the EDG.
I think this was critical.The
pirates were very reluctant to go into the dark. We will be looking at
a way to shut off the EDG from the ECR in the future. All the crew had
been mustered and secured in the steering gear. Our pirates didn't have
any grenades, so they would have never been able to break in there. The
previous day we had welded a padeye on the inside of the hatch to the
fantail so it was secured from the inside. The only problem with the
steering gear was the heat and the shortage of water. In the future we
will store food and water in various spots for emergency usage.
think we will also run a fresh water line into the steering gear. We
were able to make a run from the steering gear to the E/R water
fountain and fill up some empty oil sample bottles we had back there.
The C/M was also able to get some fruit and sodas from the galley and
drop them down the line standpipe. The pirates sent the 3/M unescorted
to go look for crew members, so he was able to get away. One of the
pirates then went with an AB down to the E/R to look for people. Mike
was able to jump him in the dark and we took him prisoner in the
steering gear. No one else came down into the E/R. As the day went on
the pirates became desperate to get out of there.There boat was sunk,
and they couldn't get our ship moving.
The Captain talked them
into taking the MOB boat. The three remaining pirates went down in the
MOB boat with Phillips. We were then able to negotiate with them over
the radio. We dropped some food, water and diesel to them. We started
getting the plant back on line. Unfortunately, the MOB boat wouldn't
start. A couple of guys got in the lifeboat and dropped it. They
motored over and traded the lifeboat for the MOB boat.We were supposed
to exchange their guy for the Captain, but they ended up keeping
him.They motored off in the lifeboat. They had no way of getting back
aboard, so we followed them. The Navy showed up a few hours later. We
stayed close by for some time, but then the Navy asked us to head out.
I heard that several other pirate vessels were heading our way and the
Navy wanted us out of the way. That's about it. I'll give you all the
details some other time.
Just to reiterate the most important
points: Have a well fortified location with food and water supply. Kill
all the lights. Leave the alarms going, the noise helped cover our
movements through the house. Flashlights and radios are very handy, as
well as the sound-powered phone.
Anyway, it was a pretty
stressful situation. I have to say I am impressed with how the entire
crew responded. We didn't have anybody who wanted to give up. I'm
pretty confident that Phillips will end up ok. They have to know that
if they kill him they'll be done. I assume the company will be forced
into taking some kind of action to assure our security from now on."
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