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.

I don't

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.

I

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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