Welcome Aboard Mariners Alike - Malaysia Rule The Waves

its hard to describe how a man could left everything he had on land and went out to sea...
its even harder to describe how bright the stars at night and how fresh the cool morning air when you are in the middle of the ocean...
the hardest thing is to describe how close you are to death and how god could took your life at any time...
come to sea and see for yourself...


come to sea and see for yourself

this blog is dedicated to mariners,navigators and seafarers alike, merchant or naval for others to had a glimpse of what we do and what we faced in the vast blue oceans.

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Thank you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the story of watchkeeping officer - oh crap..pirates!! - part 1

this is truly fictional.got nothing to do with anyone involved in the hijacking of our tankers years ago or any other incidents.it just plain fiction.

this guy might be the coolest pirate in the gulf..check out his ray-ban

Abdel Umar walks towards the seas with fishing nets in hand. He is in mid 40`s tall and dark wearing the same worn out clothes when he went out to seas. He got into a small skiff with his eldest son Ali. The skiff is owned by the village chief, who had at least 50 of them which is loaned to the villagers for fishing purposes.Working as a fishermen since childhood, its the only way for Abdel Umar to support his family of 8.

Abdel Umar had heard stories from other village where a man had become rich overnight. From a small hut it turned into a mansion with luxury car and bodyguards and satellite television and electric generator and refrigerator, the things he dreamed of having.He was curious but he dare not to seek the answer.

600 miles from the African continent, a 50 000 deadweight chemical tanker MT Malaysian Development carrying palm oil products from Pasir Gudang to various port in Europe. She was registered in Port Klang and managed by the nation 4th largest shipping consortium. She had Malaysian and Filipino crew manning her.

Captain Alex Cheang is the master of the vessel. The master is hailed from Penang, a 32 years old man who went trough the ranks real fast.Next to him a young third officer, Aziran Rudy whom were fresh from college and exams in less than a year.He hailed from the state of Sabah of Bajau Laut origins where his ancestors were also seafarers.

Both were scanning the horizon for any signs of suspicious craft. Traffic were not dense but a number of ships coming down and overtaking them is a sign that this is a regular shipping lane. The AB and cadet were posted outside on the bridge wing to watch the back.

"this area is notorious for pirates 3rd...don't keep your guards down.Keep the radar on and check on different range scale time after time..."

"yes sir..i will do that"

"anything call me lad..i`ll be downstairs"

The Natalya 32 is a large trawler where it had been waiting for the right prey for almost three days. Slightly different from regular Somali trawler, this one were built in Ukraine, hence it was hijacked by the pirates weeks ago with its crew were tossed in to the sea leaving their fate in hands of god and fishes. The skipper is known as Sheikh among his followers. Equipped with radiocommunication equipment,radar and GPS, the pirate mothership is capable of operating as far as 700 miles from the coast.

The men were heavily armed militia with experience in fighting against the government and international forces during the civil war. Today might be thier lucky day. A low freeboard vessel was spotted some 20 miles from their position. The men were called up to get ready for game hunting.

3rd officer Aziran made a log entry for 1900H and plotted the ship position. He went to the radar to scan the vicinity of any risk of collision and suspicious craft if there is any close by. Twilight sets in and the world fell into darkness. Navigation lights were the only indication for mariners to identify ships during the olden days but its importance is still highly regarded within the industry although one can determine a ship type trough AIS (automatic identification systems) and radar spot any vessels within its operating range even before the human eye could have a glimpse of the lights these days.

 Malaysian Development steamed trough the Indian Ocean at her service speed of 11 knots. Fully loaded with oleochemical products, she had a low freeboard thus making her an easy prey for pirates. Anti-piracy measures were implemented by rigging up fire hoses with high pressure water jet pointed towards embarkation points. The deck were purposely left slippery and all access were secured from inside. Still this measure couldnt stop any 7.62mm rounds or a rocket propelled grenade strafing on hundreds of ships in the past few years.

Natalya 32 follows her prey from 13 nautical miles distance. She had been shadowing the tanker for an hour and slowly catching up. The boarding crew prepared themselves with grappling hook attached to polypropelene, similarly used by the special forces unit to climb up from the ship side but lack of quality. But they dont need funky spec ops gadget because the are trained to use anything they can, even rigid ladder that being used at home to change lightbulb were once among their tool of the trade.

The Sheikh signalled the speed boat crew to cast off from Natalya 32 and proceed with the operation. 5 speed boat were launched by Natalya 32, 9 miles away from MT Malaysian Development.

The blips on radar shows a small object, probably a fishing boat at 11 nautical miles from the ship bearing 163 degree true. Its been there for an hour but the presence of the cloud had prevented the officer to determined whether its an object or an echo. He went to the port side bridge wing to scan the horizon. His cadet were doing the same thing.Nothing were sighted and the absence of celestial objects had made the condition worst.

Feeling uneasy, the officer went to call his master...

"Good evening sir..i think i got a suspicious craft shadowing us..no visual contact but they appear on radar sir.."

".....ok..im coming up..keep looking 3rd..i`ll be there in a moment"

The cadet saw a flickering light somewhere between the bearing indicated by radar. He had a good look there when he saw a shadow of a craft where the light flickered just then. He saw the light again and confirm the unknown craft visually. The master was acknowledged.

"He saw it visually sir.." said the officer.

"I bet its a mother ship cause no ship that small went out here for fishing..unless they were fishing ships and not fish..we need to increase speed 3rd..i`ll took over your conn."

"you have the conn, sir.." the officer answered him.The changeover of conn were noted in the log for record.

"change to manual steering and increase speed..lets outrun these bastards..."

"changeover to manual steering,sir..heading 295 steady..."the AB replied..

"..rpm increase to 110...speed now 12.5 knots increasing.."

"Inform the crew 3rd...tell them to make sure the ship is secure.If the doors are locked check again.Locked them again.Im going back for christmas this year and make damn sure were are going back..."

The master alerted the head office in Kuala Lumpur by setting off the SSAS (ship security alert system) while the cadet were instructed to broadcast emergency messages to all stations. The signal were received by the MRCC and the Head Office in seconds.

The 5 speedboat came up from behind MT Malaysian Development. One of the men threw the grappling hook from below and did it in one shot. In less than 2 minutes 3 men had boarded the ship. Their rifles and RPG`s were brought up later using ropes. Another boat came alongside and the men went up to the ship.
They signalled Natalya 32 using radio walkie talkie confirming the success of boarding the ship without anyone noticing. The men went up to the bridge trough access outside the accomodation.

The ship chief officer saw the men on the boat deck and called bridge to inform the master. The crew gathered in the lounge where its the safest place to be in this time. The chief officer made another sweep around the ship to make sure all access were locked from inside.

The staircase leading to the bridge were rigged with firehose in case of emergency. The AB went outside to turn the hydrant on when the pirate start shooting against him. Under fire he turned the hydrant to the fullest and the staircase were directed by high pressure water jet, to preventing anyone trying to get to the bridge.

More speedboat came alongside with more men occupying the ship exterior while waiting their mothership to come much closer . Natalya 32 was 3 nautical miles away from MT Malaysian Development when she was strafed by heavy machine gun fire from the trawler. The sea was a bit rough and the shots missed the bridge. More shots were fired but MT Malaysia Development is not giving up just yet.

"Captain..stop the ship or we will fire towards you..we have loads of rockets and im not going to hesitate to use it on your ship captain..please captain..stop.."

"God damnit now i have to stop for him..? who the hell is this guy...a tan sri or something..?"

Thinking that the master didnt take that word, the Sheikh decided its time to react. He ordered his men to shoot RPG toward the ship hull and this they did causing loud explosion on the starboard side of the ship. Luckily it hit the ballast tank and not the fuel tank.

Evasive manouvre were made but it is fruitless since the pirates are already onboard. But the ship still need to be save from gun and rocket fire. Another rocket were shot at and it hit the accomodation instead.

"While we still in control of the ship, no matter how many shots they fire im not going to surrender the ship..!!" said the Captain Alex.

80 miles from MT Malaysian Development, RMN taskforce received the emergency broadcast trough Inmarsat and MF/HF DSC. The taskforce consist of the navy logistic warship KD Mahawangsa and escorted by a Lekiu class frigate and a Kedah class NGPV. Two helicopters were stationed on both escort ship while navy special operation unit stationed on the Mahawangsa. 

"..shots were fired..possibly rockets and helluva guns strafing at us...requesting immediate assistance...I said again this is MT Malaysian Development..callsign nine mike echo foxtrot six..."

"My god...that is at least 800 miles from shore.."

"The FOC had been acknowledged by the shipping company and we have a go ahead from the CN...awaiting your orders sir..?"

"Get KD Lekiu to steam ahead to the scene..."

KD Lekiu is a frigate of the RMN with speed up to 30 knots. Equipped with helicopter landing and hangar facilities she went to assist the MT Malaysian Development. A Super Lynx helicopter crew and a naval special ops personnel were also onboard this warship. She went at full speed to render assistance.

Meanwhile the EU-NAVFOR taskforce who also received the emergency broadcast had dispatch a frigate which operating close to the RMN taskforce and a C-130 H from Manama,Dubai to assist in the rescue operation.

The Sheikh ordered the man to blast one of the door at the accomodation to gain entry. A man with a RPG do just that, firing the rocket at the starboard side weathertight door of the accomodation. However the shot didnt budge the door which is still intact. Being furious, the Sheikh went to the .50 fixation and start shooting at the door. Tracer fire can bee seen as far as 14 miles by other ships but they can only watch and avoid from being another victim.

The master still had his ship under his control and underway. MT Malaysian Development emergency broadcast had been answered by the RMN and EU-NAVFOR taskforce. It has been 2 hours since the pirates came onboard and ths ship suffer a considerable damage due to battering from the guns and rockets.

Feeling unsatisfied the Sheikh decided that he had to lead the men on the ship to gain control. It has been too long and help might be on the way. He ordered the helmsmen to alongside with the speedboat. He went onboard with 4 armed men. He went to the door that he blasted with guns just now to see whether it can be torn down. He took an RPG and start firing again towards the hinges. Two shots fired and the door came down like nothing.

The pirates went inside in two group, one group to the engine room while another went up to the bridge.

The master were informed that the pirates had broken trough by the chief officer. The engine were stopped. The engine room were taken over and the duty engineer were taken hostage. The pirates also ransacked all the cabins to find any valueable items, taking them as loot. The crew were herded to the bridge by the pirates and they took control of the ship after 2 and a half hours of struggle.

The captain now faced the Sheikh.

- end of chapter one -

-come to sea and see for yourself-

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