And so the fun begins…
We were in Jedda for a few days and the town is very commercialized with all of your normal restaurants (minus the alcohol since it is a dry country 🙁 ), and the people are a few years behind the curve. Women are forbidden to drive in Jedda. A few days before we pulled in a woman was arrested because she drove her car, video taped it, and posted the video on the youtube. The authorities were at her doorstep shortly after, because her husband turned her in and she is now in jail.
Unfortunately we were restricted to the pier for security purposes so we could not go out and explore (I have a feeling it is because they couldn’t let women go out in the town), but we were alongside another American ship (a cruiser which one of my roommates is stationed on), and he came over and we watched Hall Pass the second night.
The best part of it all is one of the female officers I am friends with had to be put up in the commanding officer’s at sea cabin, which is a second stateroom for the CO right off of the bridge so he can sleep up there during strenuous evolutions so he is readily available if needed. Our captain rarely uses his and we were tight on room so our navigator was put in there for about the first two months of our deployment. She allowed me to hang out in there whenever I felt like it since it had outside line phone lines, a computer, one bed, and its own head (bathroom).
I of course took full advantage, and used to go up there all the time when she had watch. While in Jedda, and restricted to the pier with nothing to do, the CO’s at sea cabin became our regular hang out spot.
The weather is unbearable over here with the humidity just pressing upon us. I can’t wear my glasses outside because they fog up instantly and then I can’t see for a good 5 minutes till they warm up to the air. The temperatures are at 105 degrees, I can feel the burns creeping along my neck and arms within minutes of standing outside.
I was an Officer of the Deck for the peak of the hot weather so that wasn’t very fun especially since I still had my uniform on… and a gun.
After we pulled out of Jedda we made a quick stop in Djibouti for about 5 hours to bring a detachment of personnel onboard, all medical related. They are using my torpedo magazine holder as their surgeon room. At frist I was opposed to the idea and now I’m mutual. They brought 11 huge boxes of stuff on board which I had to help coordinate getting to the flight deck from the aft missile deck where it was craned on.
At 105 degrees, it wasn’t enjoyable. I make my guys hydrate in the mornings when I see them so they don’t get too hot. Its blistering. This medical detachment is the reason we are not crossing the equator and I am not very happy about it. We are no longer going to the SEYCHELLES, an island right off of the coast of Africa next to Mauritius, which I was really really looking forward to.
This makes me upset in many ways, the most being that I wanted to become a shell-back on this ship. Becoming a Shell-back in the Navy, is a ritual performed when you cross the equator for the first time. There’s still hope but now that the Seychelles was taken off the schedule the odds are very small.
We transited Bab el Mendeb after leaving Djibouti and I was hoping for something exciting like the straits of Gibraltor but I didn’t find it out there. After the Bab el Mendeb comes the Gulf of Aden, known to us Navy folk as the GOA. The piracy rate is very high here. I was watching merchants on the big eyes and they have started taking very big precautions to stop their ships from being taken over.
One of the ships had barbed wire looped around the entire main deck so if the pirates were able to hook the side it would not be easy for them to get to the main deck. Another merchant vessel was discharging their firemain system over the side which is just very high pressured sea water used for engineering equipment and to fight fires. There’s no harm in turning it on, since the ocean supplies the water, but its quite funny to see. A merchant ship driving by with huge spouts of water being rushing overboard.
When the helicopter took off yesterday they reported that many of the merchant vessels have placed mannequin’s on the bridge wings to act as fake lookouts. Its hard to tell that they are fake until you get very close, so it appears there are many more people onboard then there actually are.
Last night I had the 0200-0700 watch and about 14 merchant ships were transiting in two lines very close together. Now they are forming in packs and transiting together to minimize the risk of getting pirated. Every hour we give a Security call on bridge to bridge to let them know that there is a warship in the area that could send assistance should they notice any illegal or suspicious activities. Everytime I’m done speaking they come on the bridge to bridge and say thank-you, you sound so beautiful, and then there’s normally some vulgar comments I will not elaborate on. Men are Pigs!
My department head WEPS brought a binder up to the bridge for counter piracy ops and the cover sheet was very funny, it said (substantially less than) and below it, 101 ways to catch a pirate with a picture of Johnny Depp on the front from Pirates of the Caribbean. Then inside the cover it said trip wires: eye patches, peg leg, parrot, booty. Below that it then said, (or more helpful ways) and started listing the actual things we need to look for.
The 3 pictures directly above can be found on the Canadian Content Website specifically on the article entitled The Moment the Royal Navy Captured Somali Pirates after Cat and Mouse Chase.
There was another binder brought up today that said “Counter Piracy for Dummies” and it had pirates all over the bottom. I mean hey, we need to stay entertained some how.
Alright well I must go, I’m starving and they just opened the chow line for dinner.
Disclaimer: All of the pictures found in this post are not mine. These were all found on the Google Search Engine for Somolia Pirates due to the sensitivity of this content and the classification of recent activities.
For a complete listing of all of my deployment articles Click the Link: MY FIRST DEPLOYMENT
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.