Riekelt Post on a “Pirate hunting” trip

“I started working in merchant shipping ten years ago, deliberately choosing short contracts in order to get as much marine experience as possible. I have done several jobs for Atlas in the meantime, including this trip inside the piracy area, all of which were to their satisfaction.” Riekelt Post (59) tells us about his trip across the Arabian Sea for dredging company Jan de Nul, having been seconded out by Atlas Professionals.

“In recent years I have been involved in worldwide ship deliveries and this is what I hope to continue doing. Why? First and foremost for education: these trips take you all over the world and teach you about how things are done in other countries. Secondly, the diversity: each to his own of course, but I don’t see myself working on a production line. And thirdly, the challenge: broadening your horizon keeps you on your toes.”

Discipline

“Jan de Nul is one of the largest dredging companies in the world, working on many worldwide locations simultaneously. Ships often have to move from one location to another. For local dredging work there is a specific dredging crew on board, however planning and carrying out sea trips is a totally different discipline, and often involves hiring crew externally. It appeared that the DN 204 had to be taken from Duqm, in Oman, to Tuticorin in India, at a time when there was a lot of political unrest in Oman. The trip would take us across the Arabian Sea, where ships are often subject to brutal piracy attacks. This challenging trip should take about three weeks, although anything could happen on the way.

Risks

“Jan de Nul ships had experienced problems with pirates earlier, and as such neither the company nor the insurance people were prepared to take risks. Therefore the ship’s crew was made up of certified and experienced personnel, barbed wire was placed all around the hull, windows were covered with steel panels, an alarm system was installed and four armed commando’s sailed with us. Not everybody would look forward to a trip such as this, however with the protection provided and the back up from Jan de Nul it was certainly a new challenge. We received daily bulletins from SAT C about pirate attacks in our vicinity. These messages also made it clear that the pirates quickly backed off when the ships they were attacking opened fire on them. With some luck, a good sailing plan and the excellent support of the company we completed the journey satisfactorily.

Highlight

“I’ve sailed in piracy areas before now, and this demands a great deal of discipline from the crew. One highlight, however, was when I was onboard a ship in Nigerian waters and we were attacked by pirates. The pirates demanded money; luckily the armed marine police accompanying us were able to chase them off the ship. Although the government has a softer approach, this just goes to show that having armed security personnel onboard does indeed make a difference. I would personally prefer to be prosecuted for possession of firearms rather than be shot by a pirate. What is or is not legal is not always the most important question; it’s more about one’s will to survive. The economic crisis has had a massive effect worldwide, but quality always comes out on top and I am always able to find sufficient work. Even though there is a civil war raging in the country of departure, pirates are encountered at sea, and all of the GSM satellites are shot to pieces, you can count on the men from Atlas to reach their destination."