Pirates and Man Overboard: What to Do?

As you are packing for your holiday onboard, you rarely are concerned about your personal safety. Your first thought on the topic may come to you as you attend Life Boat Drill within a few hours of embarkation. You become familiar with your muster station, how to put on your life jacket, and the procedure for abandoning ship, if that rare occasion would arise on your voyage.

Throughout the cruise you are aware of crew drills covering various emergencies such as medical, fire, and electrical. Rarely are the passengers involved in these drills. However, on this voyage we have experienced two different drills, both that involved the passengers.

Two nights ago, as we were eating dinner, we noticed that the ship had slowed down considerably, and seemed to be slowing down even more as the minutes ticked by. After dinner Barb and I went to the Senior Officers cocktail party and once we arrived, it became evident that the Senior Officers were not present at the event. We thought that was odd. Then the public address system came on and the Commodore told us that they feared that someone had fallen overboard.


They could not determine who it was, so the Commodore asked all passengers to return to their cabins for a room check by our stateroom stewards. All the passengers proceeded as requested to their cabins, checking in with the room stewards. In 10 minutes the Commodore came on the loudspeaker and asked that Gilbert Ang please go to his room or call the Pursers Desk. We all felt worried, hoping that this was not going to end in tragedy. Finally, the Commodore came on to say all the passengers had been accounted for, and they were in the process of clearing the crew who then were all accounted for. The entire process from initial notice to final clearance was just about 20 minutes. We all were happy that the outcome was positive, and commented on how efficiently and smoothly the process had been, especially considering there are 2,600 passengers onboard.

Our second drill occurred this morning. As we shall be entering the Gulf of Aden (pirate waters) within 24 hours, the ship is taking precautions for a possible pirate attack. The chances of any such attack are very, very slim; however, the cruise ships take the matter very seriously and Cunard, in particular, has established protocols for just such an attack.


Crew members patrol the decks each evening. There is also a general blackout of all non-essential lighting, including passenger cabins with drapes drawn after sundown. Special pirate deterrent sound equipment (the frequency can break a person’s eardrums) is in place on all open decks.

If pirate activity is detected, then all passengers are directed to go immediately to their cabins. Those with outside cabins are to stand or sit in the hallway outside their cabins. Those with inside cabins are to stay in their cabins with the door closed. That is what we practiced today. The procedures for the crew (other than room stewards) are the same as for passengers. Room stewards stay with passengers in their area of responsibility. We knew it was a drill, but, if there had been an actual threat, we will know what to do. It is, indeed, a reassuring feeling.

Our friendly pirate who lives across the hall from us.

 

 

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