- Navy blog
The mission has started
27 May 2012 - by Leendert
After a long period of preparation, HNLMS Evertsen lies in the port of Den Helder, ready to leave for Somalia to take part in Operation Ocean Shield. The last of the fresh supplies are taken on board, such as milk and vegetables. All around there are families saying farewell, and the press are here too to interview our commanding officer, and the crew as well, about the upcoming mission.
This is my first mission. My family have come up from Katwijk to see me off. It’s never nice to have to say goodbye and the dreary weather corresponds exactly with the mood.
Immediately after waving goodbye to family and friends, we start with all the standard safety drills that every ship carries out after departure. First we run through the evacuation procedure so that everyone is able to leave the ship safely according to plan and get into their life raft, if necessary. We also practise fighting a fire on board. The good thing about all these drills is the variety of tasks.
In addition to our own jobs, we have all sorts of extra tasks to do on board. These are called roles in the Navy. My daily job is to cook for the almost 230 men and women on board. The cooks are judged every day by the quality of the food. A good meal helps create a good atmosphere on board. My other main task on this mission is that of gunner.
Quite soon after departure, we begin with the mission-specific exercises. A unit of the Marine Corps and a helicopter with crew have joined us on board especially for this mission. These units are important in the fight against piracy. If there is a heightened threat alert, I take my post manning a MAG (a large machine gun), where I am in direct contact with the bridge to receive orders.
A large number of exercises are scheduled with the marines and the helicopters, involving regular firing exercises so that we can keep our skills at a high level, which is necessary for the mission to be a success. We practise all the necessary scenarios, such as rescuing a hijacked ship, questioning fishing boat crews, investigating suspect boats and intercepting pirates.
After a few days at sea, we reach our first port of call: Rota, in southern Spain. This stop is mainly for taking on oil, but luckily there is also time for the crew to relax. I visited the nearby city of Seville.
After our visit to Rota, we get started straight away on our counterpiracy exercises and we’re getting better and better at the things we have to do.
Of course, besides all the exercises and consultations, my normal work as cook goes on as well. The port visit to Istanbul demands quite a lot of the Logistics Branch. The visit is mainly devoted to marking 400 years of trade relations between Turkey and the Netherlands. We had ministers and representatives of the Dutch and Turkish business communities on board. Together with the other cooks, my colleagues from the Logistics Branch and the other crew members, we did our best to ensure that the Navy and the Netherlands made a good impression during the various receptions, lunches and dinners. And I think we succeeded.
All in all it has been a busy first few weeks, including a very special day… I celebrated my birthday at sea for the very first time.