Interning at the MOC operation room
Monday 5th December 2016, 4:45am: the alarm startled me wide awake… I got up from my bed immediately; one of those rare instances where my alarm had to go off only once for me become fully awake (it usually take 5 snoozes only for me to wake up 45 minutes later after the initial alarm).
But this was no ordinary morning …I was going back to the Seychelles Coast Guard and I could not contain my eagerness... (Even though it was only for one week)!
I remembered one and a half year ago, I attended an SPDF/ Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) recruitment fair. Having love the fair, I then requested for a visit at their base for me to grasps a better understanding on the work that they undertake. I immediately fell in love with the Seychelles Coast Guard… but then I was too scared to join the army but the love for the SCG never manage to fade away…
To reach the Coast Guard, I had to be in town at 7am sharp to take the transport straight to the base. As soon as I stepped on the bus I realised that this was a whole different world from the slow and more relaxed civilian world that I was used to. This was the army-a more serious environment with a whole new level of discipline than I was used to!
When I reached the base, I was greeted by my supervisor –Second Lieutenant Harry Payet who laid out the standard of behavior and discipline that was expected of me as an intern in the military-I was both happily excited but nervous at the same time. The day then continued with a visit around the base, I had the chance to see the different facilities and technology that the SCG was equipped with. This ranged from advanced radar system, naval ships, fast response vessels, diving facilities, armory, dormitories, workshops, TV and recreational room, sport facilities, and many more.
What was astonishing about the visit was the realisation that there was more to the army than only being a soldier –for me the SCG resemble a well- functioning organism independently on its own. For instance, I had the chance to visit the SCG kitchen room (which they refer to as ‘Mess’). Here there was military personnel that were not merely soldiers but they were experienced ‘chef’ and they were the personnel responsible for being in charge of the kitchen and eating facilities. I also came across the administration department which as its name entails are in charge of the administrative functions hence paper work and everything…
Then there was also the accounting field which were full of army accounting officers and even a carpenters unit-whereby army officers who are well-skilled in carpentry work do astonishing work using wood. Contrary to popular belief -the army does not only involve guns, fighting and tiring physical activities –it also needs specialised skills as needed by the civilian world.
After the visit, I was placed at the operation center whereby I met with army officials such as P. Clarisse who has been part of the SPDF for more than 20 years. (Amazing right??!!). P. Clarisse was in charge of the operation room for the day thus he seized the opportunity to recount his two decades experience at the SPDF including his involvement in the fight against piracy back in 2009.
For the rest of my first day at the internship I worked with Sergeant Clarisse and his team whereby I got to understand how they do the daily monitoring of the Seychelles EEZ such as the use of the AIS system, how rescue mission takes place and many more.
Did you know #1: All Coast Guard Officers are required to park their cars uniformly, with the back facing the wall as a means of disciplinary measures, more or less like a drill system?
By Shantana Barbe