The second day… and this time around I did not need any alarm to wake me up, I was well awake even before 4:45am!
Once at the base, I had a well-deserved breakfast, none other than my favorites -bread and bacon. As I sat there all alone (as I was the only intern at the Seychelles Coast Guard for this week) little did I know I was about to become the one and only female crew member on board “Hermes” naval ship!
It was only minutes later that my supervisor gave me the news.
As I board the Hermes, I was introduced to Lance Corporal Hoareau-aged only 25 years of age, and had an almost 6 year experience in the military. Lance Corporal Hoareau was to be my mentor for the day…
My work aboard the naval vessel, all started with a brief overview and tour on board the ship, through which I was able to learn about Hermes’ history ( which is more or less a new vessel constructed in 2013), its capacities and what makes it different from the other naval ships.
While we toured I seized the opportunity to ask Lance Corporal few questions about his military and maritime career, given that like myself he was a fellow youth and in love with the ocean. He explained that it all started at the Maritime Training Centre, and then after his studies he joined the SCG, where he was based on the popular Coast Guard vessel- Topaz for the past 5 years. One of the peak moments of his career was when he was sent for training for the SCG in USA, Virginia and he seized the chance to visit the White house. (Lucky dude!)
After the small introductory chit chat and having to meet the rest of the male only crew on board Hermes, which even included a previous schoolmate, I was given a lesson on some of the most common maritime practices. These included the Port and Starboard nautical terms. Can you guess what these terms means?
Port and Starboard simply means left and right in civilian terms.
These are expressions mainly used at night to better understand the movement of other ships while out at sea, as there are no lights on the ocean compared to roads
The Port side is indicated by a RED light color on the vessel which means the left side, as for the other (starboard) –which means right, is indicated by a GREEN light.
Governed by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at sea (Yes! Some legal aspect –two of my favorites topics merge together: law and the sea), it is usually stated that a ship on the left must give way to a ship on its right. Two vessel coming towards each other in a channel for instance will be a port to port approach.
After this, the main work started—my very first patrol of the inner EEZ with the Seychelles Coast Guard. From Hermes I step into a small fast response vessel along with L.Corporal Hoareau and another soldier and away we went on patrol! The patrol prove to be very exciting, and I had the serious responsibility of keeping an eye out for anything illegal or suspicious happening on the EEZ. (pretty cool huh?)
Other tasks for the day included bringing some outreach (secondary one students) who was visiting the base to a tour out at sea in an SCG vessel. While the students waited away on the docks all excited and very loud, the crew and I were in charge to set up the boat, lifejackets and other equipment that would be needed for the tour. As they board the boat I had to conduct a head count, check all life jackets and to carry out other precautionary measures as instructed by my mentor.
During the trip I also had the challenging task of comforting a very jumpy and frightened school boy who sat still during the trip with tears in his eye scared of the ocean and being on boats in general. He just wouldn’t talk to anyone! Almost one hour later he finally gave in and went outside the vessel to finally take a look (Although a very quick one) at the ocean-so I guessed it was mission accomplish for me!
Who knows maybe in ten years he will also be applying for the Blue Economy internship…
Did you know #2: Hermes was the name of a Greek god associated with speed and good luck, who served as a messenger to Zeus and the other gods.