Pirates at Sea on the QM2
On the 2nd day of the Dubai to Southampton cruise on-board the Queen Mary we were informed of security procedures that would be taking place tonight due to going through pirate waters. This was a surprise as I didn’t even think of pirates when I booked the cruise and under normal circumstances this probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much but since I had watched Captain Philips a few weeks ago I was a little apprehensive. The film is based on the story of mariner Richard Phillips who was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. I used to think Pirates were villains from stories i heard when I read when I was a child but the modern day pirates are real and they are active off the coasts of Somalia.
For 3 days we were transiting through the Gulf of Aden which according to Cunard is “well documented in the worlds media with regard to the threat of piracy”. Excellent security procedures were put in place well I say they were excellent as we didn’t get attacked so obviously something worked. We went through an international recommended transit corridor and we were under the protection of an international task force assigned by a united nations mandate to protect merchant ships from attack.
There was a bit of an atmosphere on the ship as I guess it was excitement and anxiety, I didn’t see anyone guarding the desks with machine guns or anything but there was heightened security. Deck 7 and 6 Outer decks were fully closed from dusk to dawn, they had lookouts so we were told not to use these at all in order for them to have full night vision without any deck lighting. Other decks were open but I never went out.
During the hours of darkness only essential open deck lights were on. This is the one of the only times on the ship where I am glad that I have an inside cabin. The captain reminded passengers with a balcony to make sure they switch the lights off and close the curtains at night. If I was in a balcony I would either be sleeping in the bathroom or out on the balcony keeping an eye out for rogue boats but I am not quite sure which. I was hoping because I had an inside cabin it was going to be the last place the pirates would get to and they would think I was poor and didn’t have anything worth robbing.
In the event of any pirate activity a warning announcement would be made from the bridge
“Attention, Attention. Security alert – go immediately to your secure positions”
If we heard this announcement we were required to :
- Move quickly and calmly to the inside of the ship (now if I saw pirates I would be moving very quickly but I can’t guarantee it would be calmly). Guests are asked not to remain on any open decks or near external windows
- Guests should proceed directly to your stateroom, if it has a window or a balcony you should sit in the corridor on a chair or on the floor but not in front of the door.
- If you have an inside cabin you can remain inside the cabin – again glad I and an inside cabin as I would be locking myself in the bathroom if I heard this warning
- The cabin stewards will be doing a check of the staterooms to ensure all guests are accounted for
Well we got through the first night with no drama. The captain informed us in the noon announcement that we were so many miles from the Somaolian coast which made it all seem more real.
I know it was unlikely that we are going to be hijacked but it does happen. I have heard stories of people who have been on board ships that have been attacked by pirates, they lived to tell the tale so that’s not too bad. Earlier this year there were reports of pirates hijacking a commercial ship.
I was thinking should I take my money out of the safe and hide it under my pillow but to be fair I have little money, no jewellery on an inside poor cabin so think they might target the others before they got to me.
Some passengers mentioned there was a bit of drama one day as a unidentified boat was close to the ship and planes came low to investigate. I believe we were being closely monitored by the Navy.
It made those few days a little interesting and I have to confess I am slightly disappointed we didn’t see pirates although it would be a different story if we did – there’s no pleasing me sometimes!!!
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