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Old Ships and the Cockroaches - How To Maintain Cleanliness On Board Ship

Updated on June 20, 2012
Captain's letter to the DPA (Designated Person Ashore) regarding ship's problem especially cockroaches on board ship (Photo c/o Bicolano Seafarers
Captain's letter to the DPA (Designated Person Ashore) regarding ship's problem especially cockroaches on board ship (Photo c/o Bicolano Seafarers

Every shipping company has its own Quality and Safety policies on board ship. It is often the topic of every toolbox meeting that happens during coffee or break time and weekly meeting.

Seafarers who signed contract for a particular commercial ship (whether it's a tanker, cargo or container ship) should have to know whether it's a new or old ship. Old ship means it was built during the 80s or early 90s while new ship was built only recent years.

While reading the posts of our group on Facebook, Bicolano Seafarers, a photographed letter from a certain captain of a ship owned and operated by Maersk Line caught my attention.

It reads (regarding Cockroaches):

"Already spread to both A & B deck, and with 16 Filipinos on board, they will quickly spread to living quarters as they bring food to their cabin, even explained they should not."

(Please refer to the photo of that letter above).

thesailor explains:

I don't believe that the fault should fall to Filipinos only.

The master didn't mentioned that all officers owned or have designated refrigerators inside their cabins, including him.

Usually, the messman or second cook will always bring food (as in fruits, biscuits or cakes) and put them inside the fridge.

They enjoy such privilege of having a refrigerator while most of the ratings (Filipinos, Indians, Rumanians and the like) will have to eat at the mess hall if they want to eat at night.

Part of the letter was true, but the captain should never focus on what the Filipino ratings are eating inside their cabins.

Other nationalities who have lower ranks also bring food inside their cabins.

In order to get rid of the cockroaches, the safety precaution for this is putting a garbage can inside each cabin which is strictly observed.

I know, for sure; the management of this huge shipping company will strictly implement safety and cleanliness while transporting goods, especially on port.

New ship at the port - not an old ship (Photo from Bicolano Seafarers)
New ship at the port - not an old ship (Photo from Bicolano Seafarers)

How to get rid of Cockroaches on board ship

Old ships are prone to rats and cockroaches. Let's concentrate on cockroaches, since, it can penetrate even the huge rat trap situated at every mooring line that was secured at port.

Cockroaches can be delivered true paper boxes of fruits, vegetables, drinks and other provisions.

Usually, cockroaches on board ships are small compared to those we see at home.

Old ships have more cockroaches than the new vessels.

My encounter with cockroaches started when I was assigned to board at the old container ship way back 2002.

All the cabins, from the master down to the lowest rank , have cockroaches.

All we did was:

  • Boil water and pour it on the sinkholes in the galley, lobby of provision room and toilet floors.
  • Using anti-cockroach spray also lessen its population.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of our cabin and clothing.

Among the three options, the boiling water is very effective in eradicating cockroaches.

One time, I caught my fellow Filipino cook spraying the vegetables which I'm about to cook. He reasoned out that he wanted to get rid of the roaches crawling on the veggies. It ignited a brawl between me and him, prompting him to sign off early as I relayed to the master the incident. From then on, I knew the reason why he didn't eat the food I cooked during the latter days of his contract on board.

Since, cockroaches hamper the issuance of Quarantine or Quality & Safety Certificate on board, this master who cautioned the DPA (designated person ashore) regarding their arrival on July (2012) will explain (lie) blatantly why Filipinos are promoting the population explosion of cockroaches on board ship.

Too bad, they own and operate the ship. We don't.

Or we should know better why they put that message putting the blame to our fellow country men.


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    • thesailor profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Seven Seas

      @jproldan: You bet, we are, due to our dedication to our work as seafarers.

    • jproldan profile image


      5 years ago

      filipino sailors are the best :)

    • thesailor profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Seven Seas

      I'm glad you said that, TM.

      Those European officers, most of them, used to berate Filipinos.

      I think they fear that their positions will be lost, because more and more Filipino seafarers are becoming officers, too. We can replace them, in time.

      We have all the opportunities to do it because we have the most number of seafarers in the maritime world.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @thesailor: This is very true! Even old houses are infested with rats and cockroaches. What more with old ships.

      That captain (ogre) must be ignoring the fact that old ships have all the problems that are not controlled by the crew on board, especially Filipinos.


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