My C/V UtViken Ship Experience
The sailor working in a cargo ship? Well, this will be a good change for him because the first decade of his seafaring experiences were spent working in tanker and container ships. His optimism drove him to try working as a messman even his COC (Certificate of Competency) is for Chief Cook. The assistant crewing manager of Viken Shipping at Wallem Maritime Services, Inc. said that the only available position is the third man in the kitchen, the steward or messman. Due to the so-called multi-tasking, the chief cook and the messman did all the duties in the galley and in the officers’cabins respectively.
Actual tasks onboard ship
The sailor found out that messman or steward in a Norwegian ship have more defined duties than in the Greek ship. It involves good housekeeping of the vessel’s alleyways, officer’s cabins, provision rooms, mess hall, officer’s laundry and pantry among others. Since all were Filipinos, on board M/V Utviken, Filipino officers personally wash their clothes and overalls. The messman’s duty is to wash their bed sheets, pillow cases, etc.
Unlike in the first Greek ship that the sailor had worked for, the master obliged him (as cook trainee) and the messman to help during the mooring operations. The master encouraged them to know how to maneuver the ship by letting the sailor and the messman have a one-hour of hands on (every 1 to 2 pm during voyage) of manually driving the ship. Much to the delight of other Greek officers and Filipino crew.
The sailor’s travelogue
As the contract of the sailor started in November 29, 2008, their flight was upgraded into business class by the Cathay Pacific Airlines going to Hongkong. The seven Filipino crew bound to Tampa, Florida enjoyed the first class service rendered by the plane crew. They even enjoyed staying at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Tampa for five days until the arrival of M/V Utviken (December 3rd).
All the Filipino officers and crew were accommodating. Even the ship was an old one, the cargo vessel was well-maintained by the crew on board. It received it’s Green Award, the first for bulk carriers or cargo ships and received numerous awards for the past years. It was noted that it was the ship used by the director of the film US Marshalls (starring Wesley Snipes and Tommy Lee Jones) in their fight scenes on board ship.
During the sailor’s contract, the travels of M/V Utviken were concentrated to Canada (Montreal, Quebec, Ontario), South America (Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago), Norway, Europe (Germany, Belgium, UK, Russia) and USA (New Orleans).
Special events that happened during the sailor’s travels in 2008-2009 were:
- The May 2, 2009 Fight of Manny Paquiao versus Ricky Hatton(while in Thorold, Ontario, Canada) and the visit of US President Barak Obama in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
- The cargo port in La Guaira, Venezuela and other key ports in the said Latin country were being sequestered by the leadership of President Cesar Chavez, much to the disgrace of private owners of machineries used in many terminals (including cargo trucks and lifts).
- The contract of the sailor ended nine months after going on board M/V Utviken. It was the prodding of the most accommodating captain (Captain Eulogio L. Panulaya) he ever served that made him decide to extend his six-month contract for another three months.
Hits and misses
May 2, 2009 was also the day when the Flag State of Bahamas representative conducted series of drills: fire and lifeboat drill in the morning. Although, there was difficulty in launching the boat , he remarked that the Filipino officers and crew were able to execute it on time.
The drill became real during the night.
While most of the crew went ashore to visit Niagara Falls, the remaining crew of M/V Utviken pacified the ship’s fire that happened at the upper deck where the spare cabin of electrical supplies was located.
The billow of thick black smoke was seen by the oiler who happened to pass the alleyway. He immediately sought the help of other remaining crew to pacify the fire. The second and third engineers, second and third officers, chief cook, two ABs and three oilers, the sailor and the chief officer whose really in panic (wearing only his briefs and socks) tried to pacify the fire. Without informing the port authorities of Thorold, they quickly located the source of the thick, dark smoke, The second and third officers with one oiler acted as the attack party. Second engineer commanded the duty at the engine control room to shut down the electricity to isolate the area. With the immediate action rendered, the operation at the port didn’t suffered. The captain was informed and went down and inspected the extent of damage of the fire caused by the overheated starter of the fluorescent light.
Postscripts: The sailor signed off on August 26th of 2009. Good memories are greater than bad ones. For him, seafaring is still a very lucrative job. He intend to continue working onboard ship for the next ten years of his earth life.