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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chronicles of Pirate attack survivor…………………




Date: 09 Sep 2009

Time: 12.00 noon


It was a normal routine day. After hours of grinding, all the crew members along with officers including me were salivating on Indian desi food in duty officer’s mess. Sharing sea tales, banters or news from home was regular practice in around the lunch hour. All of a sudden, the duty officer on bridge called for Captain on the speaker which was unusual as amplifiers are used only for specific announcements. Befuddled, we all got alarmed by hearing his panicky voice. Nobody ever anticipated an attack on the area we were sailing. We had almost transited the high risk area and in the safe waters. With bated breadth, everyone waited for the inevitable. Another announcement came within seconds. Our Ship is under attack!!

Our ship BW LION was attacked some 400 nautical miles north-east of the Seychelles. This was the longest range of pirate attack off the Somalia coast ever.

Bw Lion before the attack

 All hell broke loose.Instantly all ran for their muster points.Two other supernumerary congregate and myself on bridge as it was our muster station on emergencies. Using binoculars, I saw two speeding white skiff boats just 10 miles away from our liner. Due to the enormous size of vessel and being loaded with crude oil, we could only increase the speed to some extent. But the skiffs rapidly came towards us.



I looked out of the bridge window and saw one small boat with five black people just 20 yards away. All of them clearly were carrying the rifles. Kudos to the officers including my husband who went away on deck to turn on the water/fire hoses. Within minutes we heard an almighty bang. One of the men carrying a bazooka aimed right at us. The grenade struck one level below. It was the Captain’s day room.The fire alarm went berserk as the rocket propeller pierced into the walls and the entire quarters engulfed in blazes. Few of the crew members scurried towards fire spot with extinguishers to prevent the flames spread across other areas.We heard continuous plunk of bullets.

Somalian pirates with rocket launchers and AK-47


The bombardment lasted for more than two hours, and several areas of the ship, including the front bridge area, were damaged by Ak-47 and rocket launchers. Two of the pirates even gestured towards us to stop the engines. But that was out of the question. The only measure was to take evasive actions, repelling the attackers not to board the vessel.
Concurrently a distress call and radio mayday was sent to the office and to international maritime security services. Throughout the two hour ordeal, people from UKMTO were in constant touch and guided us with further actions.

Needless to say we all were scared shit, especially the wives. Our security was the top priority for them. One of the officers was with us at all times. The main intention was to drag  the pirates as long till they ran out of fuel to make it to shore. At last after continuous chasing the Master and crew were able to prevent the marauders to board, through a combination of evasive maneuvering,  maintaining full sea speed, effective use of water hoses and anti-boarding measures. Also we got air help from the French naval in nick of time.

Picture captured from air plane during the attack


We were directed to sail towards the nearest shore possible. We burst into a round of applause and happy tears when were told the pirates had been defeated and now are in safer waters. Everybody took a sigh of relief.



Hours after the chaotic moment’s reality smacked. Not a soul ever wanted to imagine the aftermaths of being captured.Salute to Captain and other officers who showed tremendous courage and professionalism throughout the nightmare.

After signing off from the ship, me and my husband was invited to Singapore office and a lavish party was organized in our honor. I still get goose bumps whenever I revisit the incident. But the black memorabilia is a thing of the past  and it had made me more stronger. I do not live in constant fear now and the unpleasant incident certainly does not dissuade me to sail again.
After all……………………………...................................................................................................

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”





48 comments:

  1. Why am I surprised that our sailors are lesser heroes despite their bravery. Anu!!! You braved the storm, strong lady and I wonder how u did it. I mean it's shit scary, lady to be caught in the midst of attack. Quite an experience!

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    1. Vishal more scarier part is when you sit back at home and got news of your better half being captured by the pirates.Am glad i was with him in "worse".Thank you.

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  2. Oh My God. That was such a chilling account Anu! I got goose bumps just reading it.. I keep reading about Pirate attacks because i work in the maritime industry but to actually face one!

    Glad you survived to tell the tale . Scary experience indeed my friend..

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    1. Thanks pallavi, indeed it was an hallowing experience and god gracious we all came out uninjured. :)

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  3. Baap re! That is so scary. Felt like something straight out of the movies. Thank heavens you are safe!

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    1. Yes from reel to real.But much more daunting.Thank you for reading.

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  4. Whoa!! I got goosebumps while reading this and I can't ever imagine how you must have felt in that situation.

    I totally agree with your last line and your last line sums it all.

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    1. Well sometimes being brave is your only option.thanks ankit

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  5. OMG!! That's a scary and shocking! Kudos to the team! Glad that you all are safe and sound!

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    1. Yes as i said,its now thing of the past.But Psychological trauma will take its time to wear off.

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  6. That is a detailed account. The harsh reality of piracy as compared to the Black Beard's ghost stories. I presume this happened 4 years ago.If this was so bad and scary then, one can imagine the threat and frequency of it today. Piracy and terrorism has to be nipped in the bud before it annihilates the whole world. Unfortunately some people still don't realise the magnitude of it and want to play politics for their own benefit.

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    1. As compared to previous years,number of attacks has been decreased due to world navy intervention, armed guards on board and piracy measures by the vessel.Thankyou Joe

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  7. Pirate attack!! Saw only in movies and heard only in stories. I can't even imagine how scary it must have been. Agree that true meaning of courage is its triumph over fear.

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    1. See i gave you a real detailed pirate attack account.now you donthave to watch "pirates of the Caribbean.Thankyou disha and welcome here.

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  8. This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

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    1. Thank you Team Blogadda for picking my post for the lovely tittle.Needless to say am on cloud nine.

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  9. That was a scary experience indeed. Glad thst all of you were safe and unhurt.

    Congratulations on the Spicy Saturday Picks! :-)

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    1. Thank you Rekha.Coming from you it means alot.

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  10. That was one scary experience! Kudos to you for being brave enough to sail again.....but as you said he who conquers fear is truly brave.....

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    1. I think i have seen the worst,now am not going to be scared off easily.Bring on more!! Thank you bellybytes n welcome here.

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  11. I really appreciate the courage of the crew, but I am not able to understand why such a large ship was left only with water canons to protect itself? Isn't it legal to have guns, rocket launchers and other such weapons and use it (even if not on them, somewhere around them - to scare them off)?

    Destination Infinity

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    1. You aptly pointed out.. Not in India but around the world arms n ammunitions are illegal on board. It’s a global issue and the maritime industry fears if ships are allowed weapons, it might lead to smuggling. But comparatively due to regular interference of naval forces from all countries, provision of conveyor ships in high risk area, commando’s on board, numbers of attacks have been reduced over the year.

      Thank you for reading and sharing my post on your blog.

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  13. That could have gone wrong and I am glad it didn't!
    Congrats on your post!

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    1. thanks heaven it didn't.Cheers Indrani and thank you for reading.

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  14. That sounds really scary. Glad you all were okay.

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  15. Wow! looks like a story straight from an action thriller. So glad everything just worked out fine in the end!

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    1. Same feeling here Kajal.Thank you for reading..)

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  16. thank you for sharing such a scary experience i really get scared while reading it...

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  17. Wow, that must have been one hell of an experience! Really brave work by the crew.
    And congrats on the Blogadda pick.

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    1. Thank you Shail.Coming from you means alot.

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  18. Hi ! Long time since I visited your blog.. but seriously, aapne to har post me to chauke-chakke maar rakhe hain! seriously, loved all of your posts :) ANd this one was so interesting that I even called my cousins to see this post! I just even can't imagine the trauma your husband and other officers must have been going through knowing that their family members are with them. And for you it would have been even more traumatising to face such a kind of situation, totally unprepared and in such a dramatic manner. But it's a really brave thing that you came out of that shell, as you wrote in the end. And you know what, I have copied the last lines of your article on a poster and pasted it in my room ;) They are too good !

    By the Way I have one random question- 200 people on a ship with all the arms and ammunitions and that too at a height vs. 10 people on small speedboats with just semi-automatic rifles? Now, who should feel scared?
    hehee! Lol!
    No need to answer that :P

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    1. Oh such a big comment sonny boy. Really am sure they all must be flabbergasted as it’s not a very regular incidence. Yes it’s certainly more freaking for female passengers. God know what we had to face if captured that day.
      No your stats are wrong. It was not a cruise ship but an oil tanker. So its 28 people VS 10 niggers along with arms & ammunition. Utterly dangerous

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  19. This must have been an absolutely nerve-racking experience, Anu. It brings the reality of pirate attacks so much closer when it happens to people we know. Thank God you all got away.
    PS: No wonder it was a BA pick! :)

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    1. Thanks Corinne.Yes reading the incident through survivors account is more nerving then from papers.

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  20. So glad you are safe. Sounds like quiet an ordeal!

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    1. Yes it was indeed .thank you for reading.

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  21. Oh my god!! What an experience!! It sounds more like a movie than anything else?! Glad you all were safe!

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    1. See i showed you real movie without a ticket.Thank you roshni

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  23. OMG! That was scary...you the brave lady...even I got goosebumps while reading! :-o

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    1. More then me it was all the officers and crew members.thank you Priti.

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  24. I hv read about you for the first time...your life is quite fascinating :)kind of dreamy..would love that but I do not think I can handle it :) Gosh...this must hv been really scary I can't even imagine...glad you all were safe.Last line so true!!

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  25. That sounds scary. Thank God you guys are alright. And hats off to the officers.

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  26. these experiences leave a nightmare in the memories......reading a first hand account in itself feels like a near nightmare....

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  27. Hi Anu! I know many readers have congratulated you on this post. A lot of positive comments appreciating you guys. No doubt you've been brave. But this post is just freaking me out! My boyfriend has been allotted BW Lion. He will be going on board in a few days. An I did my routine google search on the ship and saw this post. I know BW Lion has fixed ports and long voyages. A random question coming up but does the ship have wifi? I would feel a lot better if I can stay in touch with him more often. Wifi would be much better than the satellite phones. I wish I could be with him on board this time. I don't know how I am going to manage one whole year with all the piracy thing!

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  28. gosh! these somalian creatures have been intimidating the waters for long, and I am thrilled that your sailors/team did a fine job!

    I like your ending line...so apt and so to the point. Why live in fear cause this fear will then ultimately only envelope us and eat us away...enjoy and be free!

    Great write up, Anu

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