As this was my first sea phase as a cadet on a merchant vessel, I did not quite know what to expect, my maritime background was solely Motor Yachts therefore I was thoroughly looking forward to becoming a part of the commercial side of the industry.
I flew out to Singapore on the 9th September to join Ardmore Cherokee, a 153m oil/ chemical tanker with a working route covering most of Asia and the Far East, all places I have never been before!
As I joined the ship, the Chief mate welcomed me onboard, showed me to my cabin and then briefly around the ship. I then quickly got changed into overalls and helped with the ships stores where I quickly realized the ships operations are on a tight schedule and everyone has a job to do.
In the first week onboard I was mainly familiarizing with the ship’s fire fighting appliances and equipment locations as well as my emergency duties and the general layout of the ship. To assist with this I drew a sketch of the GA plan and the Cargo plan.
As we were at anchor for some time, my duties started with mainly maintenance on deck. I got the hang of chipping, grinding and painting very quickly implementing the safe working practices of risk assessments and permits to work when necessary.
The first cargo loading port was Singapore where we loaded Motor spirit gasoline. The chief mate ensured I read the material safety data sheet for every cargo, as it contains specific information about the cargo such as how harmful or flammable it is and what to do in an emergency situation as well as many other vital things.
After a few weeks onboard, I was moved to the same watch as the 2nd officer. The second officer was an Irish, ex Chiltern Maritime cadet therefore we had a lot in common and in turn I learned a lot from him about the practical working life as an officer as well as details about my training record book and the academic side of the course.
I started to learn celestial whilst at sea on watch with help from the other cadet, the OOW.
I would carry out a gyro error calculation by Azimuth of stars and planets at the start of every watch, I started by following the steps of an observation the OOW had previously done but it did not take long before I could do a gyro error calculation by memory.
I then progressed to learning to plot Lines of position by altitudes of planets and stars.
The Chief officer would regularly test my knowledge of the rules, this lead to me learning verbatim rules: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.
Learning all of these rules word for word I consider as one of my greatest accomplishments onboard and I surprised myself as to how fast I had achieved this.
We would carry out several training drills every month, including launching of the lifeboats; fire drills, man overboard, security lockdowns, enclosed space and many more to comply with IMO standards and to keep the crew refreshed on the duties in emergency situations.
My favorite drills were always the launching of the lifeboat, as I would get to lower it to the waterline from inside the lifeboat and then drive it around and come back to the ship.
Due to my previous experiences in the industry I had good knowledge of small craft therefore the chief officer would let me train the crew on how to drive the lifeboat.
Another drill I found particularly interesting was the enclosed space rescue, this drill showed me how to recover an unconscious casualty from an enclosed space by the use of a tripod, winch and a stretcher. To demonstrate this, we used a member of crew on the stretcher.
An interesting part of my sea phase was heading through the Malacca strait as it was a piracy area and consequently we had to deter and prevent any situation that could disrupt the security of the sip therefore we used barbed wire to protect against this.
My favorite part of the sea phase was the final sea passage from Jubail, Saudi Arabia to Haldia, India when the captain let the crew have a barbeque. We also set up a basketball court and swimming pool.
Although I was there to work and learn, it was nice to see the fun side of the industry and how something so simple as a barbeque can raise crew morale.
As a conclusion to my sea phase, I feel as though I had made a huge effort to completing the greater part of my TRB and the supporting workbook.
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to go on a chemical tanker and learn in detail the cargo operations onboard.
I have developed a wider understanding of the industry as a whole from listening to the officer’s experiences and learning from the situations we have encountered onboard.
I am truly enthusiastic to continue my studies and apply the experiences onboard to the academic side of the course.
This first sea phase has reinforced my motivation to become a qualified officer and progress in the industry.