Forums / Off Topic / Lessons learned. Email from an engineer on the Maersk Alabama

8 years 49 weeks ago, 5:37 PM


samD's picture

Join Date:
Aug 2008
Green Valley, Free State of Arizona, United States

email from the first engineer to a colleague, describing details of the

-----Original Message-----
From: Maersk Alabama - ]
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2009 1:58 PM
To: Maersk Arkansas - 1st Engineer
Subject: from Matt Fisher
Hey Greg,
Everyone on here is okay. We're on our way to Mombasa with
Navy protection on board. Captain Phillips is still hostage in the
lifeboat with the 4 pirates. I hear they're flying out reliefs for everyone,
but I'm not sure what all's going to happen once we get to Mombasa .
Supposedly the FBI is coming out to investigate the crime. Maybe we'll be on the
next CSI Somalia . I wanted to let you know some of the lessons we
learned so you guys can better prepare yourselves for something similar. The
only guys actually captured by the pirates were on the bridge: Capt, 3/M,
and 2 AB's.
I don't really know why they stayed on the bridge until the
pirates got up there. Then they had keys to everything and were able to unlock
everyone's rooms. The pirates got up to the bridge very quickly once they
were onboard. We had a locked cage door over the ladder well from
main deck, but it only took a second for them to shoot it off. They then got
to the bridge up the outside ladders. By that time we had taken control of
the engine and steering down below. Mike stayed in the ECR and the C/M was out
on deck tracking the pirates' movement. We kept swinging the rudder
side to side.
The pirates' boat capsized, though I'm not sure exactly when or
what caused it. After about 20 minutes the engine was killed, I don't know
by whom. At that point I shut off the air bottles and Mike killed power. He
was also able to get outside and trip the fuel shutoff for the EDG. I
think this was critical. The pirates were very reluctant to go into the dark.
We will be looking at a way to shut off the EDG from the ECR in the future.
All the crew had been mustered and secured in the steering gear. Our
pirates didn't have any grenades, so they would have never been able to break
in there.
The previous day we had welded a padeye on the inside of the hatch to the
fantail so it was secured from the inside. The only problem with the
steering gear was the heat and the shortage of water. In the
future we will store food and water in various spots for emergency usage. I
think we will also run a fresh water line into the steering gear. We were
able to make a run from the steering gear to the E/R water fountain and fill up
some empty oil sample bottles we had back there.
The C/M was also able to get some fruit and sodas from the galley and drop them down the line standpipe. The pirates sent the 3/M unescorted to go look for crewmembers, so
he was able to get away. One of the pirates then went with an AB down to
the E/R to look for people. Mike was able to jump him in the dark and we
took him prisoner in the steering gear. No one else came down into the
E/R. As the day went on the pirates became desperate to get out of there.
There boat was sunk, and they couldn't get our ship moving. The Captain
talked them into taking the MOB boat. The three remaining pirates went down
in the MOB boat with Phillips. We were then able to negotiate with them
over the radio. We dropped some food, water and diesel to them. We
started getting the plant back on line. Unfortunately, the MOB boat wouldn't
start. A couple of guys got in the lifeboat and dropped it. They motored
over and traded the lifeboat for the MOB boat. We were supposed to
exchange their guy for the Captain, but they ended up keeping him. They
motored off in the lifeboat. They had no way of getting back aboard, so we
followed them. The Navy showed up a few hours later. We stayed close by for some
time, but then the Navy asked us to head out. I heard that several other
pirate vessels were heading our way and the Navy wanted us out of the
way. That's about it. I'll give you all the details some other time. Just
to reiterate the most important points:
Have a well fortified location with food and water supply.
Kill all the lights.
Leave the alarms going, the noise helped cover our movements
through the house.
Flashlights and radios are very handy, as well as the
sound-powered phone.

Anyway, it was a pretty stressful situation. I have to say I am
impressed with how the entire crew responded. We didn't have anybody who
wanted to give up. I'm pretty confident that Phillips will end up ok.
They have to know that if they kill him they'll be done. I assume the
company will be forced into taking some kind of action to assure our security
from now on.
Hope everything is going well there. I'll talk to you later.

8 years 49 weeks ago, 8:00 PM


samD's picture

Join Date:
Aug 2008
Green Valley, Free State of Arizona, United States

Thought you might be interested.

8 years 49 weeks ago, 8:06 PM


ssrs10's picture

Lieutenant General
Join Date:
Oct 2008
Connecticut, United States

Wow man, yeah I hadn't seen that yet. Very cool. You know something interesting you guys might like to know is that many of these pirates are so impoverished and unsophisticated that they literally do not know what/how to climb stairs or even how to use a door or door-knobs.

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses
8 years 49 weeks ago, 10:23 PM


BluesHarp's picture

Lieutenant General
Join Date:
Nov 2008
Etowah, TN, United States

I bet they had some kinda fun picking off those rat bastards. Talk about a turkey shoot!!! Wooo-Hoooooo!!!

I would love to have been there to witness the rescue in person.

This is gonna become commonplace because these little fuckers are not gonna give up. We will have to kill every single one of them. They have nothing to lose. There is no government and no laws there, so they are out to get what they can from whatever source that they can get it from. I say head shots for every one of them. That is the only way to erradicate them from the face of the earth.

Go ahead punk, Make My Day!

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