FGS Berlin Completes Rest Stop in Souda Bay

June 15, 2021 (Google Translation) – At sea, the days literally flow into one another, any sense of time is lost. Little sleep, no internet, never alone. Gorch Fock already called his 1913 novel “Seafaring is hardship”. For the crew of the task force supply company (EGV) “Berlin” there was only a short recovery phase in the port of Souda on Crete. A strenuous week followed: three friendly approaches in three days, fast roping exercises, i.e. abseiling exercises from the on-board helicopter, target exercises and a sea supply maneuver, the Replenishment at Sea (RAS).

“A journey, A journey, A journey – Auuuuuufstand!” The same wake-up call and the signal that everyone is getting out of the bunk. Every marine will have heard it before. The feelings can fluctuate: from the anticipation that things will finally start again and every day at sea brings you closer to home, to the sadness that the pleasant time on watch is over for the time being. Then it is good to be busy and have little time to think. The crew of the “Berlin” went out to sea again. In addition to target practice with the machine guns, which the ship uses for self-defense, the Greek frigate “Limnos” was already waiting for the team on Monday. This was about 150 cubic meters of fuel, by RAS Procedures were handed over in a supply maneuver on the high seas. Then it went on in rapid succession.

Tuesday began with the first friendly approach since the “half-time break” of the mission. The second followed on Wednesday and the third on Thursday. The procedure is similar every time. The Force Commanderassigns the “Berlin” a ship on which a visit is to be requested. An officer of the bridge or a linguist connects to the merchant ship by radio and explains the mission and the intention of the “Berlin” to want to come on board with a team. If the captain of the radioed ship agrees, the on-board operations team gets ready. It usually consists of five soldiers. On the “Berlin” four of them come from Lithuania, one liaison officer comes from Germany. The number of soldiers on an on-board operation team can vary depending on the size of the ship and the location on site. The team can count up to ten people. If necessary, they can be supplemented by military police and language mediators.

Depending on various factors such as the weather or the type of ship, the soldiers can either transfer to the other ship by boat or helicopter. From the helicopter they rappel down a thick rope onto the ship – without safety, in combat gear, with boots, helmet, weapon for self-protection and a backpack. When traveling by boat, the same equipment is used to climb a rope ladder on the meter-high ship’s side up onto the moving ship, even in rough seas. Both variants are dangerous and require physical and mental fitness as well as maximum concentration. A fall into the water or onto the deck from a height of up to 15 meters can be life-threatening. Only through practice can the danger be reduced.

In addition, there is the unclear situation on the ship. Are the crew friendly and open? Does the captain or one of his officers speak English well enough? What will you find? The team must always be attentive and keep an eye on the situation – after all, it is in the narrow corridors and rooms of a strange ship, with no direct connection to the mother ship. The tension remains the same for everyone involved. Once the team has arrived on board, direct contact with the captain is established. In the conversation, the mission of Irini and the mission of the “Berlin” are explained. Numbers are exchanged in order to be able to communicate more easily and to build trust. Then it goes back to the EGVTask Force Suppliers.

The mission is only completed when the team is safely back on board the task force supply. A backbreaking job – for the on-board soldiers as well as for the crew who made this mission possible. In the meantime, the number of remaining days of work is manageable and the crew of the “Berlin” will soon be able to embrace their relatives in Wilhelmshaven again. Until then it will be said a few more times: “Aaauuuf Friendly Approach Station!”

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