57 DAYS IN HELL - Diary Of A Pirate Hostage

Here’s the daily diary of the 2 A/E aboard the Sirius Star, taken by Somali Pirates late last year. Full article can be read HERE.

Here are exclusive extracts from James Grady’s secret diary on board the Sirius from November 15 to January 10.

(James holding the ladder pirates used to board the ship)

15 Nov 08 DAY 1
I was working on the sunken deck when we saw the deck crowd setting up fire hoses. I thought they were just testing the hoses.
A member of the crew came over and said we were being followed by two small speed boats. But none of us thought for a minute it was pirates, not this far from the coast. I just went back to work.
In no time at all the pirates were close to the ship and we could see they were well armed. We had fire hoses to defend ourselves. There was no point in trying.
They had fully boarded the ship by 0855 and they were carrying machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.
By 0902 the pirates had control of the wheelhouse and insisted the ship was stopped, now.
Two boats & 8 men were then taken on board. At 1500hrs we stopped again, and picked up a 3rd boat. I think a total of 10 armed men are on board. They keep the satellite phone busy so we can’t use it to contact any help. Not that there is any help to come. Heading for Somalia. Everyone is nervous about what will happen there.

At 1000hrs they started with the Captain’s cabin, then went to every cabin one by one, stealing all money, phones etc. They were in my cabin twice, stealing.

Pirate Cove: (we call it Pirate Cove) anchored close to the coast in Somalia. Got a visit in the engine room for the first time. They searched all of the Engine Control Room (ECR) for anything valuable. Stole a company supplied laptop computer and other things. After they went, I turned off the access elevator into the ECR in the hope it will keep them out.

We got a second visit in the ECR. One Somali. He spoke good English. He asked me how I was keeping. I said “I am OK - for a hostage”. He then asked “Where is the money? Where is your pocket money?” I told him: “Your friends took all our money”. He left with nothing.

There is still a fear in the ship the pirates will go round the cabins again, the thieving bandits.
We are not sure how many pirates are on board, we think it’s about 20 to 25. We are not allowed to go outside so it’s difficult to tell.
Their saving grace is they know nothing about computers.

One of the pirates got shot in an AK-47 accident. The pirates asked for medical attention. The wounded pirate was then taken ashore. We never saw him again.

We moved anchorage approx. 15 miles along the coast to what we call Pirate Bay, Somalia. They keep wanting us to go closer to the shore. They don’t understand that the ship is too big to go closer.

DAY 11
Interviewed by ITV News on the satellite phone. We give the pirates good press. No choice, as they were standing close and listening. The pirates promise we will get calls home tomorrow morning.

DAY 13
The pirates are giving the crew a hard time. They got into the mess room and the crew brought it on themselves by having porn on the computers. The pirates wanted the porn and bullied the crew.

DAY 14
A helicopter has been circling us once or twice a day for the past few days. Again today. Just before lunch a Spanish (we think) warship cruised past 5 miles away. A subtle message to the pirates maybe? Maybe the helicopter was from that warship. I got my working shoes stolen.

DAY 18
Pirates got very nervous when we tested the alarms. Guns at the ready. Five new pirates joined today. At 2100hrs they ordered everyone to the bridge to be real hostages.
They thought they were going to be attacked. The ‘attacking craft’ the pirates thought they saw was actually a bloody lighthouse about 15 miles aft.
Everyone ended up sleeping in the officers’ rec room with armed guard at the door. It was very uncomfortable and cold.

DAY 19
A very bad night for us hostages. Locked in the officers’ rec room no fun, and Captain’s snoring didn’t help. About 0500hrs everyone awake. By 0600 The pirates were stealing from cabins again.
They took the First Mate and went from door to door though every cabin and every store, stealing again. That makes it five times my cabin has been searched.

DAY 20
Moved anchorage closer to shore half a mile. The stupid f*****s do not understand that the ship is too deep draft to go any closer.

DAY 23
Helicopter passed early afternoon. I like to see the helicopter, it makes me feel we are not alone.

DAY 25
The EU take over from NATO patrolling the Somali coast but they don’t know what to do when they catch a pirate. We all know what to do with them.

DAY 26
I had them banging at my door last night, I think they were checking if we were all in our cabins. The satellite phone is not working again. The helicopter passed by four times today.
Pirates say we will go free tomorrow ??? Bull****.

DAY 33
01:15hrs. Pirates pushed a life belt into the sea and fired bullets at it. 0630 a fishing boat came close to aft end. Pirates fired heavy machine gun at it. 0805 helicopter passed by first time in three days. No end in sight.

DAY 36
A ‘no helicopter’ day. Crew lockers were broken into. Two weeks now and no phone calls home for everyone. Not good.
DAY 41 (Christmas Day)
No helicopter. Crew and Pirates went fishing today.
DAY 42
We are now 6 weeks hostage. Helicopter visited today. More fishing today for food. Info from ashore, a good English speaker said he is coming on board tomorrow and we may get phone calls home.

DAY 51
Some head men said: “Negotiations are completed.” We are only waiting for the money to be transferred, which will take up to three days. Captain was able to phone bosses and they confirmed the story but say it may be seven to 10 days.

DAY 53
Contact with bosses, they say to keep info private. We should receive instructions of what to do and when we are to go free.

DAY 54
Boss pirates on board say we will be released on Friday. At 0830 a plane will come. All crew are to be on deck to be counted, then it will drop a package into the sea. A boat will pick it up. All being well, we will be released. That’s the plan.
DAY 55
Tomorrow we are all to be on deck at about 0630 so we can be counted by a small plane. It will then drop 50 per cent of money. It will return about six hours later with the other 50 per cent. Captain will count the money. About 3 million dollars total.

DAY 56
Everyone up at 0500. At 0630 we all went out on deck. At 0805 a twin engine plane passed stern to bow at low level, to count us all. It passed a second time and dropped a capsule with a parachute into the sea. Half the money. Two pirate boats picked it up and brought it on board.
We all then came inside. The plane returned at 1410 and dropped off the remaining money. The money was on board by 1420. 1600 and the bloody pirates are still stealing.
Why won’t they just ******* go? They’ve been paid! At 1630 17 of the pirates get off. At 1900 we’re informed one of the boats had capsized and maybe four of the pirates were missing. So the other half are staying the night.

DAY 57
Most people up by 0400hrs. Then at 0534hrs: THE LAST PIRATE LEFT THE SHIP. At 0536 we are on stand-by, and at 0642, we’re away on passage to freedom. The company have not yet decided on a destination for the ship. US helicopter came by and gave us a wave. I waved back. FREE TODAY! BBC reported a pirate source said five pirates died when their boat capsized. Very good news to us all.

Should shipowners be allowed to put full auto weapons on ships sailing through water swarming with pirates? I know that as mariners we are not trained to use full auto weapons but we are trained to fight fires and emergencies why not boardings? We have to risk our lives in any case so why go through what this poor fellow did without any means to stop being boarded? I say arm the vessels, give the mariners on them the training and once these pirates know that they are going to find a “warm” reception, I wager that piracy off the Horn of Africa goes down real fast.

I agree with weapons! I am sure I am not the only veteran in the maritime field, but then again the military did not teach me how to properly fire a weapon. There are plenty of competent mariners willing to fight. IMO.

Thanks that really puts a human element to the crew attacked by pirates. Just think about each hostage’s personal items being stolen, credit cards, documents, what a nightmare.