‘Ship-to-ship training is very valuable’

One hand for oneself and one for the ship. That was the first thing Henri Poortvliet was taught during his ship-to-ship-transfer course. ‘That first lessen I was already familiar with. My grandfather used to work for the Waterworks Ministry, as a little boy I sailed with him every now and then. Most experience I gained working on a fishing ship where we sometimes were confronted with wind force 8 or 9 on the North Sea. That makes you learn fastly!’

‘The MIRG ship-to-ship-training was very valuable, to me and to my colleagues. Not everyone has experience with these kind of procedures, and chances are big that is won’t be 25 degrees centigrade with lots of sunshine when we, as MIRG, have to get on board an incident ship. Therefore it is very important that the team knows what it means: getting on board via a small ladder hanging on a heaving ship. You all want to go home safely afterwards, a responsibility of the entire team.’

‘My training day started hazily, but later turned into a nice warm day. We left from Vlissingen to a dredger in a nearby harbour. Via a rope ladder we climbed up, just to feel what this is like. We then left for open water to train a man overboard procedure. We used a buoy. It is hard to believe how fast you lose sight of a person who fell overboard. After lunch we practiced more on steep, wobbling ship ladders and experienced stepping on board of a sailing vessel. A dangerous procedure, especially in bad weather conditions. Looking back, I had a very instructive day, that went by way to fast!’