If there had been proper lookout from DANICA WHITE, the pirate boats could have been spotted app. 30 minutes before they reached DANICA WHITE. However, due to the slow speed of the ship, DANICA WHITE could not have sailed away from the pirates, but the crew would have been able to raise the alarm in time and shown the pirates that they had been spotted. (6.5) - DMA (page 5)
Here is how the work was organized on the ship:
Normally, DANICA WHITE had a crew of 6 men, the master, the mate, three OSs and one cook.The sea watch on board was arranged in such a way that the master and the mate had a 6 – 6 hours schedule as the navigators on duty. Two out of the three OSs also had similar 6 – 6 hours schedule as lookout man/helmsman. OS 3 was a day man and did not take the sea watch. The OS on duty worked with the day man within normal working hours (08 – 17).
In port, the OSs kept an entrance log at the gangway. (Page 16)
An Ordinary Seaman (OS) is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The position is an apprenticeship to become an Able Seaman, and has been for centuries. In modern times, an OS is required to work on a ship for a specific amount of time, gaining what is referred to as "sea time." Once a sufficient amount of sea time is acquired, the OS can apply to take a series of courses, and then a series of examinations to become certified as an able seaman.An OS is generally not required to stand watch, but must pass examinations on watchstanding skills such as performing lookout duty and being a helmsman. Thus an OS will often be found on a ship's bridge after working hours taking a turn at the ship's wheel or being familiarized with bridge equipment.During the apprenticeship, an OS performs a variety of duties concerned with the operation and upkeep of deck department areas and equipment. These duties vary with the type of ship, the type of voyage, the number of crewmembers, the weather, the supervisor, and any number of other variables. However, in most cases, one can expect an ordinary seaman to clean, to perform maintenance, to work with deck equipment, and to undergo on-the-job-training under the supervision of senior deck department members. - Wikipedia
On 12/5 at 1810, the following has been entered into DANICA WHITE’s logbook:“OS XXX leaves the watch – does not wish to keep a lookout – believes that he is entitled to sit down.”
On 13/5 at 1000, the following has been entered: “no lookout”.On 21/5, shortly after DANICA WHITE left Sharjah, one of the OSs was signed off due to illness. After this, only two OSs were left on board.Subsequently, the master decided to stop the OSs’ sea watch. According to him, this decision was taken on basis of the fact that he did not want further discussions with the two OSs, who did not want to carry out the sea watch in addition to the cleaning and keeping up the maintenance of the deck. (Pages 16-17)
Before Sharjah, the two OSs participated in the sea watch as lookouts or helmsmen according to fixed schedule where the OS 1 had the watch from 00-06 and from 12-18 with the mate and OS 2 from 06-12 and from 18-24 with the master. OS 3 was the day man. They took turns every month.At one point, the day man replaced OS 2 (OS 4), because the master did not get along with OS 2.The OS on duty, worked with the day man within normal working hours (08-17). Therefore, it was only outside normal working hours that the ordinary seamen ran the bridge watch. The ordinary seamen received a contractual wage increase for the time spent on watch.After leaving Sharjah, the master cancelled the OSs’ sea watch, because they did not wish to run the sea watch and do work on deck and because the Master did not want any more arguments with them. Also the mate did not think there was a need for an OS on the lookout. (Page 10)
The pirates did not believe that there were only 5 men on board. (Page 11)
6.3 The WatchAccording to DANICA WHITE’s Minimum Safe Manning, the crew must consist of at least one Master, one chief officer and two ordinary seamen.
Furthermore, the ship normally has one OS and one cook on board.With three ordinary seamen on board, it is possible, in relation to the resting hours regulations, to let two of the ordinary seamen be on a 6-6 hour sea watch as navigators, and let the third OS operate as day man for the cleaning and run-down work on deck.During the actual sailing, there were only two OSs on board because the third had been signed off due to illness shortly before departure.With two ordinary seamen on board, it was still possible, in relation to the resting hours regulations, to let one OS take the lookout watch in the dark hours and also to clean the ship.During DANICA WHITE’s passage off the coast of Somalia, a sail of 8 – 9 days and nights should have established an increased lookout, as recommended in MSC/Circ.623, and as stated in the ship’s procedure for piracy under the wording “Stay alert”. This could have been done with two OSs on board, however the time to do any other work would have been very limited, if the resting time regulations were to be observed. (Pages 21-22 )During this sailing, only the navigator on duty was on the bridge because the Master had decided that the OSs were not to take the sea watch. The navigator on duty was therefore the only one on the lookout, also in the dark and no increased lookout had been established, even though the sailing took place in an area where there is a risk of pirate attack. Lastly, the Master was alone on the bridge during the pirate attack, occupied with other things than the sailing of the ship and the lookout.Under these circumstances, the watch on DANICA WHITE was insufficient. (Pages 21-22)
Here is what the Danish Maritime Authority has to say about Minimum Safe Manning:
All passenger ships, cargo ships of 20 gross tonnage or more, and cargo ships of less than 20 gross tonnage engaged in international trade, must have a Minimum Safe Manning Document. In Denmark each Minimum Safe Manning Document is issued to the individual ship. A shipping company may also apply for a preliminary decision on minimum safe manning before registering in the Danish International Ship Register (DIS). Contact the Danish Maritime Authority’s Centre for Seafarers and Fishermen for further information on e-mail: - DMA
Here is a summary of how to determine the minimum safe manning for a vessel.
You can find the English translation of the DANICA WHITE piracy report here.