Nautical Officers Assistance on a Heavy-Lifter from the Briese Schiffahrts GmbH & Co Kg , Leer/ Germany
Very slowly moves the vessel in the small fjord in Skjerstadfjorden, which is located in the north of Norway (pictures 1, 2).
On shore are standing some people, they are greeting and taking pictures, just like me.
My name is Eike Weißenborn, I'm 20 years old and working since September 2016 as a nautical officers assistance (NOA) on the heavy-lifter BBC Germany.
After six month, at sea I want to study for becoming a nautical officer.

I'm sailing boats since I'm four years old, so it is no surprise that the job of my choice is at sea.
The sun is shining at this morning, like the three days before when we were sailing along the beautiful Norwegian coast (picture 3).
Our next port is Rognan; it is a small village at the end of the fjord.
The berth is just a few meters longer than our vessel and located in front of rock formations (pictures 4, 5).

We were loading one container and one big cable drum. After securing the cargo by lashing chains and stoppers, we started our passage back through the fjord. It was already dark when we prepared the pilot ladder and we saw impressive slowly moving polar lights.
Norway was one of the most beautiful passages in these first three month, but my journey started somewhere else.

It was the morning of the 30th of august, when my parents brought me to the airport in Bremen. After saying my parents many times goodbye, I had my first flight from Bremen to Amsterdam.
The second flight was from Amsterdam to the airport in Panama City and had a duration of eleven hours. I was not the only one who arrived with the destination BBC Germany in Panama.

Also the captain, 2nd engineer, 3rd engineer, electrician, motorman and AB were at the airport. We were brought to a hotel in Balboa (picture 6) and on the next to a port where a boat took us to the BBC Germany which was near the coast at anchorage between some other vessels.
After our boarding and the departure of the crewmembers we changed, my first miles on board of a vessel as NOA started.
And they started very good because we were passing through the Panama Channel. It was interesting to see that trains are pulling the ships before and in the locks (picture 7).
Our port after the Panama Channel was Houston in Texas (pictures 8, 9). This was the first time I have been in Amerika and the first time I had to do gangway watch.
It is the task of me and one OS to stay in every port six after six hours at the gangway and fill in the gangway logbook with the data from the visitors.

Furthermore am I responsible for hoisting the flags at sunrise and taking them down again at sunset.
On sea am I working from the morning until lunch on deck and after lunch on bridge.
My usual working day starts with breakfast at 07:30 in the mess room. At 08:00, the deck crew meets near the workshop and the bosun explains what has to be done today. In Russian of course, because the hole crew is Russian or Ukrainian with one exception, me.
After that he explains to me my task in English or whom of the crew I should assist in his work.
Examples for my work on deck are removing rust, grinding, painting, cleaning, stowing and securing gear, testing the lashing of the cargo, preparing pilot ladder and assisting in mooring operations by preparing heaving-lines, operating mooring winches and handling the mooring ropes (pictures 10, 11).
On bridge am I for example correcting charts and the Admiralty Catalogue, preparing a passage with the necessary charts and nautical publications for practice.
Alternatively, I'm assisting the officer in his duties like testing the EPIRB, SART, GMDSS and emergency signal equipment, making entries in the chart or working with navigational devices like AIS, GPS, ECDIS, compass and radar.
It is my intention to have an impression of every work, which has to be done on a vessel. Therefore, I am going to work at many places on the vessel and at many places all over the world, because Houston was just the beginning of a long journey.
Our next ports have been Freeport, Newport News in Virginia, Antwerp in Belgium, Rotterdam in the Netherlands (picture 12), Skjerstadfjorden in Norway, a passage through the Suez Channel in Egypt (pictures 13, 14), Hamriyah, Jebel Ali, Ras Al Khaimah, Musaffah and Fujaihra in the United Arabian Emirates, the kingdom Bahrain and Mumbai in India (pictures 15, 16).
During this first three month it was possible to see many things like dolphins, wales, flying fish, pelicans beautiful landscapes or nothing but the sea at 360 degrees around the vessel.

I also experienced the poor living conditions in Mumbai in contrast to the futuristic skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi (picture 17).
Furthermore there was very interesting cargo like the large ones we discharged in Houston, the parts of a crane which we carried from Antwerp to the SAQR port Ras Al Khaimah (picture 18)

or an Ampelmann which is a special gangway for offshore vessels (picture 19).

It moves by itself to compare the movement of the vessel and this makes it possible to use the gangway even at rough sea.
In the Suez Channel, my three month on the BBC Germany came to their end.

After a flight from Cairo over Frankfurt to Bremen the next three month on the sister ship BBC Scandinavia are beginning in Bremerhaven.

In addition, they are starting very good, because we are in a dry dock (pictures 20, 21).

Therefore, I am looking forward to the coming experiences in the next three month as a NOA on a heavy-lifter.

Eike Weißenborn

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