Skip to main content

1421 IN 2012

The training ship PLAN Zheng He 81 left Surabaya, Indonesia on September 07, 2012 and is now visiting Brunei at Muara Port.  She embarked young Officers of the Indonesian and Brunei navies in Surabaya for the passage to continue their training under the PRC PLAN concept. 

NAUTICAL LOG has been  re-reading 1421 and 1434 by Gavin Menzies (Lt.Cmdr. RN Ret.) and it is very interesting to compare the concept of the Chinese Emperors to the present day PRC methods of building contacts and influencing other nations.  When Gavin Menzies was completing his Cadet and Midshipman service in the British Royal Navy NAUTICAL LOG was serving as Cadet and Deck Apprentice in the Merchant Navy during the same time period.  In his book 1434 he writes of how multi-national the RN was and how Officers were expected to learn the culture of those serving with them. 

In the MN it was even more so and included something of the language, the ships with Laskar (from Pakistan, India and Ceylon) crews had separate storerooms and three galleys for the Officers and Ratings, Hindu, Muslim and Christian all with cooks of the particular religion.  Since we also had Chinese carpenters and fitters Chinese food was available usually cooked in the Christian galley which was staffed by Goanese. 

All religious holidays were respected and time off during the day from work for prayers was given.  The caste system was in place on board and the Tópas did the sweeping both on deck, inside and cleaned the heads.  We had a Butla Sahib (Indian Chief Steward) who went with the Senior Sükunni (Chief Quartermaster) to open the Muslim storeroom each morning for the issuing of food supplies to the Muslim Bândari (crew cook) thus maintaining Halil requirements.

Sükunni sewing canvas - next task is his sock!!

There was a system of reimbursment by the Officers to crewmembers who did laundry for them and cooked and served when we had parties or a dance on board.  All told it was an interaction with mutual respect.  For example my Sükunni who was Muslim would say to me "Prayer time Mäjla Malim Sahib, which way Mecca please?" Given the direction he would go out on the Bridge wing and perform the afternoon prayer ritual having first washed at the deck fresh-water tap.  It was an excellent educational experience for a young Officer who himself was not very much into religion!!

So as this PRC "Harmonious Mission" of PLAN Zheng He 81 goes around the World it is well to remember that they too are having an excellent educational experience and greatly influencing those who come into contact and in particular sail in the vessel with them.

Good Watch.


Popular posts from this blog


A popular U.S.-based cruise ship style
A popular European ferry style

Several times during the year NAUTICAL LOG has had visitors searching for lifejacket instructions. With two just over Christmas we decided to publish something for everybody to see and read.
Choose a Coast Guard approved life-jacket and make sure it is undamaged. Make sure life-jackets are readily accessible, never locked away. Check the fit, there are adult, child and infant sizes, the correct one MUST be used. Choose bright colour life-jackets so as to be seen easily by Search and Rescue (SAR).Put your life-jacket ON BEFORE you leave the berth. Make sure you have a light and whistle attached AND they BOTH WORK.
Good Watch


Ships now operate under the International Management Code for Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (ISM Code).  Since this is a Post on Auditing NAUTICAL LOG, who is a Trained Auditor, will not go through the requirements as these can be found on the Internet and in your local nautical bookshop - you do have a bookshop hopefully as they are a dying breed.  There are two types of Audit an External Audit and an Internal Audit.

The External Audit consists of the Flag State or an outside Auditing Firm coming into the Company and going through all the Protocols, Procedures and associated Manuals.  They may also hold a drill simulating a situation in one of the Company's vessels and observe the results of the Shore Staff dealing with it.  NAUTICAL LOG has been through this experience with two very different Companies and believe me it is a long, difficult, trying day not made any easier by the subsequent debrief.  The External Auditor then prepares a Report which causes a…


This month saw the commissioning into the Irish Naval Service of a new Class of Irish Naval vessel more of the Frigate size than the previously Corvette size.  However they are all classed as Patrol vessels, the new vessel is LÉ Samuel Beckett P61.NAUTICAL LOG wishes her well and a successful service.

The older vessels saw unbelievable service and value for money the first being commissioned in 1979 and continued through the '80's and 90's into the 21st. Century.  During those years in addition to patrolling the stormy seas around the rugged Irish coast they made passages across the Western Ocean to the United States and Canada, south to South America as far as Argentina, and east to Asia as far as Korea.  Such passages are really remarkable for such small vessels and show the competence of Irish seafarers who as Naval Officers and Merchant Marine Officers train together.

Good Watch.