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Class 2006 Our Story? (Taming the Beast) part 4

Upon valentine's Day, we prepared the battalions, secured our partners and invited our parents as well as our foster parents for the event. During this time, we did almost the same program we had during the acquaintance party. The only difference is that this time, it will be a month to go and we will no longer be treated as pesky varmints but a little bit higher in the caste of mammals inside the Academy.

Finally, March came, suggesting what recognition day was drawing near. Recognition day is also called the batch pinning wherein our class seal. authenticated by our hardships will finally become a part of our uniform... of our pride. It was comforting to breathe the air of the seemingly endless world. The blue sky looked brighter; a hope for a new tomorrow crept in the nerves of our face that invited a smile for a job well done.

the end...

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Class 2006 Our Story? (Taming the Beast) part 3

Upon the graduation of class 2002, we were utilized as parading elements and most of the time, we were confined to our quarters to do things for them. It was encouragement for us, our hearts seeing the graduating class step into the pedestal of success while we were just beginning.

Then the month of September came, - the excitement of the Acquaintance party filled the air together with our beloveds, we watched the Silent Drill Company perform for the first time. Open house then followed. We made preparation to entairtain our guest. It was during this time when we introduced our family and friends to our upperclassmen. Later in the evening, we had our catered dinner at the Mess Hall. The band serenade us as we enjoyed our meals with our special guests. As the night went deeper, the dance floor got filled with overwhelming joy.

Semestral break finally came; and for the first time, midshipmen were allowed to go home.

Time passed swiftly and the cold breeze of December filled the Academy atmosphere. IT was a feeling of both happiness and anxiety, for everything we did pointed to our Christmas vacation, a time we plebes can finally spend wholesome hours with our families.

to be continue...

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Class 2006 Our Story? (Taming the Beast) part 2

As days passed by, our upperclassmen grew in number. Bursting with rage and loudness, the third classmen came; they were like an armada ready to clash. We seized every second and every split opportunity to know their names. We looked at their nameplates, uniform and even their slippers as well as every single clue that could tell us their identity. Our already crumpled world became smaller and smaller each day as the first classmen and the second classmen came aboard. Most of the time, we moved as if we had thousands of unaccomplished jobs, so as not to be caught in the limelight. Reporting, compliances and other rituals of the lowest mammal in the Academy seemed to be unending.

The mess hall, under its hollow structure could not accommodate silence against the shouts of our upperclassmen as well as our voices that needed to be raised to the highest power every time we made a statement. "Chow time" is a definition of "inverted meals"' "raising feet", "exaggeration", "the usual condiments" etc., exercises, new offenses, compliance and other similar things. Being the last to finish eating is a dining faux pas which eventually results in facing scary upperclassmen. If you are unlucky enough, you will end up at the back of the battalion for the due process, with unthinkable reporting as a supplement.

Formation time from reveille until the last muster could not be complete without double timing in place. Exercises then followed the sequence of typical events that a fourth class midshipmen always expected.

to be continue...

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Class 2006 Our Story? (Taming the Beast) part 1

(Taming the Beast)

A very short shore pass revitalize our weathered body and enthusiasm; it was again time for us to muster the courage that seemed to have gone on AWOL. Anticipation of the life that we would adapt inside the battalion , the mess hall as well as the action - packed daily routines made our hearts pound so hard it could be felt nautical miles away, and was subtly accompanied by a brief gulp of saliva.

As we neared the mighty gates of our deer PMMA, the sight of its mighty gates in a very bareen background stirred quirky feelings from within us. Our bodies seemed to shake together with the leaves that quivered as the warm breeze blew against the needles of the pine tress. With our left hand holding our luggage and the right on thrust position, we moved on the double toward our second home.

Entering the barracks was never easy, our feet needed a jostle to make a step. After arranging our thing and cleaning our quarters; the heads made us busy the whole day. It was quite all right during that time because only few of our seniors were onboard. Knowing that it would be quite sooner or later that the empty deck be infested by tyrant dragons, our senses wanted to slow every second that passed to delay our doom.

to be continue...

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Class 2006 Our Story? (Reinventing the Steel ) part 5

The last two weeks of the month seemed like a year-long showcase filled with unending riffle drills, mass punishments and other strenuous physical activities that defied our medical certificates and neuro exams; even if they held true amidst the tempest. The absence of tree canopies, the dusty brown fields and the extreme heat of the Zambalanean sun during the day evaporated every drop of sweat we made. The sight of an ice-cold bottle of cola being poured onto the soil in front of us buy an orientation staff while saying, "Those who want to resign can drink...," dried our throats; but for some, it dried their will and rung the quarter deck bell to signify their weakness and end their endeavor as probess.

Finally the day when we are accepted as part of the Corps of Midshipmen - the Oath taking Day.

A multitude of young lads once filled with courage and fears as a schooner were outnumbered in thirty one days of probation. We were told to embrace onto our emotions in the crowd; but the sight of our beloveds after a month of isolation without letters and phone calls, even a single picture brought tears of joy that we held back in our eyes. Our parents did not recognizes us because of the very dark complexion the sun had uniformly clothed as with, and the unbalanced atmospheric pressure that actually shrunk our skin to cling closer t our bones. For us, we had already tested our ships, but the long voyage was just about to begin.

the end...

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Class 2006 Our Story? (Reinventing the Steel ) part 4

A day later, our hairs were cut millimeters above our scalp. Those who overly treasured their good looks were sent home. We are also taught the proper posture and bearing of a cadet. One might think it easy but in reality, it is a posture that defies the longitudinal and transverse stress tolerance of our keel and framing system in short, unstabilized. It is a conglomeration of "heads up", "chin-in", "look straight ahead ", "shoulder's back and down" and "hands back"; all in one to forge a PMMA fourth class midshipman.

For the first two weeks, indoctrination of the regimental rules and regulations popularly known as the Triple R was facilitated. The tiresome daily routine of waking up very early and staying late at night made our eyelids heavy, but the presence of the Orientation Staff restricted even limited air to be gathered in our throats to make a discreet yawn. Many lost hope and missed the comfort of civilian life. We did not just become slim but actually became very thin. As our metabolism increased, we hungered like prisoners of war.

We are hungry yet strong; alive and kicking! We thirsted like desert soil in abyss to which a raindrop was bliss. Determination was the keyword for everything.

to be continue:

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Class 2006 Our Story? (Reinventing the Steel ) part 3

We finished the roll call and made our farewells to our love ones. It was a bitter-sweet moment for all of us. A goodbye to the familiar life and the joy of having a chance to new one.

We hoarded ourselves like oxen toward the gymnasium where our luggages were inspected. The meticulous inspection of our gadgets intensified the tensions that our weary mind and body was already subjected to. Yells from all angles of the celestial sphere could be heard from the orientation staff. Our ego was indeed deflated.

After the inspection, we headed to our designated barracks. Then and there we realized that our second home was not a home of privacy, not a home of comfort and worldly luxurious . It was surreal. Silence filled the alleways, the overheads and the bulkheads which were already empty, the dominant colors were gray and white. Truly, it is the place were boys are re molded into men, officers are curved, and characters tested and strengthened.

By noon, we found ourselves inside the mess hall to have our first meal inside the Academy. We were first allowed to do the usual way of eating we were accustomed to; but later, the art of square meal was injected in our dinning etiquette inside the mess hall. The meal routine was very uncomfortable, complementing the fact that chow time was indeed a big deal in PMMA. The once glazed upon MESS HALL became MESS HELL.

to be continue...

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Congrats bunkmate...


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Nearmiss Situation at Hamburg

We experienced some "unsafe situation" during our berthing at Hamburg, CTA terminal.The Hamburg Pilots handled the vessel very competently, for which we are thankful. Yet, we feel that we must try sincerely to prevent these "possible, but not SAFE" maneuvers. We had good weather conditions, no doubt, but there was very little margin for error, whether "Human", or Mechanical".

We are informed of a berthing delay at 0835 LT (Est Hbr POB 04/1900 LT) and anchored at Elbe Outer anchorage. We were to follow the two loaded Bulk carriers, who were proceeding to berths, past the "Kohlbrand Bridge". As such, after picking up the anchor (1250 LT), we were proceeding about 2 miles astern of these vessels. We anticipated that
near terminals, the Bulk Carrier (BC) will take some time to tie up.

At about 1300 LT, Pilot On Board (POB) informed us that the berth has been postponed to 1800 LT and we need to overtake these two BCs. We cannot establish, who generated or forwarded this information, as the SOF submitted by the agents or CTA, do not indicate this. About 30-40 minutes after change of Pilot at Brunsbuttle, pilot informed that the berthing has been set back again to 2000 LT and Harbour POB will be at 1900 LT, and we are needed to slow down, we proceeded at DS and Slow ahead speed from about 1630 LT onwards.

At 1820 LT, we were told that the berthing is further delayed, past 2000 LT and we have URGENTLY secure the vessel to "Finkenwender Dolphins"

Due to very late communication, proper arragement could not be made for this temporary berthing. From 1855 LT to 1925 LT, there were no mooring Boats or Line Men to secure the vessel to the Dolphins. 3 Panamax BCs 2 loaded: Arriving Hamburg and 1 in Ballast: Dep Ham passed us, while we were trying to maintain our positon in a flooding tide. In a channel 350 wide, 3 large ships were passing abeam of each other, at the same time, this is not desirable and very much avoidable. Even when the aft mooring Boat was available, it was finding it difficult to take our lines aft, due to strong propeller wash(Tug pulling) from the tug.

Paint damage and scratch marks at all 3 Dolphin fender locations, as the vessel moved forward and aft along the Dolphin Berth. It was not possible to hold the vessel steady along the dolphins
, while the tug moved away, or stopped operations, to let the aft Mooring Boat, take the ropes.

A boat was arranged by Ham agents and we did make a closer inspection on 05/1300 hrs and confirm that we only have limited area paint scratched up.

CONCLUSION: by 04/2012 LT the vessel was safely secured to the temporary berth (dolphin) and Pilots disembarked. At this point, we agreed with Pilots, that we will proceed to the berth position. We expected the next POB at about 04/2200 LT.


On the same day, at 04/2040 LT 2 Harbour POB and they wanted us to proceed to the berth, even though the berth will be occupied till 2200 LT. We did not, initially, agree with us, due to our recent past experience. At this point the POB verbally explained the passage plan (which would save us about 2 hours, and we were already overv24 hours late), to proceed stern first" past the berth and wait still quite uncertain, we requested for the second tug (on CTA a/c). at 2136 LT, while passing the HHLA Container terminal, POB informed us that the "OOCL Rotterdam" (LOA 323M, Beam 42.8M, 8063 TEU) is now ready to depart and wanted to cross us in the channel, just after our passing under the Kohlbrand Bridge, 0.75NM North from the berth position.

We did not agree to this new maneuvering situation and ask the POB to comply with our agreed plan. Our new North Sea Pilot, also agree with the Captain, that this new maneuver would neither be safer nor save any appreciable time, as compared to our previously agreed plan. Our POB did convey to the OOCL Rotterdam Pilot the the Master did not agree to this, but yet they mutually agreed to carry it out. What was thevconversation in German language, we don't know . Captain strongly informed the POB, that we do not agree to this new plan.

At 2023 LT, we safely passed the OOCL Rotterdam with the located BC's berthed close by. However, due to our approach to the 'turning circle' and required speed to maintain steering to pass the large vessel, we did go out of the turning circle, which was not intended.

  • There was a change from previously agreed Plan, which we did not accept, so there onwards, the "Bridge Team" functioning was affected.
  • While our POB was preparing for the Maneuver , the POB the "OOCL Rotterdam" announced that they have cast-off and left the berth (about 2145 LT). Our pilot was very upset that the "OOCL Rotterdam"<>
  • Our speed and angle of approach to ensure this crossing safely, resulted in our going past the "turning circle" limit which was not intended or desirable. instead of having a forward clearance of over 120M, we had only 40M clearance.
None, Fortunately, despite the many things that could go wrong, we were lucky enough, on this occasion, but, Good Luck, is not enough to ensure SAFE OPERATION.

  • We passedunder the bridge atv2155 LT and after turning around, we passed our "First Line Ashore" at 2246 LT. thus we can conclude that OOCL RTM may have, at most, saved less than 30 minutes, and by this uncalled for ossible, but not safe" maneuvere. It is quite possible, that the Master of the OOCL RTM also felt similarly about the situation, but could not ensure his POB act otherwise.
  • It happen s, on many ocasions that the POB ignores or acts against the Master's requirement for safe operation, thereby severely jeopardizing the effectiveness of the "Bridge Team".
  • As a Mariner, no Pilot willfully creates or looks forward to such unsafe situation. Yet, such situation are not uncommon. Maybe, we should re-consider and allow that the vessel's movement and Navigational Safety matters remain with the mariners and not over the terminals for whatever reasons.
  • It may be considered to install suitable "voice recorders" on the Navigation Bridge, which would prove to be of much help, to reconstruct the sequence of events, in case the situation did get out of control.

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Class 2006 Our Story? (Reinventing the Steel ) part 2

Our first day was truly memorable. The summer sun was high and scorchingly hot, the wind seemed to be hiding. as early as 8 am, pints of sweat poured out from our bodies drenching us wet all over. As we lined ourselves in queue towards the mighty portals of the academy, happy memories of our family, friends and acquaintances flashed back before us... yet so far intangible. With our luggage in one hand and our hearts and memories in the other, we can lead ourselves in unison toward our dreams and aspirations. This marked the beginning of the new chapter of our lives.

Minutes later, names were called. With luggage over the head, and legs on the double, we fell in line where the coast and the sea meets, a line that delineates the free unruly boy from a regimented, disciplined midshipmen. We stoods like stanchion posts in accordance to our designated companies. We were prohibited to make any movement not even to scratch an itchy nose.

The chronometer ticked and our muscles were growing stiff. Some fell to there feet while others quit before they fell, The attention of such ordeals leads many to the brink of early resignation. Only the strong hearted and determined remained. For weak hearts and flesh don't exist where undaunted spirits dwell.

to be continue....

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13 BLOGS on Friday the 13th

This will be the 13 post in this blog. I haven't been updating as much. It's because of two main thing. The first one is I'm started to report to my shipping company again, as you know its been seven months after my COC was released and still waiting for my first vessel assignment after I graduated.
The other thing is I just don't have anything to write about. Nothing is happening much over here right now. It's a sad conclusion but that's what it is.

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CLASS 2006 Our Story?

(Reinventing the Steel)

Our story started November 2002. Thousand of aspiring midshipmen pooled in examination centers from different parts of the archipelago to take the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy entrance examination. It was here where the capable were separated from the more capable. After the results were released, we headed our way to San Narciso, Zambales; the home of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy. We underwent medical and neuropsychiatric examinations as a prerequisite to the Probationary or Indocrination period. Some were humdingers but physically unfit, while others had Herculean physique and untainted health, but were psychologically unqualified. The sea needs both - the physical and mental fitness. Of the tons of thousands who tried their luck, many returned home and only few hundred remained.

After the rigorous medical and neuropsychiatric examinations; cheers and anticipation soaked our horizons as we waited for the day would be called "Probees", the day we would be labeled boondoggles. Our remaining days as carefree civilians were spent with our love ones. Preparation like packing dozens of white underwears, printed T-shirts, prayer books, and other authorized personal effects were done. We were prohibited to bring cell phones, stereos, wristwatches, and other things which a civilian enjoyed as a luxuries of life; even meager food and water were not exempted.

to be continue:

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Shipmate for the month of JULY

Von Carlo Garcia
saturn section
birthday: november 23 1985

company: osg
single for christ * sword sponsor * 4cl assistant section marcher (atlantic section) * 3CL assistant section marcher (asia section ) * alpha 4th assistant quarter commander *
previous vessel: mt keymar
"i find the grest things in this world are not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. to reach the part of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it but we must sail, and not drift, not lie at anchor".

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Shipmate for the month of JULY part 2


The hardship of cadetship have finally ended.

But as i look into my horizon, the vast oceans are waiting to be conquered. Let us be like ships that wondered endlessly. answering the call of the sea.

The twist of glory in the journey of my life could not have been possible without God. He guided me and gave purpose to my life thank you Lord.

I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to my family and all my love ones for their love and support. You have always been my inspiration.armor and strength to pursue my dreams in traveling the road less traveled.

To my classmates, I will always pray and hope for your success. We are one, we are brothers, and are full blooded PMMAer's.

memorable ports
San Franisco CA. USA - Mizushima, Japan
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - Anchorage, Alaska
Sydney, Australia - Ulsan, Korea
Longbeach, Ca. USA - Singapore
Vancouver, Canada - Dumai, Indonesia
Los Angeles CA. USA - Seria, Brunei

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