National News

Truong Sa so close: Crew of special voyages

FRIDAY, 25/05/2018 22:48:14

There were times when foreign ships followed close behind the KN-491 ship with provocative actions; however, the crew members always dealt with them calmly.

Lieutenant Nguyen Thanh Hai, captain of the KN-491 fisheries resources surveillance ship

They are sailors of KN-491 fisheries resources surveillance ship under the 4th Fisheries Resources Surveillance Branch with the tasks of law enforcement at sea, search, rescue, protection of fishermen, transport of people visiting officers and soldiers on duty in the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago and on the DK1 platform, and execution of other duties ordered by their superiors.

Ship is home, sea and islands are homeland

A group of Hai Duong provincial officials on the KN-491 ship left for the Truong Sa archipelago and DK1 platform from Cam Ranh military port (Khanh Hoa) on May 13.

Aside from the group from Hai Duong, there were nearly 10 other groups from some agencies, units, and localities in the country with a total of more than 200 people on board.

In 2018, this was the last visit of delegations to the officers and soldiers who were protecting the Truong Sa archipelago and DK1 platform.

At 8 o'clock, the ship was ordered to depart from the port. The crew of 27 and 19 members of the service team got into position to perform their tasks.

After having got the nod from Rear Admiral Doan Van Chieu, Deputy Political Chief of the Navy High Command, head of the delegation, we met the crew in the cockpit of the ship.

Talking to us, Lieutenant Nguyen Thanh Hai (34 years old), captain of the KN-491 ship, said his native land is Quang Ninh district (Quang Binh). Several years ago, his family moved to Nha Trang city (Khanh Hoa). His parents, working at the Naval Academy, were the impetus for Hai to attend the academy after high school graduation.

To ensure a safe trip for delegates, it takes them at least three days for preparation, from cleaning all 250 rooms on the ship to washing blankets, mosquito nets, pillows, cushions, etc.

There are three teams on the ship, namely a machine team, a maritime team, and an information team, and the teams are divided into pools.

From the beginning of the year, this was the 4th time the KN-491 ship had taken officials and citizens to the Truong Sa archipelago and DK1 platform. Each trip lasted 9 - 10 days.

According to Lieutenant Hai, the 27 sailors live and work together for up to 11 months a year; therefore, they consider each other as siblings. They often tell each other: "This ship is our home, and the sea and islands are our homeland."

The families, wives, children, and lovers of many of the 27 crew members of the KN-491 ship live very far away. Each year, the sailors are allowed to return home 25 - 35 days. Some from Northern provinces have even not been home for two years.

"We are entitled to take leave once every year, but everyone often gives it up to each other. I myself have a lover in Ha Noi, but I have not returned home for two years. I should have been on leave last Tet (Lunar New Year), but one of the crew members got married, so I conceded the leave to him," said Lieutenant Do Dang Dai (28 years old) from Ung Hoa (Ha Noi).

Our sea, our islands

During some trips from the mainland to the Truong Sa archipelago and DK1 platform, the KN-491 ship encountered foreign ships many times, according to Lieutenant Ngo Minh Phuc, Secretary of the Party Cell cum Commissar of the KN-491 ship.

There were times when foreign ships followed close behind the KN-491 ship with provocative actions; however, the crew members always dealt with them calmly.

"This is our sea, and these are our islands, so there is nothing to fear. We navigate the ship in accordance with international maritime law," said Lieutenant Phuc.

The transport of an overseas Vietnamese group to the islands in early 2018 was the most memorable to Lieutenant Phuc over three years of operating the KN-491 ship.

"Most members of the group were over 70 years old, some were even 90, but they were still determined to visit their fatherland's islands amidst the sea. When the ship left the islands, the overseas Vietnamese looked back until the islands were out of their sight," said Lieutenant Phuc.

To Lieutenant Nguyen Thanh Hai, the voyage of officials and citizens to the islands early last April touched him deeply.

"The southwest monsoon was strong, at levels 9 - 10, making the sea very choppy. Most members of the delegation were seasick. However, upon arrival at the islands, everyone carried gifts for presentation to officers and soldiers there without reminding each other. Because of rough waves, the ship could not dock at the DK1 platform; therefore, the members of the delegation sang to encourage officers and soldiers. Most of them went to the islands for the first time," said Lieutenant Hai.

The Hai Duong provincial group visiting the Truong Sa archipelago and DK1 platform this time consisted of 19 people, including representatives of leaders of several departments, boards, branches, localities, and reporters, under the leadership of Mr. Nguyen Hong Son, Member of the Provincial Party Committee's Standing Board, Head of the Provincial Party Committee's Popularization and Education Board.

Before leaving for Truong Sa, the group offered incense at the memorial site dedicated to Gac Ma soldiers in Cam Lam district (Khanh Hoa). The center of the site is a main statue complex named "Those laying down their lives on the horizon" with an "immortal circle" symbol created from 64 soldiers holding each other’s hands with the determination to protect the national flag to confirm the Vietnamese sovereignty on Gac Ma island.

At the memorial site, there also are an underground museum, which stores and preserves objects related to the life and families of the Gac Ma martyrs, Hoa Binh square facing the East Sea, and empty tombs of the 64 martyrs who heroically sacrificed their lives on March 14, 1988.


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