The phone rings, it’s 02:12 hours. Why is it always between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.? It’s not going to be good news. The options run through my mind in the 20 seconds before lifting the receiver. Collision, grounding, fire, engine breakdown, fatality—after 40 years you’ve dealt with them all, but every one is different. Lift the receiver and listen very carefully, you can’t afford to get the facts wrong. It’s the Master of the Star Harrier, he’s in panic mode shouting down the satellite phone, "We’re under piracy attack, there are eight skiffs, four on each side of the vessel, they are closing fast." There is an echo on the phone so every word is duplicated. Take a deep breath, speak calmly. The questions come automatically: "Is there anyone injured?" "No." "What is the vessel’s position?" "... degrees … minutes north ... degrees ... minutes east." "Have you reported the attack to the anti piracy forces?" "Yes." "Have they given a response time?" "No." I can hear shouts and static from the bridge VHFs (Very High Frequency radios); it almost feels like I'm there. MORE

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