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Notebook 3: On my balcony

Text by Marie Sophie JOUBERT , Special correspondent on board the Floréal in the Indian Ocean

Latest update : 2009-03-04

Our special correspondent Marie-Sophie Joubert is aboard the Floréal frigate, accompanying a military manhunt for Somali pirates. She finds the casual nature of smoke breaks belie the gravity of the ship's mission.

Monday, March 2, 2009


There are six of them. Six red dots that intensify with every gust of wind. The smokers gather at the top of the boat, despite us being in the blackest night.


Our sole illumination is the stars. We are in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and it’s about 10 pm, the temperature is 32 degrees. The waters are still and the boat is rolling along peacefully.


Whether in the kitchen, at the bottom of the building, on a private balcony or one of the boat’s bridges, all smoking areas are the same. Everyone chats, jokes around. The conversations are almost personal. We could stay there all night.


Our eyes gradually grow accustomed to the dark. Silhouettes come into view - among them, two members of the EPE, the protection crew.


We are aboard with 107 manhunting experts to go after Somali pirates who have taken over a military frigate, as well as a helicopter, missiles, and canons.


Far off in the distance are three dots of light, marking the boat known as the Victoria. It’s a food transport boat that our own boat, the Floréal, has to bring ashore to its destination in Mogadishu.



Date created : 2009-03-02