Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
Written in first person, Hostile Seas is Lieutenant Savidge’s account of her time aboard HMCS Ville de Québec while it escorted merchant ships delivering cargo from Mombasa, Kenya to Mogadishu, Somalia as part of the United Nations World Food Programme. During this voyage, she served as the naval frigate’s intelligence officer, whose job it was to report on pirate attacks as they directly or indirectly related to their mission. She shares poignant observations and memories of life aboard a ship in the Canadian navy, personal feelings, the ports she visited, and information about Somali piracy. As she states in the preface, this is not a detailed, comprehensive examination of that last item, but her insights provide readers with a different, more personal perspective.
With the exception of the first chapter, each begins with a quote from a newspaper or other publication mentioning a successful capture of a merchant ship or a yacht. These serve to show not only the upsurge in piracy, but also provide a time line of the mission. A growing list of the vessels held by the pirates concludes each chapter. Black-and-white pictures are interspersed throughout the book. In her afterword, Savidge provides release information on the crew and vessels captured off Somalia’s coast between July and December 2008. The Notes section provides both citations and URLs to the source material that she quotes. There is also a Nautical Glossary and a bibliography, but no index.
At the end of some chapters are fictional vignettes about Abdi, a young boy who grows up during the civil war that destroys his country and ultimately leads him to become a pirate. Its presence helps to make the story more personal, to see what life in Somalia through his eyes, rather than the eyes of those who fight against or who become victims of piracy.
Savidge does an excellent job of bringing to life the men and women she served with, the problems they encounter, and the strains each must deal with during a long deployment when they are separated from family and friends. When mechanical problems interfere with the ship’s mission, her account of the pirates’ attack on one of the WFP ships makes you feel as if you are on the frigate’s bridge, tensely awaiting news of what happens to the merchantman and her crew. Although the piracy information is dated, it is no less important, and her personal perspective and insights are a refreshing change from the more academic accounts that focus purely on Somali piracy.
Review Copyrighted ©2014 Cindy Vallar
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