Man Transfer at Sea, the British Way
You may have seen or heard of ships exchange goods and people by cable out at sea. You can compare it with a ski lift over water. In the navy, this procedure is called a "transfer by light jack stay". When you hear a term like that, you get curious and want to know more about.   There's a pole with welded hooks positioned on the starboard side (to the right) of our ship, between the first and second crane. This pole is for hanging up cables and lines to transfer persons and goods from one ship to another while at sea.

The procedure of transferring persons and goods, goes as follows:
The other ship pulls up alongside on the starboard side. Both ships move at a speed of 6 knots and the distance between the two is approximately 60 feet. The other ship will shoot a thin line, called a gun line (propelled by a rifle) at our ship. Our crew hauls this gun line in. Meanwhile, the crew on the other ship fastens two thicker cables onto the gun line: the distance line and the outhailer. These two cables are also pulled on board our ship.

The distance line is immediately tied onto the front of our ship. The distance line is marked by colored flags. These flags give the bridge an indication of the distance between the two vessels. A sailor on the other ship keeps the line firm. Meanwhile, the other ship has hooked the light jack stay on the outhailer. We then hoist the light jack stay on board and hang its loop hole in the snap hook. A snap hook can be unhooked quickly and at any moment, just in case something goes wrong. We once had a small fishing boat trying to pass between the two ships.

As soon as the light jack stay is securely fixed onto the snap hook, it's pulled straight by 30 sailors on the other ship. The number of 30 persons has been dictated by the Royal Dutch Navy. When the crew consists of male and female, the Dutch Navy regulation require a number of 35 people pulling the light jack stay. On top of the light jack stay is a pulley called the traveller block. The outhailer (from our ship) is fixed to one side and the inhailer to the other (from the other ship). With these two lines the light jack stay can be pulled back and forth between the two ships.

  When all is set, a 100 kilo test weight is transferred over the water. Only if everything goes well, a person will be transported. This person is placed in a sling. This is a belt hung tightly around the chest and slipped under the armpits. The sling is fixed to the light jack stay. The light jack stay is pulled firm and there we go...with the outhailer the person is pulled aboard our ship. When he or she arrives over the ship, the light jack stay is given some slack and the visitor slowly lands on deck. Luggage or goods are tranferred in the same manner. The use of a sling is customary in the Dutch Navy. The US Navy uses a small cage to transport persons.
As soon as the transaction has finished, the lines are cast off, the two crews stand in line and salute each other. Being polite is something that still counts at sea. After saying good bye, the other ship distances itself from our ship.

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