Out-of-work chefs seeking naval employment during coronavirus crisis

An Estonian Navy (Merevägi) vessel.
An Estonian Navy (Merevägi) vessel. Source: ERR

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have led to a surge in chefs seeking work on Estonian Navy (Merevägi) ships, according to a report on ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Monday night.

Whereas in the past the navy had to choose between just a handful of applicants per post, now there are around 20 per post, the segment, presented by ERR's Priit Kuusk who himself served as a ship's cook on the Admiral Bellingshausen voyage to Antarctica in the second half of 2019, reported.

At the same time, considerations of the realities of working in a ship's galley were paramount – something that many candidates do not have on their resumes.

"This kitchen, or - as we say - the galley, which candidates are applying for, leaves shore and oscillates [at sea]" said commander of the Estonian Navy, Cdre Jüri Saska.

Each vessel carries two cooks responsible for feeding up to 40 mouths. Voyages can last from five days, to five months in the case of a NATO mission

A naval chef's tasks do not stop at preparing food; he or she also serves as a doctor's assistant while at sea, meaning medicines as well as food sometimes have to be divvied up.

In reality, most medical needs concern minor injuries, the Commodore went on.

"Fortunately, so far we have had just dislocations, a few isolated fractures, knocks to the hand, elbow or head, falls," Saska said.

Since the emergency situation began last month as a result of the pandemic, the Estonian Navy's vessels have mostly been at sea, for short intervals, with tasks including taking shopping consignments to those in quarantine, such as family members at seamen's homes.

"The initiative saw between 15 and 20 shopping bags, which we carried out...We used the Navy Officers' Club ( Laevastiku Ohvitseride Klubi), which is an NGO," Saska said.

There are four vacant naval chef positions at present, according to the report.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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