Israel Navy sergeant on boat 370.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
Even for the most devoted aquaphiles, living on a navy ship is not an easy
Everything is compact – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom – and there is
little room to store personal items. The beds are half the size of standard
“The hardest part to get used to is the feeling that you’re always
moving,” says Sgt. Nitay Efergan, who is serving in the Israel
Raised by Israeli parents in Ocean City, Maryland, Efergan lived
minutes from the beach. Endless summer days were spent fishing, swimming and
So when his family made aliya when he was 15 years old, Efergan
never thought he would be so close to the ocean again, let alone living on
Today, instead of building sandcastles on the shore as in his
childhod, Efergan can be found in the middle of the sea, stationed by the Gaza
border. He and his shipmates are always on call, making sure no one illegally
crosses into Israel.
“It doesn’t matter what time it is, the ship always
has to be ready to go out to sea.
If someone tries to cross the border
one night, I don’t sleep.”
Even when the ship is docked, Efergan and his
shipmates sleep inside it. It is their home. Every morning they wake up early to
check that everything is still working. If something goes wrong, they are the
ones responsible for repairing it.
Efergan recalls one afternoon when the
engine suddenly turned off.
“There was no one to fix it. I had to fix it
with a few friends and it took until 4 a.m.
Work here isn’t
The constant upkeep isn’t the only difficult aspect of living on a
ship in the middle of the ocean. Efergan has also encountered dangerous weather
like four-mete-high waves and freezing rain.
“When rain is pouring on me,
when people are throwing up, when I’m wet and cold, sometimes I can’t even bear
to be in my own skin.”
Still, he says his time in the navy has been
worthwhile. He compares his shipmates to brothers, lifelong friends. He also
recently took a course to become a chief engineer, studying the complex makeup
of engines and ships.
“Before I got here, I couldn’t tell you anything
about a motor, a car. Now when I go home I can fix my car. I could probably make
a career out of it. I didn’t have to pay a cent.”
Efergan hopes the
strength he has acquired in the navy follows him throughout his
Nothing he might choose to pursue, Efergan added, could be harder
than what he encountered in his service.
Although he doesn’t plan on
returning to the Ocean City beach of his childhood, he knows he wants to live
near the sea.
“Living on the ship is like a job, but it’s still like
home. You only hear the ocean, the waves, the wind,” Efergan said. “It’s the
most spiritual thing you can imagine.”