The persons who have secreted or otherwise smuggled themselves onboard a vessel or in cargo despite the best efforts of the ship to prevent such persons from coming onboard are known as Stowaways.
Stowaway person is detected after the ship has departed from a port and reported as a stowaway by the master to the appropriate authorities. If detected before departure then the person is called an “ Attempted Stowaway ”.
Why do people stowaway?
- For Survival
- No opportunity available in the nation of origin for work
- Facing racial discrimination
- Raising standard of living
- Criminal wanting to escape law
- Drug carriers used by a drug cartel
- Threatened on an individual level
Problems associated with stowaways
- Disembarkation becomes an issue for the vessel and company.
- The stowaway needs to be kept under constant surveillance.
- He might hurt himself or others onboard.
- Causes problems with immigration authorities.
- May not be easy to ascertain the nationality of the stowaway.
- Additional expenses incurred through delays, repatriation and difficulty of accessing the correct government agency.
Action to be taken upon detection of stowaway
- Inform Owners, Charterer, last Port of call and next Port of call.
- Secure the stowaway.
- Question him and gather his personal belongings as evidence.
- Provide him with an accommodation and keep him under constant surveillance.
- Follow up with the office for the disembarkation of the stowaway.
Prevention of Stowaways
- Effective gangway control.
- Security patrol to be carried out, asymmetrical rounds to be taken on deck and around accommodation.
- Proper access control of vessel at all times.
- Monitoring of cargo, eg. empty container, RO-Ro cargo etc.
- Pre-Departure searches to be carried out for stowaways.
IMO Guidelines for Resolution of Stowaway Cases (1997)
- Adopted by Resolution A.871(20) which established basic principles to be applied in dealing with stowaways.
- Stowaway must be removed from the vessel as soon as possible. He should not be detained onboard indefinitely.
- Since he is an illegal entrant, stowaways acceptance or rejection is the prerogative of the country of arrival.
- Country of original port of embarkation to accept the return of stowaways.
- Stowaways should be dealt with humanity.
- Country of nationality must accept the stowaways once the nationality is confirmed.
Framework of Responsibilities
- to make every effort to determine immediately the port of embarkation of the stowaway.
- to make every effort to establish the identity, including the nationality/citizenship of the stowaway.
- to prepare a statement containing all information relevant to the stowaway, in accordance with information specified in the standard document annexed to the Guidelines as per IMO resolution A.871(20), for presentation to the appropriate authorities.
- to notify the existence of a stowaway and any relevant details to his shipowner and appropriate authorities at the port of embarkation, the next port of call and the flag State.
- not to depart from his planned voyage to seek the disembarkation of a stowaway to any country unless repatriation has been arranged with sufficient documentation and permission given for disembarkation, or unless there are extenuating security or compassionate reasons.
- to ensure that the stowaway is presented to the appropriate authorities at the next port of call in accordance with their requirements.
- to take appropriate measures to ensure the security, general health, welfare and safety of the stowaway until disembarkation.
Shipowner or Operator
- to ensure that the existence of, and any relevant information on, the stowaway has been notified to the appropriate authorities at the port of embarkation, the next port of call and the flag State.
- to comply with any removal directions made by the competent national authorities at the port of disembarkation.
Country of first scheduled port of call after discovery of the stowaway (port of disembarkation)
- to accept the stowaway for examination in accordance with the national laws of that country and, where the competent national authority considers that it would facilitate matters, to allow the shipowner and his named representative and the competent or appointed P&I Club correspondent to have access to the stowaway.
- to consider allowing disembarkation and provide, as necessary and in accordance with national law, secure accommodation which may be at the expense of the shipowner or agents, where:
- a case under (1) is unresolved at the time of sailing, or
- national authorities are satisfied that arrangements have been made and will be effected for the early return or repatriation of the stowaway by other means (which may be at the expense of the shipowner or agents), or
- a stowaway’s presence on board would endanger the safe operation of the vessel
- to assist, as necessary, in the identification of the stowaway and the establishment of his or her nationality/citizenship;
- to assist, as necessary, in establishing the validity and authenticity of a stowaway’s documents;
- to give directions for the removal of the stowaway to the port of embarkation, country of nationality/citizenship or to some other country to which lawful directions may be made, in co-operation with the shipowner and his nominated representative;
- in co-operation with the shipowner and his and his nominated representatives to discuss repatriation or removal arrangements or directions with the master/shipowner or their appointed representatives, keeping them informed, as far as practicable, of the level of detention costs, while keeping these to a minimum;
- to consider mitigation of charges that might otherwise be applicable when shipowners have cooperated with the control authorities to the satisfaction of those authorities in measures designed to prevent the transportation of stowaways;
- to issue, if necessary, in the event that the stowaway has no identification and/or travel documents, a document attesting to the circumstances of embarkation and arrival to enable the return of the stowaway either to his country of origin, to the country of the port of embarkation, or to any other country to which lawful directions can be made, by any means of transport;
- to hand over the document to the transport operator effecting the removal of the stowaway;
- to take proper account of the interests of, and implications for, the shipowner or agent when directing detention and setting removal directions, so far as is consistent with the maintenance of control, their duties or obligations to the stowaway under the law, and the cost to public funds.
The country of the original port of embarkation of the stowaway (i.e. the country where the stowaway first boarded the ship)
- to accept any returned stowaway having nationality/citizenship or right of residence;
- to accept, in normal circumstances, a stowaway back for examination where the port of embarkation is identified to the satisfaction of the authorities of the receiving country;
- to apprehend and detain the stowaway, where permitted by national legislation, if the stowaway is discovered before sailing either on the vessel or in cargo due to be loaded; to refer the intended stowaway to local authorities for prosecution, and/or, where applicable, to the immigration authorities for examination and possible removal: no charge to be imposed on the shipowner in respect of detention or removal costs, and no penalty to be imposed;
- to apprehend and detain the stowaway, where permitted by national legislation, if the stowaway is discovered while the vessel is still in the territorial waters of the country of the port of his embarkation, or in another port in the same country (not having called at a port in another country in the meantime) no charge to be imposed on the shipowner in respect of detention or removal costs, and no penalty to be imposed.
The apparent or claimed country of nationality/citizenship of the stowaway
- to make every effort to assist in determining the identity and nationality/citizenship of the stowaway and to document the stowaway, accordingly once satisfied that he or she holds the nationality/citizenship claimed;
- to accept the stowaway where nationality/citizenship is established.
The flag State of the vessel
- to be willing, if practicable, to assist the master/shipowner or the appropriate authority at the port of disembarkation in identifying the stowaway and determining his or her nationality/citizenship;
- to be prepared to make representations to the relevant authority to assist in the removal of the stowaway from the vessel at the first available opportunity;
- to be prepared to assist the master/shipowner or the authority at the port of disembarkation in making arrangements for the removal or repatriation of the stowaway.
Any countries of transit during repatriation
to allow, subject to normal visa requirements, the transit through their ports and airports of stowaways travelling under the removal instructions or directions of the country of the port of disembarkation.
A must read to understand ISPS code and tackle Stowaways! do remember ” Prevention is better than cure”, STOP them so you do not need to LAND them.