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Discovery of stowaways onboard ship -Emergency procedures, confinement, arrangement for disembarkation & deportation

It might be difficult or inconvenient to maintain tight security to prevent stowaways from getting on board in the first place and conduct thorough searches before sailing. It is infinitely less of a problem than dealing with the problem of allowing stowaways to sail with the vessel. Despite taking the best precautions, unfortunately, stowaways still being discovered onboard ships. It is particularly true in some African ports due to local political unrest, war, and other socio-economic turmoil. While migrant seekers desperate to leave their country, they target merchant ships, notably those, are Europe or America bound.

The carriage of stowaways on board is consequential for a ship owner's business; the ship could be delayed in port; the repatriation of stowaways might be very complex, which would involve shipmasters, shipowners, port authorities, agents, and a P & I, representative. Furthermore, the life of stowaways could be endangered as they may spend several days hidden, with the risk of suffocation and without any water/provisions. Therefore, it is for the best interest of all best management practices to be implemented to deter stowaways from boarding a vessel.

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Image credit: West of England P& I Club

Some stowaways will try and make use of the ship's rudder trunking as a hiding place. Stowaways will enter the rudder trunk when it is close to the water line and easily accessible by small craft. The stowaways will then ride in the rudder trunk until their chosen destination. A thorough search of this area before every ship sails should prevent the likelihood of this happening, as shown in the picture. Consideration should also be given to placing a metal grid above the opening to the rudder compartment, making it impossible for stowaways to enter the space.

After sailing out from a port, if stowaway found on board ships, the crew should treat them properly with due respect for human rights. We have summarized below some key guidelines for emergency dealing and safe repatriation.
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