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UK P&I Club advises how to minimise the risk of stowaways on board ship

Stowaways continue to board vessels in ports far too frequently, especially in South Africa where the frequency of these incidents has significantly increased over the last two months. With South African law stating that it is the ship owner who is liable for the full costs of repatriating any stowaways found in South African ports, stowaways can cause significant costs for ship owners.

Stowaways often take the following steps when attempting to board ships and ship owners should familiarise themselves with these in order to better guard against incidents:

  • Stowaway incidents largely occur late at night or early morning
  • Their clothing will easily blend in with stevedores wearing reflective clothing and hardhats
  • Stowaways will board by climbing berthing ropes, through gangways and hiding in empty containers
  • They may also bribe security officials to enable them to board vessels

In order to minimise the chance of stowaways making it onboard, UK P&I recommends taking the following measures:

  • Where possible, private security should be employed by ship owners to patrol the quayside
  • A crew member should be positioned at the bottom of the gangway and ensure that every person boarding the vessel is in possession of a TNPA port permit and should refuse to let anyone without a permit board the vessel
  • Every visitor to the vessel must have ISPS clearance
  • All visitors should surrender their port permit to security when boarding a vessel and only collect it when leaving the ship
  • If anyone wanting to board does not have a permit, a crew member should contact the terminal/berth security to ascertain who the individual is and whey they do not have a TNPA port permit
  • Crew must not allow any individuals to push past them on the gangway as once they leave it they are classed as a stowaway
  • Where possible, keep the gangway raised at all times and only lower it once any visitor wishing to board has already had their identity verified
  • Gratings over hawse pipes should be secured when vessel is at anchor or alongside
  • If possible, a roving lookout is to be used on the upper deck to monitor any potential access via mooring lines

By taking the required steps and remaining properly prepared, ship owners can effectively guard against incidences of stowaways, and avoid the large costs associated with their removal.


Source: UK P&I Club


November 2016
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