We recently noticed an increase in the number of stowaway discoveries, in particular to the United Kingdom.
Since the publication of our last stowaway update in October 2022, we have seen an ever tightening of the attitude of the UK immigration services towards stowaways. Whereas in the previous years stowaways were generally allowed to disembark (with shipowners being forced to pay a fine) it is now observed that UK authorities are simply refusing access to stowaways, at the same time threatening the Master that he will be exposed to criminal liability should stowaways be allowed to disembark from the vessel.
In recent cases we see that shipowners are now obliged to transport the stowaways back by ship to the port of origin. As a result, shipowners are faced with delays and extra costs, such as the requirement to put private security guards on board in order to ensure the safety of the Master and crew during the return journey.
Shipowners are therefore strongly encouraged to increase their efforts to ensure stowaways are either prevented from boarding the ship or are being discovered before departure.
Hereunder we bring to memory the most important prevention measures as highlighted in earlier NNPC publications:
- Limit access to the ship as much as possible and register visitors and shore personnel and check that they have actually disembarked before departure. Keep storage and living areas closed where possible;
- Always adequately illuminate the deck and possible access routes. The use of cameras is also recommended, of course taking into account privacy requirements;
- Always check containers, project cargo, nacelles and windmill blades (as far as possible) that no stowaways are hidden in them;
- Before departure, carry out the necessary searches for all rooms and locations where stowaways may have hidden and record the results in the logbook.
If stowaways are discovered it is advised to contact the NNPC claims team at once via telephone number +31 (0)50 5343211 (24/7) or via firstname.lastname@example.org.