Shipowners face huge costs from stowaways, says P&I Club

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The UK P&I Club has issued an advisory for shipowners on stowaways, pointing out that “with the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and the media attention this continues to receive, it is often easy to forget that the problem of stowaways is still a very real problem for shipowners.”

“The majority of stowaways are finding more creative ways in which to board ships,” points out Amanda Hastings, UK P&I Club claims executive, meaning steps may need to be taken to alter ship design.

For example, on many vessels stowaways can access the ship by climbing through the rudder trunk section, which can be prevented by retrofitting bars across it.

The Club recommends that on discovery of a stowaway, their presence must be made known to the owners, port agents and the ship’s P&I Club, and that the stowaway should be searched and questioned.

The ship’s Master should also produce a statement of the incident, confirming whether preventative procedures were followed.

“Shipowners should also be aware of the potential costs of disembarking stowaways, for example in Brazil, a straightforward repatriation can cost upwards of $30,000 per stowaway,” adds Hastings, that figure quickly increasing in the event of lengthy detention and/or subsistence/repatriation costs.

“If a stowaway is discovered once the ship has left port, dependent on location, shipowners may find it more cost effective to return to port and disembark the stowaway there, rather than risk higher costs in other jurisdictions, such as Brazil,” the UK P&I Club advises.