Ship Stowaways: Guidance and Checklists



( The UK P&I Club as well as North Of England P&I club have issued stowaways checklist to provide guidance and steps for preventing and dealing with stowaways.

According to the UK P&I club checklist, the following steps are recommended:

  • Prior to and during a ship’s call at any port, it will be necessary to ensure all relevant sections of the ISPS Code are implemented particularly regarding the ship’s gangway and dock areas. All access points should be secured.
  • Ensure there is always a member of the ship’s crew manning the gangway who is closely monitoring all persons embarking and disembarking. Additional precautions such as CCTV should also be used where available.
  • On ro-ro vessels the ramp should be monitored at all times and any access points on deck should be locked so that the vessel cannot be penetrated.
  • Agents should obtain and provide the ship with a list from the stevedore company that clearly identifies the number of stevedores working on the ship. It is essential that stevedores only embark and disembark by the ship’s gangway and their movements are constantly monitored whilst onboard.
  • All visitors that are expected on the ship should be known to the ship’s master, the crew member assigned to gangway watch duty and the agents, with their expected time of arrival and clear details of their intended business onboard. All visitors should be instructed to report to the crew member assigned to gangway watch duties in the first instance.
  • Be vigilant for any persons who may be trying to board the ship by mooring ropes or small boats at the waters edge. This is particularly important when the ship is berthed at night.
  • It is essential that the ship is searched prior to departure, including all dark and difficult to access areas. This should include areas that are thought to be locked/secured. Empty bays on container vessels and empty holds on bulk/general cargo vessels should be searched. In some circumstances it may be prudent to engage an external search company to assist with a search prior to the ship’s departure.

In case a stowaway is found onboard, The Club recommends briefly to take the following measures:

  • Once the presence of a stowaway has been detected it is important to inform the owners and the port agents.
  • It is the responsibility of the agent to advise the local authorities of the stowaway’s presence
  • It can be very useful to search the area where the stowaway was found
  • Ensure that the stowaway’s clothing has been searched
  • The stowaway must be photographed and interviewed
  • Once the above information has been obtained, it should be reported to the Club and/or the local correspondent
  • While the stowaway remains onboard, he should be fed and allowed access to basic items such as bed and toilet
  • It will be necessary for the stowaway to be kept secure at all times

Please click images below to download the Stowaway Checklist issued by the UK P&I Club and the Stowaway Guidance issued by North Of England P&I club containing checklist and questionnaire.

Stowaway_checklistStowaways NEPIA

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  2. It's all very well to come up with yet another checklist and valuable as it is, it needs to be seen in context with other checklists and the collective burden of these that is placed upon the Master and Crew.
    There is the ever present precept by shipowners/operators to do more with less to keep operating costs to a minimum. Providing more manpower to permit all these checklists to be followed in full is not an option with the reality being that only a token gesture can be made particularly with large vessels, undermining any benefits the checklists might give. The ISPS Code, the ISM Code in fact all the codes associated with MARPOL and SOLAS and the checklists associate with them all sound wonderful within the marbled halls of IMO and indeed do contribute to an improvement in ship standards. However ask any serving seafarer for his or her opinion of these and they will see it in terms of paperwork, more and more of it, preventing little things like ship maintenance, watchkeeping, cargowork etc being done properly!
    So to get back to this checklist, yes it's valuable, however why does it have to be done by the crew? In other words why for example does the shipowner not pay for a security firm to carry it out in port and report any findings to the Master. Probably because checklists are cheap, implementation is not.