Checklists and QuestionnairesQuestionnaires, pertaining to stowaways, must be placed onboard (filed) in case an interrogation has to be carried in the event of discovering a stowaway onboard. The checklists are kept in place as guidance to the Master to ensure that the best possible action is taken to avoid the entry of stowaways altogether. These might be made available in a variety of languages and can be sent to the appropriate Authorities in case a stowaway situation arises. The questionnaires are designed with the help or ARM International in Durban from years of experience and case studies
Summary of responsibilities under the IMO GuidelinesShipowners and Masters have specific responsibilities under IMO Guidelines on the Allocation of Responsibilities to Seek the Successful Resolution of Stowaway Cases. They are summarised below:
Determine the port of embarkation of the stowaway
Establish the identity and nationality of the stowaway
Prepare a statement with all the relevant information with regard to the stowaway for the appropriate Authorities
Notify the existence of the stowaway and related details to the ship owner, appropriate Authorities, port of embarkation port of call and Flag State
DO NOT depart from planned voyage to seek disembarkation of the stowaway to any country unless repatriation has been arranged and permitted, unless there are security and humanitarian reasons, such as injury or illness
Handover stowaway to the appropriate Authorities at the next port of call
Ensure health, security, welfare and safety of the stowaway until disembarkation
Inform appropriate Authorities with all info about the stowaway at the port of call, port of embarkation and Flag State
Comply with any removal directions made by the Authorities at the port of embarkation Onboard MeasuresSecurityAny violent behavior from the side of the stowaway must be considered. In this case, the safety of the crew must be taken into account; the crew must take full security precautions in this regard (for example, locking their cabin doors and not partake in unnecessary instigation of the stowaway by staying aloof, apolitical etc). A thorough search of the stowaway must be carried out for any sharp objects or objects that may cause harm. In this sense, the search should be strict and not violate the stowaway against their wishes, something along the lines of airport authorities! The stowaway must be kept at a secure location such as a cabin or store room to reduce the risk of escape thus inviting more legal headaches in case of an attempt to jump overboard. The more the number of stowaways, the more hectic this is. Extra precaution must be taken when approaching the port of call when these stowaways might try to jump overboard therefore incurring fines (on the side of the vessel) from the Authorities
Health and WelfareThe mental and physical health of the stowaway must be monitored. Risk of infectious diseases must be taken into account. Cine the stowaway to their quarters and keep contact with the crew to the bare minimum essential to survival, separating all crockeries and beddings (etc) used by the stowaway. Condition and treatment if administered must recorded
WorkWhile the anger and resentment from having a stowaway onboard might tempt the ship personnel to put him to work, this should be avoided. This is to prevent any suspicion from the port authorities as to how the stowaway gained access, prevent claims of wages and in general, keep the stowaway content till he is not a responsibility of the ship owner anymore!
The whole stowaway situation is a dicey one and as mentioned, must be handled tactfully to avoid any unnecessary costs or legal trouble and associated expenses.