11 Stowaways Discovered in UK Port of Southampton

stowaways found in UK port of Southampton
Car carrier Salome seen on a previous voyage - Wallenius Wilhelmsen photo

Published Oct 29, 2020 3:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Police were called to the Port of Southampton in the UK after reports of a group of stowaways having come off a vessel in port and trying to make their way out of the port. The incident came just days after a high-profile event in the English Channel and is being cited as another example of an ongoing problem.

The latest incident began on October 28 after the car carrier Salome, operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen, docked in the port of Southampton. The 43,800 dwt vessel arrived at around 7:30 am and commenced its operations. At midday, a group of 11 people was seen near one of the port’s gates trying to make their way into the city. The police were called and detained the group.

The police confirmed that it was a group of 11 people from Albania. One woman who was pregnant was taken to a local hospital and a minor, a 17-year old boy, was transferred to children’s services. The others are being detained and the incident is under investigation by the UK’s Border Force.

At a length of 870 feet and able to carry 6,000 vehicles, the Salome provided ample space for the stowaways to hide. It is unclear, however, where the stowaways came aboard. AIS data reports that the Salome was on a voyage from the US ports of Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia; Norfolk, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; and New York then crossing the Atlantic to Belgium, Germany, and France, before the call in Southampton.

A spokesperson for Associated British Ports that operates the terminals in Southampton said, “We are aware that the incident involving stowaways on the vessel MV Salome has now been resolved. ABP continues to support relevant government agencies with their investigations and is working with the shipping company and owners as required.”

The discovery of these stowaways is creating attention in the UK as it comes just days after another group of stowaways engaged in a confrontation with the crew of the 75,000 dwt tanker Nave Andromeda off the coast of the Isle of Wight. That resulted in a widely reported incident when a 16-member Special Boat Service boarding team boarded the vessel detaining the suspects. 

Commenting on the two stowaway incidents in a matter of days, a member of the British Parliament, Alan Whitehead, told the local newspaper the Southern Daily Echo, “I think this indicates stowaways have been getting onto ships for quite a long time and this is not a new thing.” He said it was a security concern, noting that he believes that port security takes seriously. Other members of the government said that they believed it was an economic issue that was bringing the stowaways to the UK.

The UK government has been reported as exploring different courses of action to stem the flow of migrants entering the country illegally. Speaking in Parliament in September, Chris Philp, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, said that the government was “working relentlessly to stop these crossings,” referring to the flow coming across the Channel from France. Saying “the crossings are dangerous, illegal and unnecessary,” he said, “they should simply not be happening and this Government will not rest until we have taken the necessary steps to completely end these crossings.”

The British media reported that the government explored sending migrants to a remote South Atlantic Island, placing them on offshore oil rigs, or detaining them on unused ferries for processing.