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Guidance for Preventing Stowaways Issued

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By MarEx 2016-02-21 00:59:07

International Registries, acting for the Republic of the Marshall Islands has issued a guidance document for preventing stowaways. Despite the implementation of the ISPS Code, preventing stowaway access and properly handling stowaways once they have been discovered has been challenging, says the organization. Stowaways continue to be discovered on board Marshall Islands’ flagged vessels both at sea and upon arrival at port.

Stowaways have boarded vessels and avoided discovery in a number of ways, including:

•    climbing up over the side of a vessel, using mooring lines or poles and then hiding in an unlocked locker or void space, an empty drum, a lifeboat, or under containers stowed on deck;
•    entering soft top containers through the top so that the customs or security seals on the container doors remain intact before the container is loaded on the ship;
•    hiding in empty containers, hiding in rudder trunk spaces (especially when ship is in ballast condition), hiding in ventilation trunks (especially in ro-ro car carriers), hiding in the ceiling of the tally office, disguising themselves as stevedores and through acts of impropriety on the part of the port agent or port facility security officer.

According to the guidance, when calling at ports where there is a risk of stowaway embarkation, security arrangements should include:
•    all doors, hatches and means of access to holds or stores, which are not used during the ship’s stay in port should be locked;
•    shoreside access points to the ship should be kept to a minimum and be adequately secured;
•    waterside access areas seaward of the ship should be adequately secured;
•    adequate deck watch should be kept;
•    all persons coming aboard the vessel should be required to present a valid permit (no permit = no access);
•    if cargo operations require several stevedores, the Stevedore Supervisor should provide the Ship Security Officer (SSO) with a detailed count of the number of stevedores prior to cargo handling and final confirmation once they are all ashore.
•    all embarkations and disembarkations should be strictly tallied by SSO or designated crew member;
•    adequate means of communication should be maintained; and
•    adequate night lighting should be maintained both inside and along the hull.

The document is available here.