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Issues Update

Issue Summary

In 2007-2008, concern was expressed over the difficulties in landing stowaways because of delays, additional costs and inconvenience to the crew (and stowaway).  Noting that the actual numbers of stowaways reported to IMO appeared to be under-estimated, INTERCARGO and our Round Table partners convinced IMO to establish a “Stowaway Focal Point” (SFP) who would try and help the landing of stowaways when existing P&I expertise had been exhausted.  The provision of a SFP proved to be a short-term measure and subject to “trial” arrangements but INTERCARGO is happy to assist any member by asking for IMO support in circumstances where the member’s P&I Club is unable to make progress.

An IMO meeting starting on 6 September 2011 (FAL 37) will agree Stowaway Guidelines – inter alia, which may or may not include a cut off point of 14 days during which the ship owner / P&I Club may have to reimburse the initial receiving state for processing the stowaway.  The key issue is whether the Industry (owners Associations and P&I interests) should push for a defined time limit [14 days], running the risk that receiving states will be under no pressure to resolve the problem before then, as someone else will pay, or should we merely urge states to keep costs to a minimum?


Although not a Bulk Carrier specific issue, INTERCARGO will continue to work with the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG) and their individual members to ensure that any specific stowaway incidents are resolved in a humanitarian way and as speedily as possible. INTERCARGO recognises the existing expertise of P&I Clubs in resolving stowaway problems.

“A speedier repatriation process; recognising the professional efforts of P&I Clubs and encouraging IMO to assist in the humanitarian resolution of practical seafaring problems”

Summary of Recent Developments

2009 – BIMCO created a Stowaways Clause for Time Charterparties.

9.10 : FAL (IMO Facilitation Committee) 36 : considered the IG paper FAL 36/6.  IMO noted under-reporting; that the average number of days a stowaway spent on board was 4.7 days with the longest at 174 days and that the total cost to IG Clubs net of deductibles was USD 14.3m.  The top five ports of embarkation were Lagos, Abidjan, Durban, Richards Bay and Tema.

6.9.11 : FAL 37 will review the IMO Guidelines “Allocation of responsibilities to seek the successful resolution of stowaway cases”.  The relevant IMO paper is FAL 37/6 – available to any member on request.

The Guidelines will incorporate subsequent SOLAS XI-2 and ISPS amendments and will be harmonised – as far as possible with the existing FAL Convention.  Note that some countries have not adopted the revised FAL Convention.

The draft Guidelines appear to be generally supportable as they are in line with international custom and practices.  Issues covered in the Guidelines include :-

- Definitions of:

a) a Stowaway (as per the revised FAL Convention) and

b) Attempted Stowaway (basically one found before the ship sails or leaves territorial waters);

- A general requirement for adequate searches of the ship prior to sailing and taking into consideration the possibility of stowaways before fumigation and sealing holds;

- Ports to work with owners, thus recognising that they have a responsibility in keeping attempted stowaways out of the port facility;

- Shipowners and Masters responsible for controlling access to the ship – broadly in line with ISPS requirements;

- Notes and a proforma report form dealing with questioning and the humane treatment of stowaways;

- Owners / P&I to cover to cover applicable costs relating to the removal, detention etc at the first port of landing. Should we invite IMO to consider the IMO’s Correspondence Group idea of putting a time limit on these costs ? If the stowaway is found in the embarkation port or in territorial waters, the state of the port of loading / embarkation is to consider no costs / charges / fines against the owners;

- State in the port of landing to consider mitigation of charges where the owner has cooperated and advised the state about the existence of stowaways;


Number of stowaways reported to IMO  (NB under-reporting)






252 (IG 842)




889 (IG 1,955)



Note : IG years counted from 20 Feb to 20 Feb each year