The last years have seen a steady decrease in the number of stowaway claims amongst our Assureds. This, however, hasn’t diminished the inconvenience suffered and the large expenses incurred in having to deal with stowaways once found on board the Vessel.
Since 1957 it has generally been accepted that a stowaway is “a person who, at any port or place in the vicinity thereof, hides himself in a ship without the consent of the shipowner or the Master or any other person in charge of the ship and who is on board after the ship has left that port or place.” This was the definition employed in the International Convention Relating to Stowaways (not in force).
A 2018 claim in South Africa has shown that the local practice is to deem any non-South African person who wrongly gains access to the Vessel as a stowaway, unless the Vessel is able to evidence that trespass took place at that port.
The South African Immigration Authorities have thus broadened the traditional definition of who is considered a stowaway resulting in an extended scope of responsibility of the Vessel when in South Africa.
Despite this our Assureds can rely on their P&I cover continuing to respond for the costs and expenses they are legally liable for under the applicable jurisdiction, including diversion expenses for their landing. Broad as this is, however, it does not cover all resulting consequential losses a Vessel may suffer.
Our correspondents in Durban, P&I Associates (PTY) Ltd., have recently put together a loss prevention advice on this topic which we are pleased to share with our shipowners and time charterers Assureds calling at South African ports. Kindly take note of these measures when planning your next visit.