According to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965, as amended, (The FAL Convention), a stowaway is defined as “A person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo which is subsequently loaded on the ship, without the consent of the shipowner or the Master or any other responsible person and who is detected on board the ship after it has departed from a port, or in the cargo while unloading it in the port of arrival, and is reported as a stowaway by the master to the appropriate authorities”.
The majority of stowaways are found on board bulk, container and general cargo vessels. Car carriers are also over-represented in stowaway data compared to other vessel types.
As shown in the image above, stowaway cases were increasing steadily prior to 2004. Following the introduction of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code in 2004 there has been a drop in the number of reported stowaway cases.
However, it seems that the numbers are now increasing.
Whilst the number of incidents nearly halved during the 11-year period from 2007 to 2017, the number of stowaways decreased by less than this because the number of stowaways per incident has increased by nearly 50%, from 2.3 per incident in the 2007 policy year to 3.3 per incident in 2017.
It is stated that the costs involved in taking care and repatriating stowaways can be substantial. The repatriation of stowaways is difficult and generally involves moving reluctant people across several continents.
In 2002, the cost to ship insurers of each stowaway case was approximately USD 7,000 averagely. However, by 2008 this figure had increased significantly, to just over USD 18,000 (excluding the applicable deductibles paid by the Member).