Stowaways have been a nuisance to the shipping industry that continues to plague companies and seafarers alike. Stowaways are people who secretly board a vessel or cargo container that is loaded onto a vessel without the consent of responsible authorities, and are detected while in transit(1). They incur many costs to companies including direct and indirect economic losses, time lost, and negative impacts on seafarers. Therefore, the industry has developed standard practices to prevent these unwanted boardings and to deal with stowaways once they are discovered (2).
The most recent set of comprehensive data on the issue published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) shows that in 2017 there were 432 stowaway incidents reported involving 1,420 individual stowaways(3). Furthermore, in an academic study of 365 European and non-European seafarers, 39% had encountered stowaways in their career(4). It is clear that this issue is ongoing and common. In the year 2017 Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania were the top three countries of origin for stowaways, but the most common ports for stowaway boardings were Durban, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria(5). This data implies that many stowaways are already immigrants in foreign countries when they board vessels. Additionally, US and Canada-bound vessels are most popular for stowaways(6).