The Panama Maritime Authority issued a Circular to alert Shipowners, operators, masters, companies of Panamanian flagged vessels to implement the security measures needed to prevent stowaways from entering, either at sea or on arrival. When a stowaway is discovered, it reflects that the vessel failed to implement its Ship Security Plan.
Specifically, the Authority highlights that all Panamanian flagged vessels are obliged to inform them in the possibility that a stowaway has entered the vessel, in order to authorize an additional verification of the SSP.
All Panamanian flagged vessels, when calling ports or during staying at ports, should follow the steps below:
- All doors, hatches and means of access to holds or stores should be locked;
- Access points to the ship should be kept to a minimum and be adequately secured;
- Areas seaward of the ship should be secured;
- Adequate deck watch should be kept;
- Boardings and disembarkations should be tallied by the ship’s crew or, after agreement, by others;
- Adequate means of communication should be maintained;
- At night, additional lighting should be maintained both inside and along the hull.
In addition, the Authority recommends that when a stowaway is found onboard a ship, the Master and the Shipowner are responsible to:
- To determine immediately the port of embarkation of the stowaway;
- To establish the identity and nationality and residence of the stowaway;
- Prepare a statement containing all available information relevant to stowaway for presentation to the responsible authorities at the port of embarkation, the next port of call, flag State and any subsequent ports.
- To ensure stowaways are not forced to work onboard the vessel, except only in emergency situations or in relation to the stowaway’s accommodation onboard;
- To ensure stowaways are treated humanely;
- To comply with any removal directions made by the competent national authorities at the port of disembarkation;
- To cover any applicable costs related to the removal, detention treatment and disembarkation of the stowaway in accordance to the legislation on the States which may be involved
- Not to depart from the planned voyage to seek the disembarkation of a stowaway discovered onboard the ship after it has left the territorial waters of the state where the stowaways embarked unless permission to disembark the stowaway has been granted by the public authorities of the state to whose port the ship deviates or repatriation has been arranged elsewhere with sufficient documentation and permission given for disembarkation.
In the meantime, the Authority has issued along with the circular a ‘Form of Stowaway Details Report’ as an example
Concluding, for additional information on the Circular, you may click on the PDF herebelow