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Q: Murdered Stowaways ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Murdered Stowaways
Category: Reference, Education and News > Current Events
Asked by: lolagamester-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 10 Jul 2002 07:25 PDT
Expires: 09 Aug 2002 07:25 PDT
Question ID: 38133
I would like to find out details of specific examples of cases where
stowaways have beenn murdered by the ships crew, as in the case of the
MC Ruby in 1992.  I need to know where it happened (detination and
departure cities), the name of the ship and what penaties the ship
owner might have faced if he had arrived in port with stowaways on
Subject: Re: Murdered Stowaways
Answered By: tehuti-ga on 10 Jul 2002 10:50 PDT

I do have some answers to your query, with respect to incidents and
also to the fines that can be faced by ship owners if they bring
stowaways into a port.  However, the reports do not name the ships,
although three of them indicate which countries the ships and the
stowaways came from and where the incidents happened.

An article on the site of the UK P and I Club at gives some idea of the fines
that may be imposed when a ship is found to have stowaways.
Three stowaways who escaped from a ship in Australia were caught in
Sydney and later deported.  Enquiries found that a crewmember had
helped them to board in China.  Infringement notices were served on
the ship's master, the shipowner and the ship's local agent, each for
a fine of A$2,000 per stowaway. The ship's agent suceeded in appealing
against the fine, but the others had to pay a total of A$12,000. The
shipowner also had to pay 5 months of detention costs until the
stowaways were deported, which came to A$60,000 as well as another
A$6,000 to cover the cost of repatriation. “The total costs incurred
by the shipowner as a result of the three stowaways were therefore in
excess of A$78,000 (US$50,000).”  The article ends by saying that the
imposition of fines and costs on shipowners who have stowaways on
their ships is becoming commonplace in many countries.

Other individual cases of violence against stowaways:
1.  “Captain may have sent stowaway to death”  Article in The
Namibian, November 2, 2000 at

Stowaways discopvered on a Chinese ship off the coast of Namibia were
forced overboard with a raft at 2 am.  According to a statement by
three survivors: “Their friend, whom they named as Johnson, had to
jump first but refused as he was scared and could not swim. They
alleged that the captain hit him hard on the neck with a "very big
stick" and then pushed him overboard.  He was probably unconscious and
drowned in the sea. The three said it looked as if his neck might have
been broken before he was pushed overboard.”

2.  An article in Sunday Times of South Africa, November 14, 1999 at

“Stowaways also risked being thrown overboard by crew; shipowners have
to pay thousands of rands for each stowaway handed over to port
authorities and are liable for stiff penalties if they try to sneak
them ashore.”

Two castaways from Zaire were rescued by fishermen near Kommetjie,
South Africa, in 1997.  They said that crew on a Turkish ship had
killed their friend by throwing him overboard and then forced them
into a rowing boat.

3.  “a stowaway on board a German freight ship was thrown overboard by
crew members whilst the ship was in the open sea.”  This is from the
Berlin Antiracist Information Network - May/June 1995, no further
details given -

Search strategy: stowaway, killed, ship

Clarification of Answer by tehuti-ga on 10 Jul 2002 11:02 PDT
I have found some further information in an essay at

The essay claims thatin cases where there is a long drawn out
procedure, because the stowaway claims asylum, the total cost to the
shipowner, in fines etc., could reach $400,000 per person.  It cites
the case of four Romanian stowaways who were found on board the M/V
European Senator, owned by Dia Navigation Company.  They applied for
asylum.  At the end of the proceedings, the company received a a bill
for $127,580, to cover the cost of 54 days of detention.  The company
went on to file suit against the INS, but did not succeed to obtain
compensation.  The essay says Canada imposes fines of $7,000 per
stowaway.  It mentions another case of a ship called Maersk Dubai,
chartered to Yang Ming, and sailing top Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The
Taiwanese crew allegedly threw overboard   three Romanian stowaways
and were accused of murder.  Apparently they did this to avoid the
Canadian fines.

Clarification of Answer by tehuti-ga on 10 Jul 2002 11:07 PDT
An account of events on the Maersk Dubai can be found at  This is the web site of
Savatage, a band that made a rock opera out of the story.
Subject: Re: Murdered Stowaways
From: bethc-ga on 10 Jul 2002 13:14 PDT
Just an idle comment that I couldn't resist, relating to tehuti's
mention of the band "Savatage" in her clarification: Savatage is also
the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, known for their Christmas albums.


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