Doug H
27th November 2005, 06:49
Maybe some of our Members will remember being on such ships as Elders & Fyffe's so-called "Banana Boats" trading between the UK and the West Indies in the '50s. I recall that we frequently discovered stowaways in the refrigerated hold, claiming that they had "fallen asleep during the hard task of loading boss" but always had their British passport in their back pocket!!!

On arrival in the UK, they appeared in court charged with stowing away on a British ship and I think the usual result was 28 days in jail, after which they were released, and were given a suit, forty pounds and their train fare to any part of the country to which they wished to go. As they were British citizens, they were not able to be deported and were able to register for the dole until they got a job - often with British Rail.

I make no comment about the appropriateness of those developments, except to say that the children and grandchildren of those stowaways have often become solid citizens of the UK.

In contrast, it would seem that stowaways in 2005 have a much more perilous journey in their attempts to stowaway to Australia!
For further details, check the following news story in our latest Weekend Australian.
on :,5942,17365253,00.html

I'd be interested in any comments - either about todays's events or those of fifty years ago. Kind regards, Doug H

Jan Hendrik
27th November 2005, 08:24
Quite a story.
So the survivors have been able to pass on their whereabouts and good fortune to their relatives.
Can you imagine how the relatives of the two other unidentified persons would try and find their loved ones in Marocco and cannot find a trace, not knowing they have deceased.
How would they ever find out.....

Frank P
27th November 2005, 12:01
In 1975 we had a stowaway onboard the Royal Viking Star, we had just left NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga in the South Pacific and the next stop was Auckland. One of the bar staff was cleaning the area around the swimming pool and he noticed a South Seas Islander relaxing on a reclining chair, the barman contacted the hotel reception, by the time someone from the reception had contacted an officer we were already a few hours out of Tonga. When the officer asked the Tongan what he was doing on the ship, he said that he wanted to go to New Zealand and that as our ship was going there that was good enough for him, he said that he would not cause any problems and we did not need to feed him as he had brought his own food, he had with him ONE bag of fruit, he did not realise that it would take about 5 days? It was decided that we would lose too much time retuning to Tonga so we took him with us to Auckland, he got a spare bunk in a crew cabin and he was put to work helping the crew accommodation cleaners. When we contacted the New Zealand immigration authorities by radio, they said that he was not a problem, but they said, on the approach to Auckland we had to lock him up in a secure cabin so that he could not get off the ship (jump overboard) until they had collected him. It was decided to put him in the isolation cell (no porthole or window) the cell was on the bridge deck just behind the bridge.


27th November 2005, 12:34
Last year we were stationed down in Nigeria and I had to fly around several West African Countries to Audit Oil vessels. On my return from Pointe Noire on a Sunday, shortly after we took off there was a right commotion going on between the planes crew and several passengers.To cut along story short we diverted to a different airport where 17 locals were taken off the plane. Apparently they had just walked down the runway perimiter in their Sunday best including luggage and boarded the plane and not discovered until in the air. So much for security these days.

Chris Field
27th November 2005, 14:03
I can virtually repeat Frank P's story above- in our case it was in the "Forum Papua New Guinea", from Suva to Brisbane. We "employed " them on deck for the three-day trip, then locked them in a cabin for the trip up the Brisbane River, following which the cops escorted them somewhere- probably not with the same generosity that the Brits displayed in the 50's.
My father was a warder at Brixton Gaol during the 50's and told me that the WI stowaways referred to in an earlier letter (frequently in his care) were renowned for demanding their rights to see the Minister of Insurance as they had been advised by their "representatives" in Kingston...

22nd January 2006, 22:28
when homeward bound through the suez on a esso tanker we discovered a stowaway who turned out to be a colonel or captain in the Egyptian army who'd done something or other wrong and was on the run from Nassers crew ,He was put to work on deck and used to sit beside me in the messroom, whatever we had for eating he would turn to me and ask if there was any pork involved things went O/K until one day I we had pea soup, I got that one wrong, and spent the rest of the trip expecting a crisly end ,he was a giant of a man but luckily he never twigged

22nd January 2006, 23:19
On my last "half" trip to sea, on the Narica, a Shell tanker, in 1954, we found a young 15 year old boy from Manila, Phillipines, onboard, on our way to Nigata, Japan. The Japanese authorities took him ashore, for R&R, whilst we were in port. The next morning we saw his photo in the local newspaper, shown to us by the agent. Reading the story was a bit difficult!! Just before we sailed, Mario, as we called him, was placed back onboard. We had to drop him off at Manila, on our way to Borneo.
He left our care with a lot more gear than he came aboard with, and a battered old suitcace to put it all in.

27th April 2006, 09:56
Hi Doug, yes I remember the stowaways, I was on the Sulaco in the sixties I never knew what happened to them when we got back you've enlightened me now! to the UK I rembered that when they exposed themselves they were dressed in rags but when we tied up they turned up in a clean shirt, suit and tie and shiney new shoes, they must have had them hidden in the Hold. Mickyp

Ian Highfield
27th April 2006, 17:07
Whilst working on the Fyffes line M boats several times we had stowaways down in the refrigerated cargo holds .
Almost always they would be from a small port in the Darrien called Turbo ( Colombia).
Easy for them to hide as we were loading manually from barges .
They would make a small niche for themselves whist loading cargo , store some water and food .
Usually the "Fridge" would discover them a day or so out and bring them topside .
Must have been cold , miserable and damp down there .
They were usually put to work on deck or general duties and then turned over to the local authorities when reaching portand in turn they would be repatriated .

27th April 2006, 18:43
3 Feb. 2005 report from our valued contributor is that arrival of Russian flag M/V Guiné at Port of Rio De Janeiro -- was marked by the amazing discovery of young 2 stowaways who braved the Atlanic for over 9 days standing on the rudder in hope of reaching a new life in Argentina. Thank God the vessel was in ballast -- or this perch would have been just for fish! How did they do this?

"The youngsters are safe & sound in medical treatment already in hotel and the procedures of the Federal Policy providing the expatriation. P & I are dealing with all subject," says our source. There is a picture on the site where I saw this information showing them standing on the rudder,it is a genuine shipping law site so it is not a send up

28th April 2006, 17:26
In OTRANTO in 1954 we had been clear of Fremantle by about 1.1/2 hours when the Chief Steward came to tell me that a bedroom steward had found what he believed to be a stowaway in what should have been an empty cabin in his section. The bedroom steward was right. My interview with the suspect was quite amusing because the man was more than a bit drunk and obviously had not intended to stowaway. I reported our 'find' to the Captain who confirmed that it was too late to turn back and that the chap would have to come to Colombo with us. We reported his presence to the Orient Line and Immigration at Fremantle. We suggested to the man that he used some of the little money he had with him to send a telegram to his wife and ask her to pay his fare to The Orient Line at Perth, saying that otherwise he would be treated as a stowaway. He sent the message.

A couple of hours later we got a reply addsressed to the Captain: "Treat my husband as a stowaway - serves him right" !!

The full story is in Sea Breezes August 1994 and my book "ORMONDE to ORIANA"

Nelson French (froggie)

28th April 2006, 18:56
We also had a South Seas Islander, a Fijian on Canberra. When found, he was put in my Lock Up Cabin in my Crew & Isolation Hospital. He was a huge chap with thick curly hair. I got to know him quite well. His English was poor, but having lived in New Zealand, I could speak a bit of Maori some which he understood, so I could talk to him albeit it only a few words. I was not supposed to go into him alone, but I was not frightened of him despite his size because I could more than take care of myself, so often went in alone with food water and medicine. When we entered Sydney harbour he rang his bell. Like a fool, I went in and as I opened the door, he slammed it against me pushing me backwards and tripping backwards over the step. He jumped over me running out onto my hospital deck. I by now had got up and running after him and almost caught him but he leaped over the side diving into Sydney harbour. We were just berthing at Circular Quay. A police launch was onto him like a shot, and picked him up. They brought him back aboard dripping in water until the Australian authorities dealt with him and took him off our hands leaving me with a wet lock Up Cabin. Served me right?!.

We also had a stowaway on Iberia when going home from NZ as a passenger, also a Fijian. We transferred him to Orsova in mid Pacific. She took him back to Suva as it was her next port. David

28th April 2006, 18:56
On the old QE the ship received a message from the american authorities " you have a stowaway on board". A search was made and sure enough we found him. Cannot tell you anymore as I will not know the answers.Ships admin kept answers to themselves.

John Rogers
28th April 2006, 19:48
While in Auckland NZ a couple of the deck hands were visited by two guys,they came on-board and chatted for awhile and we were told that they were a couple of MN lads who had jumped ship.
When we got to the Tonga Island the same two lads were seen on the pier, would you believe it the same two showed up in Suva,the mate then made a search of the ship and found that they had been hitching a ride in the lifeboat,left all kind of evidence,food wrappers and the ****e bucket they used,needless to say after that he turned the ship inside out.

28th April 2006, 20:28
We had a stowaway on the Queen Mary, The poor fellow was only wanting to get home,So the powers that be put him in the aft isolation hospital, We;; they put all kinds of bars on that hospital door, But what they failed in was the hospial had a hatch between the attendants cabin and the ward, He had a great time in the pig curtesy of that hatch, Lets face it the guy only wanted to get home for what reason was his affair

1st May 2006, 22:59
Outward bound to Australia on the 'Port Adelaide' in 1968, I began to suspect that there was an uninvited guest aboard. I was on the 12-4 watch and almost every night when I came down off the wheel and was walking down the alleyway outside the seamen's mess, I would see this shadowy figure through a porthole. Yet, by the time I got to the mess, there would be nobody there. The figure always seemed to be standing in the area where the salad trays were left and great inroads were made into the food on display. You had to be pretty desperate to eat the salad and this served to reinforce my conviction.

I told the second mate of my suspicion and although he was a bit sceptical at first, he agreed that it was a possibility. I knew everyone aboard pretty well and the mate decided that the best chance for me to see everyone together was at boat drill. So the next Friday, everyone except essential personnel were mustered on the boat deck and the second mate and I checked them all. They were all genuine crew and none of them looked like the person I'd seen fleeting glimpses of in the mess.

That very night, when I came off the bridge, there was my bold lad stuffing salami and lettuce into his mouth. He took off like a rocket when he saw me through the porthole and I didn't see which way he went. I had an hour before I was due back on the wheel so I went back on the bridge and told the second mate and asked permission to search the ship. He wasn't too happy as there was nobody to help me but he eventually agreed. I got out my trusty (and heavy) rubberised torch, started at the forepeak lockers and worked my way aft, checking every space big enough to hide a cormorant on my way.

Finally, with about ten minutes left, I descended the ladder to the steering flat, which was fully lit. As I did so, I saw a fleeting shadow on the bulkhead aft of the steering motor. I raised my torch to a striking position and crept round the steering gear from the opposite side, ready to defend myself from whatever fiend was in residence. As I came round the back of the motor, there he was, crouched and peering round the corner at the ladder I had just decended. I thought at first the he was poised to attack - until I noticed that his trousers and skivvies were round his ankles. I never discovered if I had just happened upon him at an inopportune time (for him) or if it was my stalking that had induced a certain loosening of his bowels.

I marched him up to the bridge at the muzzle of my torch and great consternation ensued as the 'old man' had to be called and a conference held to decide what to do with him. I came off watch to find that they had put him in a spare cabin next to mine. I was sleeping with one eye open after that; certain that my throat would be cut in my sleep. As it happened, he didn't want to kill me; it was Viet Cong he was after. His intention was to (somehow) fight with American or ANZAC forces in Vietnam. He spent most of his time practising unarmed combat on the poop.

We docked in Capetown for water and bunkers and I was on the forward spring tying up when I saw the man himself standing just inside the shoreside alleyway. I was wondering why he hadn't been locked up to prevent him jumping ashore, when he did just that. As soon as the ship struck the wharf he was off like a rocket, leaving the dock police wailing and waving their arms in his wake. Of course all hell was let loose. The ship was swarming with cops and immigration people and the skipper was as popular at head office as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip. Our sailing from Capetown was somewhat delayed, but he wasn't caught before we left. I don't know what happened to him, but I hope he wasn't unlucky enough to reach South Vietnam.

Richard Green
4th May 2006, 20:49
Now all this is evidence of the spirit in which stowaways are or were treated in the merch. See my thread about the story in today's Daily Telegraph - Man Overboard!