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Storeaways (1991) Back to stories index

This story is not my own. One of my friends heard from a sailor who experienced the tragic event somewhere on Indian Ocean just south of eastern Africa. The time was believed between 1980 and 1985.

The South East Asia based ship was entering Atlantic Ocean. The destination was the USA. Two days after it left an African port three stowaways were arrested onboard. They were caught early morning while trying to snatch food in the galley. They had been hiding in one of engine stores with nothing to eat and drink. Extreme hunger urged them steal some food in the ship's galley.

Stowaways swept into the propeller The captain ordered the ship crew to construct a raft using three empty oil barrels. Sailors tied the barrels together with ropes and old wood planks. The ship was then around 300 to 400 nautical miles from the nearest land of Africa. Stowaways were given water and some dried food, and planks of woods to be used as oars. They were put on the raft and lowered down to the water by a deck crane at mid ship.

The captains of the company were ordered to strictly follow the scheduled arrival and departure plan. Any delay in cargo delivery meant loss of a lot of money. Calls for help from other ships were ignored if possible. Any other problems such as stowaways were unacceptable.

In that stowaway case the ship's engine was slowed down for several seconds while lowering the little raft. Change to the slow speed was not logged. Unable to move to a safe distance from the ship's hull, the three-man raft was sucked into the upstream of the propeller. Within seconds the little raft and the men were disappeared into the foams of rotating propeller blades.

(Note: the same story was published in www.trekthailand.net in Dec 2003)


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