Transportation of illegal and contraband items through ships is a legal offence. The master of the ship must take all the steps possible in order to prevent the smuggling of such items.
If a crew member is found guilty of smuggling, he or she would be subjected to legal charges under the law of that particular country, along with the permanent suspension of Certificate of Competency (COC) and employment.
Under ship security plan (SSP), the master of the ship must prevent unauthorized persons from boarding the ship while the latter is at the port. This is one of the main reasons for smuggling in the shipping industry.
Transportation and selling of contraband goods such as narcotics, weapons, stimulants, plants, animals, and other such products are prohibited by countries around the world. The following steps must be taken to prevent illegal transportation of such products:
- The master of the vessel must use ship-specific Search Checklists to carry out a thorough check of all the parts of the ship
- All restricted areas of the ship must be locked/ sealed when the ship is at a port
- Crew members must be allotted with specific duties to carry out the search properly
- If the ship is sailing to or from a U.S. port, additional checks must be made onboard without fail and the results must be entered in the ship’s logbook
- Awareness of the use and possession of drugs onboard ships is necessary among crew members. The master of the ship must post “Prevention of Drug Smuggling” signs in the mess room and other frequently visited places on the ship
- If necessary, the master might even ask to inspect crew personal belongings during the search
- In case such goods are discovered, the master would take the goods under his control and inform the company immediately
- Handling of such goods must be done with utmost care as inhalation or contact with the skin of such products can be dangerous
- The master can ask for additional checks in high-risk areas, or in case special information has been received by the vessel
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