Stowaways Found On Ship’s Rudder On Way To Canary Islands

Eight Days Balanced On Ship's Rudder

MSC Marta. Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg/Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Two lucky stowaways were rescued by the Canary Island’s coastguard, as they balanced precariously on a ship’s rudder.

Two Nigerian men, aged 18 and 22, were found on Monday night, July 10 night clinging to the rudder of a ship as it arrived at the port of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria according to La Provincia.

The men had spent at least eight days after a voyage that began in Nigeria last week. The two young men were taken to Doctor Negrín hospital in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for observation, after which they were discharged on Tuesday, July 11, and returned to the ship.

The young men were perched on the rudder of the ship MSC Marta, which travels a freight route between West Africa and Europe with the port of Las Palmas as an intermediate stop.

Eight Days At Sea

The ship arrived in the capital of Gran Canaria after 10:00 pm on Monday after it left Lagos in Nigeria on July 2. The vessel called at the port of Lomé, Togo, on July 4. Reportedly, the young men boarded the ship at the Port of Tican, near Lagos. Since then, the ship has sailed without stopping, which means that the occupants have spent more than eight days perched on the rudder, just above the waterline.

The rescue took place when the ship already berthed at the Cristobal Colon dock, where the Opcsa container terminal is located. Maritime Rescue took over the operation where they were transferred onto land, which took place at around midnight. They were then handed over to the National Police.

Hospitalised Then Returned To Ship

The two young men were then transferred to a hospital in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. After spending the night under observation, they were discharged on Tuesday morning.

Neither of them has applied for asylum in Spain. Spanish law dictates that any stowaway who does not seek asylum must be returned by the operator of the ship to the port where the journey originated. According to National Police sources, both migrants have relatives in Italy, the next destination of the MSC Marta.

This is the second time in less than a month that an MSC container ship has arrived at the Port of Las Palmas with people on board. On June 17, two other young men, aged 18 and 22, were discovered on a ship after a crossing from Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, which lasted six days and some 3,800 kilometres.

In November 2022, three other young people arrived in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria perched on the rudder of the tanker Althini II after an 11-day crossing from Lagos, Nigeria. In this case, the young people were able to remain on the island because their request for asylum was granted.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.