3 stowaways traveled 11 days on a ship's rudder, then rescued by coast guards

They are now being treated for their health.
Ameya Paleja
The three stowaways on the rudder of the oil tanker
The three stowaways on the rudder of the oil tanker

Salvamento Maritimo/Twitter  

The Spanish Coast Guard rescued three stowaways who traveled on the rudder blade of an oil tanker that was at sea for 11 days from Nigeria to the Canary Islands. Now, two of the three people have been put back on the ship, to deport them, Reuters reported.

Salvamento Maritimo, the Spanish Coast Guard, had recently tweeted a picture of three stowaways spotted on the rudder blade of the oil tanker, Althini II, when it was anchored in the docks of Las Palmas.

Lagos to Las Palmas on a rudder

The three men allegedly boarded the rudder of the Althini II, a ship sailing under a Maltese flag, on November 17 when it left the Nigerian port of Lagos. As the 600-foot (183 m) ship sailed up the Western African coast, the three stowaways spent 11 days balancing themselves on the rudder, inches above the waterline.

On Monday, earlier this week, the fuel tanker reached the port of Las Palamas in Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands, located off Western Sahara but owned by the Spanish authorities. The stowaways were rescued by a coast guard vessel at around 7 pm local time and treated for moderation and hypothermia by emergency services and the Red Cross. The condition of one was serious, and he had to be shifted to a hospital.

Popular as a tourist destination, the islands have also become a gateway for African migrants as they try to reach Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 3,000 migrants have either died or have been lost at sea when attempting to cross from Africa into these islands, Reuters said in its report.

What happens next?

According to Spanish law, stowaways can seek asylum in the country. However, those who do not do so must be returned to the port of origin of the journey by the operator of the ship.

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A spokesperson for the local police told Reuters that it was the ship operator's responsibility to provide temporary accommodation to the stowaway, and two of the three men had been returned to the ship. The third migrant had not been released from the hospital.

Owned by Gardenia Shiptrade SA, Alithini-II is managed by Athens-based Astra Ship Management which did not respond to Reuters calls for comments and current details of the stowaways.

It is likely that these individuals chose to take up an arduous journey to leave something very serious back home. It is not clear whether the stowaways were informed of their right to seek asylum in the country before being put back on the ship.