Keeping Safe Ashore

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After many days or even weeks at sea, seafarers will look forward to the possibility of shore leave.

However, there are potential dangers lurking outside the port gates that seafarers should be aware of. To help seafarers keep safe ashore, here are some helpful hints:

  • Never go ashore alone – always go in a group.
  • Be vigilant and expect the unexpected.
  • Do your research: know where you are going, read up on any problems or issues. It is also handy to consult a map before arriving. The UK Foreign Office is a useful resource for each country.
  • Transport: download the ITF Seafarers’ Trust Shore Leave app to find reliable transport options.
  • If using public transport, check the route as it could expose you to different kinds of threats.
  • If using a taxi, never use an unsolicited car service.
  • Never accept transportation from a person who first approaches you at the airport or port – a known ploy is to grab your bags and say they have a car waiting.
  • Dress appropriately: do your research –many countries and cultures expect you to dress modestly
  • Avoid drawing attention to yourself – be confident and try to blend in.
  • Wearing clothes with company logos emblazoned can scream identity and make you a target.
  • Stick to populated areas: Do not venture through side streets, even if it seems like a convenient shortcut. Criminals like to strike in uncrowded areas. Stick to busier areas if possible.
  • Watches and phones: Leave the fancy trinkets at home. The streets are no place for your Rolex…you are not impressing anyone other than the thieves. This also goes for phones – they are desirable, and so you will be targeted.
  • Wallet: Don’t carry any more credit cards than you need. Leave things you don’t want to carry in the hotel safe, or in a locked drawer in your cabin. The more you carry, the more you stand to lose.
  • Keep your items in your front pocket, preferably zipped. Consider carrying two wallets as splitting your cash might mean only losing half.
  • Paperwork: Look after your passport, airline tickets and other valuables. Keep them in a safe place and have photocopies if possible. You should take photos and have them stored in an email address which you can access from anywhere. You should also keep a list of key contacts easily accessible.
  • Store useful numbers: keep phone numbers such as the local agent, police and the nearest embassy or consulate.
  • Be careful when taking photographs, videos or using binoculars. These activities may be misunderstood by local authorities, especially near military installations.
  • Import regulations: check food and plants before you attempt to bring them back to your home country.
  • Steer clear of any large demonstrations and crowds (especially political or football gatherings): Innocent crew may get caught up in a sudden flare-up of violence or the reaction from local security services.
  • Under no circumstances buy any contraband even if it is just cigarettes or alcohol. Apart from customs and criminal issues, these may be counterfeit and poisonous.
  • Check with agents about any purchases made ashore as there may be unknown customs issues. What may be legal in one country may be illegal in another. A typical example is a drone; widely available now in many shops and duty-free stores globally but banned in many countries. Also, satellite phones are now illegal in India.

By

Kostas Katsoulieris
Senior Executive (Claims)

Captain Aniruddha Desai
Loss Prevention Executive