Four men from Nigeria managed to hide inside a compartment atop the rudder of a Norwegian tanker earlier this month, and then survived 10 days at sea until they were discovered when the vessel took on fuel in Las Palmas. Now they’re in the hands of Norwegian police.
“The sea and the rudder were right under them during the entire voyage,” Karl Kvalheim of Champion Tankers in Bergen, which controls the Champion Pula, told state broadcaster NRK. “The room where they were hiding could have been filled with water. It was a crazy thing to do, they could have easily drowned.”
Spanish authorities initially took the four men ashore but the tanker wasn’t allowed to sail onwards until a decision was made over the stowaways’ fate. After two days of discussions, Champion Tankers received assistance from Norway’s foreign ministry and the Norwegian Shipowners Association, and took the four Nigerians (who’d stowed away while the vessel was in port in Lagos) back on board so that the ship could be free to sail.
They received medical care, were given food and cabins, kept under watch and turned over to Norwegian police and immigration autorities when the ship arrived at Hærøya in Norway to load another cargo on October 17. “It’s sad to see how people can be so desperate to find a better life,” Kvalheim told NRK.
He didn’t know what’s happened with the men since and immigration police won’t comment on individual cases. It’s likely they’ll be deported, back to Nigeria.