BOOK REVIEW | Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse On Board Ship: Guidelines for Owners and Masters on Preparation, Prevention, Protection and Response – Sixth Edition, 2021

The massive global trade in illicit drugs and the misery, crime and destruction that trail in its wake show no sign of abating. Almost every week in Baird Maritime we publish an article describing another huge haul of drugs by one navy or coast guard or another.

Those interceptions, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg. The volume of undiscovered drugs is estimated at a minimum of ten times that of those that are discovered. Many of those drugs are smuggled on commercial vessels of all shapes and sizes and on all seas and oceans.

Some of those drugs are secreted aboard and hidden in cargo by outsiders, but significant amounts are smuggled by crewmembers. Apart from the grave risks to themselves, even death in some jurisdictions, they constitute huge time and money risks to both the masters and owners of the ships that they sail on. If drugs are found aboard, owners risk the lengthy detention of their vessels while masters can find themselves imprisoned.

So, owners and masters must be constantly vigilant in preparing for 1) preventing the carriage of drugs or the bad or dangerous effects of drug use or smuggling on crew members, 2) protecting their own interests and those of other innocent crew members, and 3) responding appropriately when drug use or smuggling activities are discovered on board.

Obviously, with this being the sixth edition of this excellent book since 1988, drugs have been seen as a significant problem by the International Chamber of Shipping for a long time. Also obviously, as the curses of drug use and smuggling have become increasingly sophisticated, so too, of necessity, have the responses to them.

This sixth edition contains the latest advice for masters and owners on how to reduce, if not eliminate, the impact of the drug curse. It is a very carefully researched and written book that, unfortunately, is of vital importance.

Available from Witherby Publishing Group, Livingston, Scotland.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.