He wore size 12 boots.

He liked milk and cookies.

And he hoped to survive a sea journey of more than 5,000 miles from Africa to Philadelphia, hidden inside a cargo-ship container filled with bags of cocoa beans.

He didn't make it.

The man's name remains unknown, but the discovery of his body, beside a backpack that contained small provisions, provoked a multiagency response Monday at Pier 84 in the 2400 block of Columbus Boulevard, just south of the moored and rusting SS United States.

A Hazmat team was called because the remains were badly decomposed, according to Philadelphia police. The Fire Department also responded, along with Customs agents, the city Health Department, and the Medical Examiner's Office.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Stephen Sapp said the dead man was a foreign national. Officials are trying to identify him so his family can be notified.

Sapp said border agents had accounted for all of the ship's crew, who had appropriate visas.

The British registered ship, the Sian C, had departed from Ivory Coast. It docked in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, according to Philadelphia Regional Port Authority officials.

The trip, at a speed of 10 knots, is estimated to take 19 days.

The body was discovered shortly after noon Monday as workers were off-loading giant bags of beans. Stowaway deaths are rare, according to Joseph Menta of the PRPA.

Dockworker Kareem Dye said he noticed a foul odor, then heard a fellow worker call, "It's a dead body!" Dye thought the man was joking until he walked over and looked.

He saw a pair of boots and a knapsack. Beside them was what he described as the bloated body of a large, dark-skinned male.

The containers are airtight, he said, and the man could have suffocated. Others speculated that he could have been crushed by shifting beans, held in large bags that are removed from the container by crane.

The port is a major entry point for cocoa. Shipments of cocoa and coffee from Ivory Coast made the nation a local economic power in the 1970s. Today, the country continues to struggle in the aftermath of a 2011 civil war.

Dye said it wasn't unusual to find something unpleasant when a ship is being unloaded - the companies spray to keep rats and bugs from invading the cargo.

"It just so happens," he said, "it was a human this time."

215-854-4906 @JeffGammage

Inquirer staff writer Linda Loyd contributed to this article.