SEVEN people were detained last night (Sunday) after armed forces personnel boarded an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight, following reports its crew had been threatened by stowaways.
Hampshire police had requested military assistance in dealing with the situation on board the 228-metre Nave Andromeda.
Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “I commend the hard work of the armed forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship.
“In dark skies, and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel. People are safe tonight thanks to their efforts.”
Concerns were raised with police over the welfare of the ship’s crew, shortly after 10am on Sunday.
Police said the vessel, located around six miles off the coast of Bembridge, had been travelling in the direction of Southampton.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “Tonight we are thankful for the quick and decisive action of our police and armed forces who were able to bring this situation under control, guaranteeing the safety of all those on board.”
Police were said to be working alongside the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and Border Force in responding to the incident.
John Thompson, co-founder of Ambrey, a maritime security firm advising the ship’s Greek owners on Sunday, told the Financial Times the incident was “definitely not a hijacking”.
“It’s stowaways who have got a bit rowdy with the crew,” he told the newspaper.
According to maritime tracking websites, the Nave Andromeda had sailed from Lagos, Nigeria, on October 5.
It is understood the tanker had been expected to dock in Southampton at 10.30am on Sunday and that the port received contact from the ship but it had not been refused entry to the harbour.
Two coastguard helicopters were scrambled to the scene and spotted circling the ship on Sunday afternoon.
Defence Secretary @BWallaceMP: “I commend the hard work of the Armed Forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship. In dark skies, and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel. People are safe tonight thanks to their efforts.”
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 25, 2020
Statement issued by Hampshire Police at 10.20pm on Sunday.
“At 10.04am today (October 25) concerns were raised to police for the welfare of crew on board the vessel, which was situated approximately six miles off the coast of Bembridge.
“The vessel had been travelling in the direction of Southampton, having sailed from Lagos in Nigeria.
“It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made threats towards the crew.
“Following a multi-agency response by police, with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police.
“All 22 crew members are safe and well.
“Police are investigating this incident and we have a number of enquiries to carry out to establish the full circumstances.”