The control of the Liberia-registered oil tanker was taken over by the UK’s special forces, on Sunday in the English Channel after stowaways were discovered aboard, the situation had turned violent. The ship was around six miles off the Isle of Wight on England’s south coast, when according to initial reports, it had been hijacked and the crew was forced to take shelter from seven stowaways who threatened them.
The Defense Ministry said that after boarding the vessel, the British armed forces arrested seven people. Special Boat Service (SBS) troops, a navy special forces unit whose headquarters are situated a few kilometers near the vessel received the distress call on Sunday morning and boarded the Nave Andromeda near the Isle of Wight off southern England.
The ministry tweeted “Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained. Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well.”
The British Ministry of Defence said that the Home Secretary Priti Patel and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace sanctioned the action in response to the police request. “Police investigations will now continue, and initial reports confirmed the tanker’s crew was safe and well,” the ministry said.
Mr 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.”
The involvement of the SBS was declined to confirm or deny by the defense ministry in regards to UK government policy of not commenting on special forces missions. An anonymous source with knowledge of the matter said the SBS were involved. SBS missions are almost always classified.
Greek-managed vessel ‘The Nave Andromeda’ departed from Lagos, Nigeria on October 6, and its expected arrival in Southampton, England, was at 10:30am on Sunday, but since about 10 am the tanker had been circling an area southeast of Sandown on the Isle of Wight.
It was not immediately clear what the stowaway’s intentions were or where they were from. They “had made verbal threats towards the crew” but “no-one has been reported injured”, police in the southern county of Hampshire said earlier.
A lawmaker representing the Isle of Wight, Bob Seely, informed that he relied on the marine counter-terrorism forces to handle the incident. Seely told Sky News “I suspect, because of the nature of this, it will be treated as marine counter-terrorism. The number of people in the UK who do that are very limited, and the relevant units will be looking at options, no doubt, as to what we could be doing.”
“I think the most important thing to take away from this is that we have a world that’s on the move, and the sea is the physical equivalent to the World Wide Web,” he added. “And people will find out how to get between countries by sea, by any other route that gets them from one place to another, where they can obviously advance themselves economically, improve their lives and get away from whatever horrors or disadvantages that they were born into.”
Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained.
Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well. (2/2)
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 25, 2020
According to records, the 228-meter (750 foot) tanker that was carrying 42,000 tonnes of crude oil, had traveled in a zig-zag pattern for several hours off the coast of the island. Due to this the Lawyers Tatham and Co. told the BBC that they suspected the incident was “100% not a hijacking.”
A retired Royal Navy rear admiral, Chris Parry, who is now a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said such stowaway incidents were not infrequent and likely to increase as migrants look for new ways to enter Britain.
“Today we are thankful for the quick and decisive action of our police and armed forces who were able to bring this situation under control,” tweeted Home Secretary Priti Patel.
BREAKING: NPAS helicopter gone to refuel but multiple helicopters including Coastguard remain. IW Radio understand that the Special Boat Service have been briefed and standing by #naveandromeda #iwnews #skynews pic.twitter.com/ccdFP9kXzE
— Isle of Wight Radio (@iwightradio) October 25, 2020