London (Brussels Morning) Seven stowaways have been arrested off the south coast of England after a 10-hour standoff on board an oil tanker on Sunday.
The seven individuals, who are thought to be from Nigeria, were found onboard the Nave Andromeda.
According to reports, there were concerns for the ship’s crew at around 10.04 am Sunday, and at around 10.45 am, tracker images showed erratic zig-zagging of the vessel while it was six miles off the coast of Bembridge, a village in the Isle of Wight.
After crew members found the stowaways, they reportedly tried to lock them in a cabin, but the situation turned aggressive, and an alarm was sounded with various crew members sheltering around the ship.
Some media reports cited it as a potential attempted hijacking; the route is known for smuggling migrants from Iran, Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia.
The 228-metre long ship was due to dock in Southampton on Sunday morning, carrying 42,000 tonnes of crude oil from Lagos, Nigeria, setting off on its journey on 6 October.
It is operated by a Greek shipping firm Folegrandos.
Sixteen Special Boat Service (SBS) commandos commandeered the Nave Andromeda last night.
“I can confirm the crew are safe and the operation to secure the vessel concluded successfully”, said Secretary of State Matt Hancock, speaking to Sky News.
“I would like to pay tribute to the police and armed forces who did such an exemplary job”, he continued.
In addition to the SBS, a counter-terrorism unit of the Royal Navy, four Royal Navy helicopters were involved.
Sky News said the operation was known as a “Flash to Bang” and that the ship had arrived this morning.
“Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained”, said a Ministry of Defence spokesperson.
“Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well”.