A long standoff near the Isle of Wight was quickly ended when British commandos stormed aboard an oil tanker where a group of Nigerian stowaways had attempted a violent hijacking, according to reports.
The Nave Andromeda had departed Nigeria on Oct. 6th and was bound for port at Southampton when the captain sent a Mayday call to U.K. authorities on Sunday.
Seven African migrants had been discovered hiding deep inside the ship, and after attempts to confine the men, they became violent, threatening to kill crew members and forcing them to drop anchor roughly five miles off the Isle of Wight, the Telegraph reports.
"I'm trying to keep them calm but please send help,” the captain pleaded during the distress call, saying he feared for his life and losing control of the vessel.
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
Some crew members reportedly barricaded themselves in the ship’s stronghold in a last-ditch measure typically reserved for piracy attempts.
#HIJACK attempt: Tanker involved is the NAVE ANDROMEDA, Liberian-flag IMO 9580405, 75,000 DWT, owned in Greece. UK #Navy SBS Special Boat Service team has been activated, a UK Coast Guard helo is in the area. Scene is very near the UK's biggest #naval base https://t.co/dxTZ4T4LFA pic.twitter.com/pbEdmYeJwO— Chris Cavas (@CavasShips) October 25, 2020
After a standoff lasting 10 hours, over a dozen Special Boat Service troops raided the vessel, bringing the situation under control in just nine minutes after a show of “overwhelming force.”
Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained.— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 25, 2020
Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well. (2/2)
"In response to a police request, the Defence Secretary and Home Secretary authorised Armed Forces personnel to board a ship in the English Channel to safeguard life and secure a ship that was subject to suspected hijacking,” the Ministry of Defence explained in a statement.
"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 Nave Andromeda was able to finish its journey, arriving to port in Southampton on Monday.
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