The SBS (Special Boat Service) has stormed a crude oil tanker near the Isle of Wight and detained seven people, following reports that stowaways had attempted a hijacking, according to the Independent.
The incident occurred on the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda, which was due to dock in Southampton earlier on Sunday.
Hampshire Police said it received warnings at around 10am that stowaways onboard a ship south of the island had made “verbal threats” to its crew.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed shortly after 8pm that armed forces had boarded the vessel and detained seven people.
“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 MoD says in a statement.
BBC News reports about 16 members of the SBS ended the tense ten-hour standoff in a nine-minute operation. Along with the SBS squad from Poole, in Dorset, a team of Royal Navy divers were also deployed in one of the Royal Navy helicopters in case the vessel had been mined – but it had not.
All 22 crew members, who were locked in the ship’s citadel, are safe.
The seven stowaways – believed to be Nigerians seeking asylum in the UK – were detained and handed over to Hampshire Police.
Home secretary, Priti Patel, tweeted: “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.”
The defence secretary Ben Wallace says: “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.”
According to maritime tracking websites, the Nave Andromeda reached port in Southampton early this morning.