Seven stowaways threatened the crew of the oil tanker earlier on today, as previously reported leading to the vessel being locked down with the crew fearing for their lives.
The master of the tanker Nave Andromeda dropped anchor off Ventnor, where it has remained all day since a Mayday call from the bridge was made to the UK Coastguard.
Following approval for the military’s assistance by that was approved by the Home Secretary Officers from Hampshire Police have worked with the Special Boat Service who stormed the 42,000-ton vessel under the cover of darkness. The raid took a total of nine minutes using Special Boat Service and Royal Navy divers.
A Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter was used in the operation alongside 2 Royal Navy Merlin helicopters. Hot refuelling took place at Lee-on-Solent.
Military helicopters have been flying to and from the vessel in the past 30 minutes as operators executed their mission. It comes after 2 Chinook helicopters landed at the SBS’ base in Dorset. 3 helicopters have now departed the area and are flying south.
No one is thought to have been injured in the incident, which has lasted just under 10 hours.
It’s thought the stowaways have been on board the Nave Andromeda for several days, possibly weeks, having boarded in Nigeria.
In the past few minutes the Ministry of Defence has said:
“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.
“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.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP has tonight 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.”