The crew onboard an oil tanker which was involved in a suspected hijacking off the Isle of Wight are now safe, after a swift response from the SBS
Seven people were detained following about 16 Special Boat Service (SBS) commandos boarding the Nave Andromeda on Sunday night in order to regain control of the vessel. They were later arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by threats or use of force.
“I can confirm the crew are safe and the operation to secure the vessel concluded successfully,” Matt Hancock told Sky News, adding that authorities did an “exemplary job”.
He added: “I would like to pay tribute to the police and armed forces who did such an exemplary job… this is what they train for and this is what they’re there for, to protect our country and they did that to such a high standard.”
This comes after Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has vowed that the government will “go further” as he has announced three new measures that are supposed to help workers and businesses to get through the winter months, as well as the ongoing second spike of COVID-19.
The operator of the tanker also thanked the SBS for their timely response.
The SBS, or Special Boat Service, is the elite maritime counter-terrorism unit that is part of the Royal Navy, with most of its personnel being Royal Marine Commandos that: “specialise in daring undercover raids that exploit the element of surprise” according to the MoD.
“The UK authorities had been advised by the Master that stowaways had been found on board and that he was concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behaviour of the stowaways,” Navios Tanker Management said.
“Happily no crew members were injured and all are safe and well.
“Navios Tanker Management wish to thank all the UK authorities involved in this operation for their timely and professional response.”
Hampshire Police had received reports that a “number of stowaways” were on board the vessel and had made “verbal threats towards the crew” shortly after 10am on Sunday as the ship was heading towards Southampton, having departed from Lagos, the capital city of Nigeria.
The raid on the tanker vessel was authorised by Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, as well as Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, in response to the “suspected hijacking” and following the tense 10-hour stand-off, the Ministry of Defence said.
The SBS, alongside two Royal Navy Merlin helicopters, were involved in the mission, as well as two Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters.
The Ministry of Defence 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.”
This comes after two people have been killed in an explosion at a shop in west London, the fire brigade has confirmed. The explosion happened in a shop underneath flats in the Southall area.
On Sunday Ms Patel said: “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.”
Before the action from the armed forces, Hampshire Police said that the boat had been located around six miles off the coast of Bembridge in the Isle of Wight, adding that: “It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made verbal threats towards the crew. No one has been reported injured.”