7 stowaways who threatened the lives of 22 crew members on board the Nave Andromeda, a Liberian-flagged oil tanker, are being questioned by authorities this morning (Monday) following yesterday’s rescue mission off the coast of the Isle of Wight.
The UK’s elite Special Boat Service was drafted in after the Home Secretary Pritti Patel gave the green light for military intervention, with around 16 commandos boarding the Nave Andromeda near Ventnor under the cover of darkness.
The incident began at around 10:00 yesterday morning when the stowaways became violent to the tanker’s crew by making verbal threats. The Captain quickly raised a security alert and locked down the vessel amid fears of a hijacking. Some terrifying 10 hours later and all 22 crew were rescued by the Armed Forces in a mission that one would expect in the Gulf region, not UK waters.
4 military helicopters, 2 Coastguard helicopters, 2 Police helicopters, HMS Richmond, 2 All Weather Lifeboats and several other watercraft were all involved in the mission, which concluded without injury at just before 19:30.
Despite conflicting reports, the oil tanker was not carrying any cargo – as first suggested by Island Echo in our early reports.
The Nave Andromeda is now safely alongside at the Queen Elizabeth II terminal in Southampton.
So how did the incident develop?
10:04 – Authorities alerted to the developing situation on board the ship
10:32 – Island Echo made aware of the incident and mobilises a reporter
10:45 – Vessel goes to anchor and Captain requests immediate assistance
11:00 – Nave Andromeda locked down and put to anchor
11:17 – Island Echo captures the first photographs of the tanker from Cowleaze
11:35 – Coastguard Rescue 175 airborne and heads towards the vessel
11:40 – Exclusion zone put in place around the ship
12:30 – Tug Lomax heads out of Southampton towards to the East of the Isle of Wight
12:44 – Island Echo approaches the Ministry of Defence for a statement
12:54 – Island Echo approaches HM Coastguard for a statement
13:00 – Stowaways continue violence and try to gain access to secured areas
13:49 – Island Echo publishes a story and photographs
14:10 – Police position an officer on lookout duties and Island Echo requests a statement from Hampshire Constabulary
14:18 – Police issue a brief statement confirming an ongoing incident
14:32 – Coastguard Rescue helicopter from Lydd arrives on scene
14:37 – HM Coastguard issue a statement confirming 2 Rescue helicopters from Solent and Lydd involved
14:40 – National Police Air Service Helicopter from Bournemouth arrives off the coast
16:05 – Metropolitan Police helicopter arrives overhead – NPAS Bournemouth returns for refuelling
16:51 – Bembridge RNLI and Selsey RNLI lifeboats launched
17:03 – NPAS Bournemouth returns to the scene
17:07 – RAF Chinook helicopters land at the Special Boat Service’s HQ in Dorset
17:20 – Met Police helicopter flies to Lee-on-Solent for refuelling
17:41 – Police leave visual lookout point as darkness falls
18:08 – Met Police helicopter returns overhead to take over from NPAS Bournemouth
18:31 – Nave Andromeda’s lights are switched off
19:10 – 2 Royal Navy Merlin helicopters and 2 Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters move in on the target
19:30 – 7 people detained and 22 crew found safe and well – the mission took just 7-9 minutes
21:20 – Bembridge Lifeboat stood down from the operation and returns to the offshore boathouse
22:40 – Pilot arrives on the Nave Andromeda and it begins its journey to port
02:00 – Nave Andromeda arrives alongside at the Queen Elizabeth II terminal in Southampton
Home Secretary Priti Patel last night tweeted:
“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.”
Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, added:
“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.”