Military forces have taken action to bring the Nave Andromeda situation to an end under the cover of darkness.
7 stowaways threatened the crew of the oil tanker earlier on today, as previously reported by Island Echo, leading to the vessel being locked down with the crew fearing for their lives.
Island Echo was the first to publish photos of the tanker at anchor off Ventnor, where it has remained all day since the alarm was raised at around 10:00.
Now, following a request for the military’s assistance by Police, the Special Boat Service have executed a raid on the vessel.
It’s understood all 7 stowaways have been detained and the vessel is now safe once again.
All 22 crew on board are safe, albeit shaken, and have full control.
It’s thought that the tanker will head into the Port of Southampton under escort in due course.
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.”
UPDATE @ 21:40 – It’s understood that the mission took just 7 to 9 minutes to complete and involved both the 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.
It is unknown where the 7 detained individuals have been taken and what charges they face.