British officials say a Liberian-registered oil tanker is docked safely in Southampton and its crew “safe and well” after British naval special forces stormed the ship following a report that stowaways threatened violence.
In a statement, ship operator Navios Tanker Management, says the Nave Andromeda left Lagos, Nigeria, on October 6 and had been due to dock in Southampton on Sunday when the ship’s master became “concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behavior of the stowaways.”
A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation indicates the crew had been aware of the stowaways – believed to have been from Nigeria – but said they became unruly and even violent as the ship neared Britain.
The ship was circling an area a few kilometers southeast of the Isle of Wight, south of Southampton, and when it failed to dock, local authorities were contacted. A statement on the British ministry of Defense’s Twitter account indicates police requested assistant from the military.
The coast guard was also called in and scrambled helicopters to reach the scene. A nearly five-kilometer exclusion zone was established around the vessel.
After several hours, commandos from the Royal Navy Special Boat Service were lowered from helicopters onto the ship, whose crew had locked themselves in a secure area. Within minutes, the commandos had detained seven people and secured the vessel.
Speaking to reporters Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked both the police and armed forces for what they did “to keep our shores safe.”