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Seven arrested after special forces board hijacked tanker off UK coast

26 October 2020

Members of the UK’s Special Boat Service (SBS) boarded a hijacked oil tanker off the UK’s southern coast on October 25 and detained seven stowaways who had turned violent earlier in the day. The boarding of the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda ended a 10-hour standoff between UK authorities and the stowaways, believed to be Nigerians seeking asylum in the UK.

Representative image: Fawley Refinery, Shutterstock
Representative image: Fawley Refinery, Shutterstock

All 22 members of the Nave Andromeda’s crew were found safe while the seven Nigerians were handed over to Hampshire Police before the vessel docked in Southampton.

Hampshire Police issued a statement saying that concern for the welfare of the Nave Andromeda’s crew was raised to the police at 10:04 local time on October 25 when the vessel was situated approximately six miles off the coast of Bembridge, Isle of Wight. A three-mile exclusion zone was established around the vessel.

The vessel had been travelling in the direction of Southampton, having sailed from Lagos in Nigeria. It was reported that a number of stowaways were found on board who then became aggressive made threats towards the crew. Hampshire Police added that it is investigating the incident and it has a number of enquiries to carry out to establish the full circumstances.

The SBS operation to board the ship was approved Home Secretary Priti Patel after a police request. Forces boarded the Nave Andromeda via rope from four Royal Navy helicopters after nightfall in an operation that lasted just nine minutes.

According to the BBC, the operation would not have been possible had the crew not followed a maritime drill called BMP5 - Best Management Practice 5th edition. The drill involves the crew of the ship retreating to a strong room called “the citadel” and locking themselves inside before calling for assistance. In similar incidents usually seen off the east coast of Africa, special forces would normally only board a vessel once all crew members were locked safely inside the citadel.

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