7 Nigerian stowaways accused of hijacking oil vessel face long jail term in Britain
London, Oct. 26, 2020 (AltAfrica)-British soldiers has detained seven Nigerian stowaways, arrested aboard an oil tanker, Nave Andromeda, off England’s south coast.
The seven stowaways have now been accused of hijacking Liberian oil tanker and could face long term in British prison if found guilty
The 228-metre tanker had been expected to dock in Southampton on Sunday to pick up a cargo of petrol, but its course in the Channel became erratic, prompting calls for an intervention as it passed the south-east edge of the Isle of Wight.
Military assistance had been requested after the stowaways on board the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda reportedly became violent.
UK special forces completed the operation in nine minutes, BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Beale said.
The crew, who were locked in the ship’s citadel by the people are now reportedly safe.
The Ministry of Defence called the incident a “suspected hijacking” and said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorised the operation in response to a police request
The special forces responded to a request for help from Hampshire police in the early evening on Sunday, gaining control of the Nave Andromeda vessel in nine minutes after it was feared that the crew was no longer fully in charge.
“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,” the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement.
“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 on board, and they had made threats towards the crew.
“Following a multi-agency response by police, with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police.”
The vessel left Lagos on 6 October. Lloyd’s List, the shipping newspaper, said it believed seven stowaways had boarded in Nigeria. Their presence had been discovered, but they became violent when the crew attempted to lock them in a cabin.
Naval insiders were relieved to have concluded the incident relatively quickly once the police asked for help. “This was happening pretty much in the Royal Navy’s backyard. I think they were keen to show they could put a stop to it,” a naval source said.
The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, and the home secretary, Priti Patel, authorised armed forces personnel to board the ship in the Channel in response to a police request, the MoD said.
Wallace 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.”
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said the boarding of the tanker by British armed forces was a “good outcome”. “Seven stowaways on board taking over a ship or causing the ship not to be in full command would have triggered a multi-agency alarm and then well-rehearsed classified protocols were put into action,” he told the BBC.
“Initially, it didn’t look like this was terrorist-related nor involving WMD, but the erratic behaviour [of the ship] was concerning. The safety of the crew was important, as is indeed any unauthorised movement towards the coast. I am pleased to see that swift action has been taken.”
BBC, Guardian UK