Photo: Illustration; Image courtesy: UK Royal Navy/HMS Richmond

7 stowaways arrested after UK forces take control over suspected hijacked tanker

British armed forces have taken control of the oil tanker Nave Andromeda after seven stowaways reportedly hijacked the vessel in the English Channel over the weekend.

The Liberian-flagged tanker arrived into UK waters on Sunday from Lagos, where the stowaways allegedly boarded the vessel.

The crew issued a mayday call on October 25, while situated south of the Isle of Wight. Based on the accounts from the ship operator’s spokesman, cited by the Wall Street Journal, the crew was threatened by the stowaways and retreated into the ship’s citadel for safety reasons.

It is not clear when the captain and the crew found the stowaways on board.

A 3 miles exclusion zone was put in place around Nave Andromeda after the mayday call. UK coastguard and police helicopters were sent to the scene to monitor the situation.

The UK Ministry of Defense said late last night that the Armed Forces boarded the stricken tanker following a request from the police.

Having gained control of the vessel, the armed forces detained seven individuals. The crew members are reported to be safe and well.

A police investigation into the case is underway.

Based on the information from VesselsValue, the LR 1 tanker, built in 2011, is owned by Avic Leasing and operated by Navios Maritime Acquisition from Greece.

“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,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

According to Dryad Global, such events are pretty rare in UK waters.

This incident appears to be the second such incident involving the hostile takeover of a vessel in English waters, involving stowaways with the first such incident recorded onboard the M/V Grand Tema in December 2018, the maritime security consultancy said.

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