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Isle of Wight oil tanker: Seven arrested on suspicion of hijacking

Ship’s operator praises crew for ‘fortitude in a difficult situation’

Jon Sharman
Monday 26 October 2020 15:28 GMT
Seven detained after armed forces gain control of oil tanker in Channel

Seven men detained following an SBS raid on an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight have been arrested on suspicion of hijacking.

The group is alleged to have tried to gain control of the Nave Andromeda on Sunday as it steamed toward Southampton.

Hampshire Police were told at about 10am on Sunday that stowaways had threatened the crew of the Liberian-flagged vessel. Some 10 hours later, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that British armed forces had boarded the ship and detained seven men.

All seven have now been arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force under section nine of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, Hampshire Police said. They are in custody in police stations around the county.

The Greek-run Nave Andromeda had sailed from Lagos, Nigeria before the alleged hijack attempt.

Its operator, Athens-based Navios Tanker Management, said in a statement: "Happily no crew members were injured and all are safe and well.

"[We] wish to thank all the UK Authorities involved in this operation for their timely and professional response.

“Navios would also like to pay tribute to the master of the Nave Andromeda for his exemplary response and calmness and to all the crew for their fortitude in a difficult situation.”

The Independent understands the alleged hijacking is not being treated as a terrorist incident.

Richard Meade, editor of the shipping intelligence website Lloyd's List, told The Independent on Sunday that stowaways were common in Nigeria and that they likely did not intend to come to the UK in particular. The Nave Andromeda’s destination would not have been advertised in Lagos, he said.

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