UK authorities are responding to an incident involving stowaways on a tanker off the Isle of Wight with many reports pointing to a possible hijack attempt.
The UK Coast Guard said it was assisting Hampshire Constabulary “with an incident on board a vessel situated off the Isle of Wight.” The search and rescue helicopters from Lee on Solent and Lydd are in attendance, the service added.
Liberian-registered crude oil tanker Nave Andromeda has been anchored off the Isle of Wight since Sunday afternoon with a three mile exclusion zone reportedly in place around the vessel.
Reports also said that a Special Boat Service (SBS) team, a special forces unit of the Royal Navy, has been activated in response to the incident.
Nave Andromeda had been expected to dock in Southampton on Sunday, after getting underway from Nigeria earlier this month.
Update: Preliminary reports say that the incident has been resolved with seven individuals detained. This was the result of a military operation involving two Royal Navy wildcat helicopters and two Merlin helicopters with the special forces team. There are no reports of injuries at the time. The tanker crew remained safe in the ship’s citadel throughout the incident.
“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,” UK defense secretary Ben Wallace said following the military operation.