UK’s Special Boat Service Storms Tanker Off Isle of Wight after Suspected Hijack Attempt

Special Boat Service (SBS), the special forces unit of the UK Royal Navy, stormed a Liberian registered tanker off the Isle of Wight after a suspected hijack attempt.

The special forces responded after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorized Armed Forces personnel to board the ship, Nave Andromeda, in the English Channel following a request for help from Hampshire Police. UK special forces reportedly completed the operation in nine minutes.

According to a statement from the UK Ministry of Defence, the Armed forces gained control of the ship and seven individuals were detained. The statement said that the initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well adding that the police investigations on the incident will now continue.

The SBS team used two Royal Navy Merlin (AW101) and two AW159 Wildcat helicopters to board the tanker, which left Lagos, Nigeria for UK on October 5.

The seven suspected stowaways boarded the vessel in Nigeria and the crew were aware of their presence for some time. According to BBC report, the stowaways became violent towards the crew while it was off the Isle of Wight with the crew retreating to the ship’s citadel, a secure area in which they can lock themselves.


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The crew contacted the coastguard, which then alerted police. Hampshire Police as well as UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) initially dealt with the incident.

The tanker Andromeda is owned by Greek shipping company Navios Maritime Holdings. The vessel was on its way to Fawley oil refinery on Southampton Water when the suspected hijack attempt occurred.

Defence Secretary Ben 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.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Tonight we are thankful for the quick and decisive action of our police and armed forces who were able to bring this situation under control, guaranteeing the safety of all those on board.”

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