Nigerian Stowaways Detained Over Isle of Wight Tanker Incident Bailed by Police

October 30, 2020 Updated: October 30, 2020

Seven Nigerian stowaways detained on an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight on Sunday have been bailed by police, but remain in the custody of the UK Border Force.

The seven suspects were arrested on Sunday evening after British military personnel seized control of the crude oil tanker “Nave Andromeda” near the Isle of Wight.

Nave Andromeda
Nave Andromeda is seen in Portishead, United Kingdom, in a file photo. (Huw Gibby/via Reuters)

The men, who are all Nigerian nationals, were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force under the Aviation and Maritime and Security Act 1990.

They have “subsequently been bailed in relation to the criminal investigation whilst investigators continue their enquiries, but will now remain detained under Border Force powers,” the Hampshire Constabulary told The Epoch Times on Thursday evening in an emailed statement.

Nave Andromeda
Liberia-flagged oil tanker Nave Andromeda is seen at Southampton Docks on Oct. 26, 2020. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

The incident began on Sunday morning, when the master of the Liberia-flagged tanker informed the UK authorities that stowaways had been found on board and that he was concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behaviour of the stowaways.

The seven stowaways had illegally boarded the tanker in Lagos, Nigeria, the tanker’s Greek operator, Navios Tanker Management, told The Epoch Times in an email.

Police received the call just after 10 a.m. and were told the stowaways had made verbal threats towards the crew, according to a police spokesman.

Police worked closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Border Force to put the situation under control. An exclusion zone with a three-mile radius was put in place near the vessel.

“Following a multi-agency response by police with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police,” police said on Monday.

All 22 crew members are safe and well and the vessel is now in the port of Southampton.

British military personnel were involved in the operation in response to a police request, after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorised the action, the Ministry of Defence said.

“I commend the hard work of the armed forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship,” Wallace said on Sunday evening. “In dark skies and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel.”

Navios Tanker Management, which operates the tanker, said on Monday it wished to “thank all the UK authorities involved in this operation for their timely and professional response.”