The British military seized control of an oil tanker near the Isle of Wight on Sunday and detained seven stowaways on board.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorised the action in response to a police request, the Ministry of Defence said, adding that the tanker’s crew was safe and well
“I commend the hard work of the armed forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship,” Wallace said. “In dark skies and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel.”
The incident began at 10:04 GMT, when concerns were raised to police regarding the welfare of crew members on board a tanker named the Nave Andromeda, according to a police spokesman representing the Hampshire Constabulary. A number of stowaways were on board, and they had made verbal threats toward the crew, said the police, adding that no one has been reported injured.
The vessel, which had been traveling in the direction of Southampton, was situated approximately six miles off the coast of Bembridge, Isle of Wight, the spokesman said in an email to The Epoch Times.
Police worked closely with the Maritime & 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.
Refinitiv vessel tracking data showed the Liberia-flagged Nave Andromeda had been expected to arrive in Southampton at 10:30 GMT on Sunday. The vessel had departed from Lagos, Nigeria, the data showed.
The Nave Andromeda’s registered owner is Folegandros Shipping Corp, and the vessel is managed by Greek shipping company Navios Tankers Management Inc., according to Refinitiv.
In December 2018, British forces stormed an Italian cargo ship and regained control after stowaways threatened crew as it sailed close to the southeast coast.
Several thousand migrants have attempted the crossing this year, often paying traffickers to help them traverse one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in overloaded rubber dinghies.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.