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Four Stowaways Threaten Con/Ro's Crew with Iron Bars

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The Grande Tema (file image courtesy Hafen Hamburg)

By The Maritime Executive 2018-12-21 13:59:37

Four stowaways aboard the con/ro Grande Tema have taken control of one of the ship's decks, according to vessel operator Grimaldi Lines.

The crew discovered the stowaways early this week as the Tema made her way from Nigeria to the port of Tilbury, UK. The master had the unauthorized passengers locked away in a cabin, and the crew provided them with food during the journey. 

However, on Friday morning, the men broke out of their cabin and threatened the crew with iron bars. The Grande Tema's 27 crewmembers locked themselves on the bridge in order to ensure their own security, and they have been circling in a holding pattern off Margate in the English Channel while waiting for a police boarding party.

"We are still waiting for the authorities to intervene," said Grimaldi spokesman Paul Kyprianou, speaking to the AFP.

The Essex Police said in a statement that the agency continues to deal with the situation, and characterized it as a safety-related incident but not an act of piracy. “We have received no reports that anyone has been harmed and don’t believe they are at risk. We are not treating this as either a hostage, piracy or terror-related incident," Essex Police said. "We are working closely with our partners to resolve this incident as quick as possible. We are not in a position to provide any details about who is on board at this stage.”

According to AIS data, the Tema began to reduce speed at 0920 hours GMT as she passed Ramsgate. She then entered a circular holding pattern at the entrance to the River Thames. As of Friday evening, she was still waiting off Margate, under way at a slow bell.