SBS Boarding Team Detains Stowaways After Confrontation Aboard Tanker

Nave Andromeda in October 2018 (file image courtesy Bristol Port Company)

Published Oct 25, 2020 6:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Sunday, a group of stowaways engaged in a confrontation with the crew of the 75,000 dwt tanker Nave Andromeda off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

At about 1000 hours GMT, as the Nave Andromeda was under way and nearing the port of Southampton, she reported an onboard incident involving stowaways. The crew locked themselves in the vessel's citadel as a precautionary measure, and the Hampshire Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Royal Navy responded to the incident. 

After nightfall, a 16-member Special Boat Service boarding team attended the scene and detained the suspects. Four helicopters and the frigate HMS Richmond participated in the raid.

“In response to a police request, the Defence Secretary and Home Secretary authorised Armed Forces personnel to board a ship in the English Channel to safeguard life and secure a ship that was subject to suspected hijacking. Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained," said the UK Ministry of Defence in a statement. "Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well."

The circumstances of the incident have not been released, but the shipowner's representative told the BBC that it was "100 percent not a hijacking." 

At the time of the incident, the Nave Andromeda was under way from Lagos to Southampton with a cargo of crude oil. Her crew is now back in control of the ship, and she is expected to proceed into port under escort Sunday night. 

"I want to thank Hampshire Police, the coastguard agency, the crew of HMS Richmond and all our armed forces involved tonight in securing Nave Andromeda off the coast of the Isle of Wight," said local MP Stephen Morgan in a statement.