British soldiers on Sunday boarded an oil tanker off England’s south coast and detained seven suspects, the defence ministry said, after the crew were forced to take shelter from stowaways who threatened them.
The alert was raised for the welfare of the crew of the Nave Andromeda tanker around 1000 GMT after they were forced to retreat to a safe area.
“In response to a police request, the Defence Secretary and Home Secretary authorised Armed Forces personnel to board a ship in the English Channel… that was subject to suspected hijacking,” the Ministry of Defence posted on Twitter.
“Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained,” the ministry said, adding that the crew were “safe and well”.
British media said the boat was stormed by the Special Boat Service with 16 personnel boarding the Liberian-registered tanker.
Those arrested were reportedly Nigerian stowaways.
A source on the Isle of Wight off the south coast told Britain’s Daily Mail: “The captain clearly stated he feared for (the crew’s) lives and needed urgent assistance, they needed rescuing…. It was desperation, you could hear the fear in his voice.”
The Defence Ministry said police investigations “will now continue”.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that the operation had taken place “in dark skies, and worsening weather”.
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