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UK Armed Forces Storm Oil Tanker After Suspected Hijacking

The UK armed forces boarded an oil tanker off England on Sunday evening, ending a 10-hour standoff in which stowaways on the vessels had threatened the crew in what UK authorities described as a “suspected hijacking.”

Seven individuals have been detained, while all 22 crew of the oil tanker are safe and well, the UK authorities said, after the Special Boat Service (SBS) put an end to the 10-hour standoff with an operation that lasted just nine minutes.  

The Nave Andromeda crude oil tanker, traveling under the flag of Liberia, departed from Lagos, Nigeria, in early October and was due to arrive at the Fawley Oil Refinery near Southampton in England.

The tanker was already approaching its destination when stowaways on the vessel made threats to the crew while the tanker was in the English Channel, just east of the Isle of Wight. The stowaways are believed to be Nigerians who were planning to seek asylum in the UK, according to BBC’s defense correspondent Jonathan Beale.

The UK Ministry of Defence said late on Sunday local time that “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. Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well,” the ministry said.

The local police of the Hampshire Constabulary said that on the morning on Sunday, “concerns were raised to police for the welfare of crew on board the vessel, which was situated approximately six miles off the coast of Bembridge.”

“Following a multi-agency response by police with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police. All 22 crew members are safe and well,” the police said, adding that they were investigating the incident to establish the full circumstances.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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