Stowaways threaten tanker crew in English Channel

The ship was around six miles off the Isle of Wight on England’s south coast.
The ship was around six miles off the Isle of Wight on England’s south coast. PHOTO: HUW GIBBY/REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) – Stowaways threatened the crew of an oil tanker at sea off England’s south coast, police said Sunday (Oct 25), adding that the incident was still ongoing almost nine hours after the alarm was first raised. 

“Concerns were raised to police for the welfare of the crew aboard the Nave Andromeda” tanker at 1004 GMT, police said in a statement. 

The ship was around six miles off the Isle of Wight on England’s south coast. 

Stowaways “had made verbal threats towards the crew” but “no one has been reported injured”, police in the southern county of Hampshire said, adding that they had imposed a three-mile (five kilometres) exclusion zone around the tanker. 

Britain’s coastguard and border protection agencies had been called in to help defuse the incident, the statement continued. 

A coastguard spokesman said two helicopters had been sent to support the police.  Law firm Tatham & Co., which represents the ship’s owners, told the BBC that the incident was “100 per cent not a hijacking”. 

Rather, the stowaways resisted being locked in a cabin after being discovered, the lawyers added. 

A source close to the shipping company also told the BBC that crew had been aware of stowaways on board for some time, but that they had turned violent as the vessel approached Britain. 

The crew then retreated to the ship’s secure citadel, where attackers are unable to enter, added the source. 

The boat left Nigeria last week carrying 42,000 tonnes of crude oil and was due to dock in Southampton earlier Sunday.