Seven Nigerian men have been arrested in the UK on suspicion of hijacking an oil tanker in the English Channel, Hampshire police announced on Monday October 28.
According to Sky News, the men who are stowaways from Lagos were seized when British naval special forces stormed the ship which left the metropolitan city on October 6 and had been due to dock in Southampton on Sunday morning.
The Police said the men were being held at several police stations on suspicion of “seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force.” However, they have not been charged.
They also confirmed that the 22 crew members who had locked themselves in a secure part of the Nave Andromeda were “safe and well” after the Sunday night raid.
Navios Tanker Management, which operates the Liberian-registered vessel, said the ship’s master became “concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behavior of the stowaways.”
A 10-hour standoff ensued as the tanker circled an area a few miles southeast of the Isle of Wight, south of Southampton.
“I think this has got all the hallmarks of a situation where a number of stowaways are seeking political asylum, presumably in the U.K.,” said Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the U.K. Chamber of Shipping. “At some stage they got aggressive.”
“Clearly no one knew at the time how aggressive they were, whether they were armed or not, what their motives were, because there will have been confusion at that stage,” he added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he couldn’t comment on “operational details” but noted that “both police and armed forces did a fantastic job” while thanking them for keeping the shores safe.