SEVEN people have been detained after armed forces personnel boarded an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight, following reports its crew had been threatened by stowaways.
Hampshire police had requested military assistance in dealing with the situation on board the 228-metre Nave Andromeda.
The Ministry of Defence announced on Twitter on Sunday night: “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.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I commend the hard work of the armed forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship.
“In dark skies, and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel. People are safe tonight thanks to their efforts.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Tonight we are thankful for the quick and decisive action of our police and armed forces who were able to bring this situation under control, guaranteeing the safety of all those on board.”
Speaking shortly before the military action was confirmed by the MoD, Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, said: “We understand the vessel has been boarded by security forces and made safe.
“We commend the swift action taken by UK personnel to secure the vessel and most importantly the safety crew.”
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the boarding of the tanker was a “good outcome”.
He told BBC News: “Seven stowaways on board taking over a ship or causing the ship not to be in full command would have triggered a multi-agency alarm and then well-rehearsed classified protocols were then put into action.”