7 stowaways who threatened the lives of 22 crew members aboard the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Nave Andromeda are being questioned by authorities this morning (Monday) following yesterday’s rescue mission off the coast of coasts of the Isle of Wight.
The UK’s elite Special Boat Service was recruited after Home Secretary Pritti Patel gave the green light for military intervention, with around 16 commandos boarding the Nave Andromeda near Ventnor under the covered with darkness.
The incident began around 10:00 am yesterday morning when the stowaways turned violent towards the crew of the tanker by making verbal threats. The captain quickly triggered a security alert and locked the vessel for fear of a hijacking. Some terrifying 10 hours later and the 22 crew members were rescued by the armed forces on a mission one would expect in the Gulf region, not UK waters.
4 military helicopters, 2 coast guard helicopters, 2 police helicopters, HMS Richmond, 2 all-weather lifeboats and several other craft all participated in the mission, which ended without injury just before 7:30 p.m.
Despite conflicting reports, the tanker was carrying no cargo – as first suggested by Island Echo in our early reports.
The Nave Andromeda is now safely docked at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal in Southampton.
So how did the incident unfold?
10:04 – The authorities alerted to the evolution of the situation on board the ship
10:32 – Island Echo made aware of the incident and mobilized a reporter
10:45 a.m. – The ship drops anchor and the captain requests immediate assistance
11:00 – Andromeda ship locked and anchored
11:17 – Island Echo captures the first photographs of the Cowleaze tanker
11:35 – Coastguard Rescue 175 in flight and heading for the ship
11:40 – Exclusion zone set up around the ship
12:30 p.m. – The tug Lomax leaves Southampton to the east of the Isle of Wight
12:44 – Island Echo requests the Ministry of Defense for a declaration
12:54 – Island Echo approach HM Coastguard for a statement
1:00 p.m. – Stowaways continue violence and try to access secure areas
13:49 – Island Echo publish a story and photographs
14:10 – The police position a surveillance officer and Island Echo requests a statement from the Hampshire Police
14:18 – Police issue a brief statement confirming an ongoing incident
14:32 – Lydd’s Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter arrives at the scene
14:37 – HM Coastguard issues statement confirming 2 rescue helicopters from Solent and Lydd are involved
14:40 – Bournemouth National Police Air Service helicopter arrives off the coast
16:05 – Metropolitan Police helicopter arrives overhead – NPAS Bournemouth returns to refuel
16:51 – Launch of the Bembridge RNLI and Selsey RNLI lifeboats
17:03 – NPAS Bournemouth returns to the scene
17:07 – RAF Chinook helicopters land at Special Boat Service HQ in Dorset
17:20 – Met Police helicopter flies to Lee-on-Solent to refuel
17:41 – The police leave the lookout post at nightfall
18:08 – Met Police helicopter returns overhead to take over from NPAS Bournemouth
18:31 – The lights of the Nave Andromeda are off
19:10 – 2 Royal Navy Merlin helicopters and 2 Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters are heading towards the target
7:30 p.m. – 7 people detained and 22 crew members found unharmed – the mission only took 7 to 9 minutes
21:20 – Bembridge Lifeboat has withdrawn from operation and returns to boathouse at sea
22:40 – The pilot arrives on the Nave Andromède and he begins his journey towards the port
02:00 – Nave Andromeda arrives at the quayside at the Queen Elizabeth II terminal in Southampton
Last night Interior Minister Priti Patel tweeted:
“We are grateful for the swift and decisive action of our police and military forces who were able to bring this situation under control, ensuring the safety of all on board.”
Ben Wallace, Secretary of Defense, added:
“I salute the hard work of the armed forces and the police to protect lives and secure the ship.
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“In a dark sky and deteriorating weather, we should all be grateful to our brave staff. People are safe tonight because of their efforts.