Police have confirmed an incident on board a vessel off the Isle of Wight following reports of an attempted hijacking of an oil tanker. The incident is reported to have taken place on board the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda crude oil tanker.
What’s happening off the Isle of Wight?
Police have confirmed there is an ongoing incident onboard a vessel off the Isle of Wight, south of Sandown according to Isle of Wight radio.
According to maritime tracking websites, the Nave Andromeda had sailed from Lagos, Nigeria, on October 5.
However, lawyers representing the vessel’s owners, said the incident was “100 percent not a hijacking” despite reports.
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The owners’ lawyers have said it was known for a period of time there were stowaways were on board.
Police said the vessel, located around six miles off the coast of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, had been travelling in the direction of Southampton.
It added in a statement on Sunday evening: “It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made verbal threats towards the crew. No one has been reported injured.
“An exclusion zone, with a three-mile radius, is currently in place near the vessel.”
Police are working alongside the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and Border Force in responding to the incident.
John Thompson, co-founder of Ambrey, a maritime security firm advising the ship’s Greek owners on Sunday, told the Financial Times the incident was “definitely not a hijacking”.
He told the publication: “It’s stowaways who have got a bit rowdy with the crew.”
Mick Cash, general secretary of the maritime union RMT, said: “We urge the UK Government to do all it can to prevent any harm coming to crew or anyone else on the Nove Andromeda.
“This is a troubling incident which must not escalate to further jeopardise crew welfare or maritime safety in what is an extremely busy area for merchant shipping.
“We must call on all parties, including the Greek shipowner to take action to resolve this incident safely and quickly.”
A UK Chamber of Shipping spokesperson said: “We are aware of an incident on board the Nave Andromeda off the Isle of Wight and are in contact with the relevant authorities.
“We believe it is likely to be related to stowaways onboard but are awaiting more information.”
It is believed the 228-metre tanker was expected to dock in Southampton at 10.30am on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for Associated British Ports (ABP) said it had no comment on the incident.
It is understood the port received contact from the ship but it had not been refused entry to the harbour.
Two coastguard helicopters were scrambled to the scene and spotted circling the ship on Sunday afternoon.
A Coastguard spokeswoman said: “We are currently assisting Hampshire Constabulary with an incident onboard a vessel situated off the Isle of Wight.
“The search and rescue helicopters from Lee on Solent and Lydd are in attendance.”
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said it is aware of the incident.
Local MP Bob Seely said a Cobra meeting is about to happen, and told Sky News: “The relevant units will be looking at options as to what we can do.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman has confirmed there was no military involvement in the incident.