The Andromeda ship finally reached its port of arrival, Southampton, on Monday morning when it was expected to load up with oil. The 22 members of his crew are unharmed. The evening before, a British navy operation in the English Channel, south of the Isle of Wight, led to the arrest of seven Nigerian stowaways, discovered shortly before hidden in the bowels of the monstrous 228-meter tanker long, holding up to 42,000 tonnes of fuel oil.
Around 10 a.m., the captain of the Andromeda ship, sailing under the Liberian flag, appealed for help, fearing to lose control of his ship. Members of the crew attempted to lock these seven stowaways in a cabin, they responded violently and threatened with death. The tanker had left the Nigerian port of Lagos on October 6, suggesting that they had been hidden there for twenty days.
“I’m trying to keep calm but please send help”, pleaded the captain in his call for help. Some members of the crew had taken refuge in a bunkerized cabin provided in the event of a pirate attack. Ten hours later, the intervention of the army was launched. “In response to a request from the police, the Minister of Defense and the Minister of the Interior authorized members of the armed forces to board a ship in the English Channel to ensure the safety of lives and a vessel which was the subject of a suspected piracy “, the UK Ministry of Defense tweeted, early this Monday morning. The Andromeda ship had dropped anchor after following a very haphazard course some six nautical miles off the coast of the Isle of Wight.
Special Boat Service
This stroll raised suspicions of hijacking by the seven Nigerians traveling illegally and justified the organization of this large-scale operation. However, nothing yet suggests that it was an attempt to hijack the ship. The Greek shipowner, Navios Maritime Holdings, assured that this was not the case and military sources cited by the Daily Telegraph claimed that the captain had always been in control of the vessel. Still suspected of having attempted to take control of the ship by using force, the seven people arrested “Remain in police custody in Hampshire police stations”, British police said.
The raid lasted nine minutes. The 16 soldiers of the Special Boat Service, an elite unit of the Royal Navy specializing in counterterrorism, slipped on ropes aboard the ship from four helicopters mobilized for the operation. The shipowner announced on Monday morning that no member of the crew had been injured, thanking the British authorities for their swift and professional response.
Migrant arrivals are more and more numerous on the British coasts from France, aboard precarious boats: more than 7,000 arrivals have been recorded since the beginning of the year, four times more than in 2019. Even though they only represent a tiny fraction of asylum claims made each year in the UK, Home Secretary Priti Patel is focusing on crossings to promote ultra-firm migration policy of his government.