Crew safe, 7 detained after UK special forces raid tanker

LONDON (AP) — All crew members of an oil tanker that was stormed by British naval special forces after a group of stowaways threatened violence are “safe and well”, the ship‘s operator confirmed yesterday.

Seven people were detained in the raid, which unfolded in the English Channel after darkness fell on Sunday. Special Boat Service commandos were lowered by rope from helicopters onto the Nave Andromeda, whose crew had locked themselves in a secure part of the ship known as the citadel. Within minutes, the stowaways — believed to be from Nigeria — were in custody.

The Special Boat Service is the elite maritime counter-terrorism unit of the United Kingdom’s (UK) Royal Navy.

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 behaviour of the stowaways”. It said in a statement that all 22 crew members were “safe and well”.

Maritime tracking websites showed the ship reached port in Southampton, on England’s south coast, early yesterday. The ship had left Lagos, Nigeria, on October 6 and had been due to dock in Southampton on Sunday morning. The raid followed a 10-hour standoff as the tanker circled an area a few miles southeast of the Isle of Wight, south of Southampton.

The Nave Andromeda oil tanker is docked next to the Queen Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal in Southampton, England yesterday. PHOTO: AP