- The British version of the Navy SEALs performed a daring rescue Sunday after an oil tanker alerted the police to a suspected hijacking.
- The Special Boat Service took control of the Nave Andromeda after dark in nine minutes, ending a 10-hour standoff, Sky News reported.
- The crew had found seven stowaways, believed to be asylum seekers from Nigeria, before alerting the police, according to the BBC.
- Believing that the crew had lost control of the ship, the UK Ministry of Defence authorised 16 SBS troops to descend on ropes from Royal Navy helicopters, the BBC reported.
- The stowaways were detained, and the ship docked at Southampton on Sunday.
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The elite Special Boat Service, Britain’s equivalent of the US Navy SEALS, took control of an oil tanker on Sunday after a suspected hijacking in the English Channel.
The SBS stormed the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda after dark and gained control in about nine minutes, the BBC reported.
The raid, conducted by troops who descended on ropes from Royal Navy helicopters, ended a 10-hour deadlock that began when the crew sounded a distress call along England’s southern coast, near the Isle of Wight.
Seven stowaways, believed to be Nigerians seeking asylum in the UK, have been detained and are suspected of hijacking the vessel, according to the BBC.
The 16 SBS members took the vessel by fast-roping from four Royal Navy helicopters in what Defence Secretary Ben Wallace described as “dark skies and worsening weather.”
All of the tanker’s 22 crew members are safe, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.
Defence Secretary @BWallaceMP: "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.”
— Ministry of Defence ???????? (@DefenceHQ) October 25, 2020
The crew members were first suspected to be in trouble at 10:04 a.m. local time, Sky News reported.
Richard Meade, the editor of the shipping-news journal Lloyd’s List, told Sky that crew members found the stowaways and tried to lock them in a cabin.
The stowaways made “verbal threats,” Sky reported the local police as saying. Meade told Sky that the situation then became violent.
The crew members withdrew to the ship’s strong room â€” known as the “citadel” â€” the BBC reported. This allowed them to stay safe while they called the Hampshire police force for help, who in turn asked for military assistance, according to the outlet.
A 3-mile exclusion zone was put around the vessel as authorities responded.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who authorised the SBS involvement, praised the “quick and decisive” action of the police and the military.
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. https://t.co/ZYGu2LdAUk
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) October 25, 2020
The Nave Andromeda later docked at the Port of Southampton.
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