The Special Boat Service (SBS), a United Kingdom navy special forces unit that typically operates in secret, boarded the Nave Andromenda after it began showing signs of distress and hijacking just off the coast of southern England.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence said armed forces had boarded the ship to “safeguard life” after it sent out a Mayday signal.
The ministry reported seven people had been arrested and the entire crew of 22 were safe and well.
Refinitiv vessel tracking data showed the Liberia-flagged Nave Andromeda had been expected to arrive in the UK port of Southampton at 1030 GMT on Sunday. The vessel had departed from Lagos, Nigeria, the data showed.
Close to the Isle of Wight that, it appeared to have been hijacked, with UK special forces using helicopters to storm the vessel and detain seven suspects.
The Nave Andromeda’s registered owner is Folegandros Shipping Corp, and the vessel is managed by Greek shipping company Navios Tankers Management Inc., according to Refinitiv.
“The master became concerned at the behaviour of the stowaways and requested that the authorities intervene,” the company said.
“Troops from the Special Boat Service stormed the Nave Andromeda under cover of darkness and in a nine minute raid detained seven suspected migrants after they forced the giant vessel to drop anchor five miles off the Isle of Wight,” the Telegraph said.