Seven detained in suspected hijacking incident on tanker off Isle of Wight

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen has the latest

Seven people have been detained in a military operation on board a tanker off the Isle of Wight.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed Armed Forces had boarded the ship on Saturday evening after what it described as a "suspected hijacking".

All 22 crew members are "safe and well," Hampshire Police confirmed and an investigation is underway.

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen understands around 40 forces personnel and four helicopters were involved in the operation, while police detained the seven individuals.

Police have been responding to the incident throughout Sunday and earlier confirmed "a number on stowaways" were on board the Nave Andromeda.

Hampshire Police said the group "made verbal threats towards the crew" but that there had been no reports of any injuries.

In a statement Defence Secretary Ben Wallace praised the military for its response.

"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," he said.

"People are safe tonight thanks to their efforts."

Authorities were made aware of the incident shortly after 10am on Sunday. Credit: ITV News

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorised armed forces personnel to board the ship in the English Channel following a police request, the MoD said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “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.”

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the boarding of the tanker Nave Andromeda by British armed forces was a "good outcome".

He told BBC News: "Seven stowaways on board taking over a ship or causing the ship not to be in full command would have triggered a multi-agency alarm and then well-rehearsed classified protocols were then put into action.

"Initially it didn’t look like this was terrorist-related nor involving WMD but the erratic behaviour was concerning.

"The safety of the crew was important as is indeed any unauthorised movement towards the coast. I am pleased to see that swift action has been taken. This is a good outcome."

A multi-agency response - including police, the coastguard, and Border Force - was initiated after the alarm was raised shortly after 10am Sunday.

The vessel had been travelling in the direction of Southampton having sailed from Lagos in Nigeria.

As the incident unfolded authorities set an exclusion zone, with a three mile radius, around the vessel.

Helicopters were spotted circling the vessel on Sunday afternoon, and the coastguard has confirmed local search and rescue helicopters are in attendance.

A spokeswoman for Associated British Ports (ABP), which runs Southampton port, said they had not had any contact with the vessel.

Bob Seely, Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, said the incident would be treated as a "marine counter-terrorism" incident and a meeting of the government Cobra emergency committee would be held to discuss the response.

He said he expected specialist units to be scrambled to handle the situation.

He told Sky News: "Despite being told not to drop anchor, the skipper has dropped anchor and the ship may be now under the control of stowaways on the ship.

"I suspect because of the nature of this it will be treated as marine counter-terrorism and the number of people in the UK who do that are very limited and the relevant units will be looking at options no doubt as to what we could be doing."