A group of at least seven Nigerian stowaways has been discovered hidden aboard an oil tanker as it headed into Southampton, , South East England.
The stowaways were found aboard the Libyan-registered oil tanker near to the Isle of Wight.
This triggered security concerns, with the ship sailors alerting the police at around 9am today.
Crew members are reportedly sheltering in a safe room on the vessel, named the ‘Nave Andromeda’, with initial reports suggesting the incident was a hijacking.
However lawyers representing the vessel’s owners, which had come from Nigeria, told the BBC the incident was “100 per cent not a hijacking”.
The crude oil tanker is currently to the south of Bembridge.
Police have set up a five mile exclusion zone around the ship.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is being kept up-to-date on the incident, according to Sky News.
A spokesperson for the UK Chamber of Shipping said, “We are aware of an incident onboard the Nave Andromeda off the Isle of Wight and are in contact with the relevant authorities. We believe it is likely to be related to stowaways onboard but are awaiting more information.”
The developing incident was reminiscent of another in December 2018 when four Nigerian stowaways were found on another ship sailing into the UK.
When they were found, they hurled faeces at the sailors and vowed to infect them with HIV. They were however arrested and jailed in January this year for a total of seven years.
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