A Liberian registered crude oil tanker has been reportedly “hijacked by stowaways” off the coast of Isle of White, on Sunday.
The HM Coastguard are circling the vessel called the Nave Andromeda after a “major incident” has been issued.
The crude oil tanker gave a mayday call at around 9am and the ships crew are “sheltering” across certain areas of the vessel. Sky News reported that “at least half a dozen stowaways.”
A statement from Hampshire Police said, “We are aware and dealing with an ongoing incident on board a vessel which is situated south of the Isle of Wight.”
A HM Coastguard spokesman said, “We are currently assisting Hampshire Constabulary with an incident on board a vessel situated off the Isle of Wight.
“The search and rescue helicopters from Lee on Solent and Lydd are in attendance.”
The hijacking will most likely to lead to the involvement of the Royal Navy and the Special Boat Service (SBS), who are located just a few miles away in Poole, Dorset.
Sky News, Mark White said, “It is clearly a serious incident that is unfolding,” Mr White said.
“For the authorities, as well as ensuring this tanker comes into no harm, they want to make sure any other vessels around this oil tanker are safe and out of the way.
“But the top priority for the authorities is to make sure the crew are safe.”
British Special Forces stormed an Italian cargo ship in December 2018, British forces stormed an Italian cargo ship after stowaways threatened crew members as it sailed in the Thames Estuary.
Local MP Bob Seely has told Sky News he expects the hijacking will be handled by marine counter-terrorism forces and that a COBR meeting has likely been held.
He said authorities are also likely to be planning how to get onto the ship.
Seely said, “They will be looking at the ship’s registration, who’s on it, what it is carrying, how many stowaways there are, can they get in contact with the crew if they can’t get in contact with the skipper.”
However lawyers representing the vessel’s owners, told the BBC the incident was “100% not a hijacking.”
A restriction zone of five nautical miles has been placed around the crude oil tanker.