The recent suspected hijacking incident involving an oil tanker near the Isle of Wight was a “lucky escape” for the shipping industry because it occurred in British waters, according to former Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani.

In a new report for Policy Exchange, published today, the Conservative MP says that “the UK has excellent policing, coastguard and defence resources, with authorities that can cooperate with one another effectively and are well-equipped to deal with such incidents. Many other nations do not have such resources at their disposal.”

In the wake of the suspecting hijacking, Ghani says the UK should use its role as host of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – the only UN body headquartered in Britain – to improve global shipping security.

The former Transport Minister writes:

“When incidents like this occur elsewhere in the world, they can often lead to a protracted stand-off.  It is also fortunate that the Nave Andromeda was a Liberian-flagged vessel; it is easy to see how the situation could quickly have developed geopolitical complications if the vessel had been flying a Russian or Chinese flag, for example.

The IMO is in theory responsible for the safety and security of international shipping, but in practice it lacks the capacity to deal with incidents such as this. IMO guidelines mandate that vessels are searched prior to departure, but in developing countries with less stringent security measures stowaways are able to slip through.”

She also issues a stark warning about the state of the UK maritime sector during the Covid-19 pandemic:

“The Government risks overlooking the Maritime sector in its economic response to the Coronavirus crisis. Thus far, the Department for Transport has focused its attention primarily upon the aviation industry. There has not been comparable, or even near-comparable, engagement with the maritime sector. Both are key to British prosperity, to the movement of freight and people, and to the livelihood of many communities. The Government cannot choose between the two of them.”

The Policy Exchange report, A Global Maritime Power: Building a Better Future For Post-Brexit Britain, co-authored by Nusrat Ghani, also argues that:

  • The maritime sector is crucial to the UK economy, and risks being overlooked by the Government in its response to Coronavirus;
  • The Government should invest in shipbuilding and port infrastructure to ensure that the ‘levelling up’ agenda benefits coastal communities;
  • The Government should review EU-derived rules governing the maritime sector after the end of the transition period;
  • ‘Free Ports’ will only be successful in the UK if they include tax and regulatory incentives, and are not overseen by local authorities;
  • The Government should seek to liberalise trade in maritime services when striking new trade deals after Brexit;
  • The Government should fast-track funding and testing for emerging maritime technologies, such as drones and unmanned vessels;
  • The Government should support investment in low emission shipping in order to achieve Net Zero by 2050, and use the upcoming COP26 climate change conference to encourage other countries to do the same.

The paper has been endorsed by Labour peer Admiral Lord West, former First Sea Lord and former Security Minister, who said:

“For many years successive governments have failed to understand that the maritime sector is one of the nation’s greatest assets. It is crucially important both strategically and economically, being fundamental to energy and food supply and the manufacturing industry. Global shipping is still effectively run from London in terms of insurance, arbitration and other shipping services.

Despite this it has been overlooked by policymakers and having been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t received the same attention as other industries. This excellent new report by Policy Exchange highlights the importance of the sector, the challenges it faces, and the practical steps that can be taken to support it. Its proposals should be taken seriously at the highest levels of Government.”

The UK maritime sector: 95% of all UK goods trade by volume is transported by sea, as is 25% of UK energy and 48% of UK food supplies.

According to MaritimeUK, the sector supported a total of £46.1 billion to the UK’s Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2017 and employed 220,000 people. Each year UK ports handle nearly 500 million tonnes of freight and 60 million international and domestic passenger journeys.

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No worries, the hijackers are already out on bail


They are bailed, but still in custody.

Gavin Gordon

Yeh, that’s what bail means. Clearly hijackers are honourable folk. What a relief!

Gavin Gordon

Ah, in custody to HMBF

Gavin Gordon

Sorry for the sarcastic tone yesterday, Trevor, it was unbecoming. Case of shooting from the lip without engaging brain. Should know better as I worked for them for years! Still, even I thought that hijacking with SBS involvement would lead to more than basically standard illegal immigration controls. Somehow threatening the crew and interfering with the operational procedure of a commercial vessel does not fit with a picture of poor downtrodden refugees pleading for succour. We went from reports that the situation ‘could possibly lead to life imprisonment’, albeit clearly never going to happen of course, to ‘bailed’ in the… Read more »



barry white

And in a nice warm hotel somewhere

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. No wonder the UK is seen as a soft touch. Enter legally and one should be fairly treated until their claim is shown to be legitimate or false. Enter illegally and one should be deported. It’s very simple. Would I be put up in a hotel if I illegally entered another’s property? Unfortunately the HR lawyers will drag the process out, even timing an intervention as deporteees are on the plane. So they join the thousands stuck in the system, which is undermined to start with. Let’s hope they don’t do another Reading, Nice, Manchester, or Glasgow. They’ve already… Read more »


Looks as if no one has taken ‘offesnse’ Daniele 🙂

Daniele Mandelli

Morning H. Good Lord, I re read that and missed that mobile phone spelling. Apologies. Lol

Daniele Mandelli

Where is the edit function?


I was once asked to proof read someone’s dissertation (pre-spell check)….I wasn’t asked again. It’s so easy to miss errors…its as if, at times, the brain isn’t registering what the eyes are seeing. I call it the Carol Vorderman effect!

Daniele Mandelli

Morning H. To be fair, I would miss much if Carol Vorderman was in view….another in that category is Nigella Lawson!!!!

Robert Blay

There is also a strong case to say not everyone trying to enter the UK is a terrorist or planing dastardly deeds. Many are trying to simply try for a better life, and are desperate to do so. We don’t know the desperation of trying to flee a war revagaged country. like these poor bastards trying to cross the channel, or the med, things must be pretty grim to take that kind of risk.

Daniele Mandelli

Of course Robert, no-one is disputing that. I have some of an idea, at least. My own father came to England penniless in 1962 on a ferry, looking for a job. He knows what being hungry means. He was in wartime Rome, I can appreciate this. Question. Do you really think they are all fleeing war? Because if they are why are there not a majority of women and children amongst them ? ( Yes I know of the poor lad the other day) They are mostly young adult males on the boats crossing the med from Libya and the… Read more »

Robert Blay

the year ending March 2019, 612,000 people moved to the UK (immigration) and 385,000 people left the UK (emigration). Long-term immigration, emigration and net migration have remained broadly stable since the end of 2016. Those figures are both EU and none EU citizens. The peak was in 2015 apparently. I’m not denying at all the long term population challenges (globally) but to lay the blame at the door of people a lot worse off then ourselves, males, females, whole families is not telling the whole story. Countries closer to home do need to do a lot more to help, but… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I don’t forget what a wonderful nation we have Robert… I worry too many of the world’s poor don’t forget either. There is only so much a nation can accept. Yes, I can accept and get your point that not all have bad intentions. The minority of course. The point is that minority get the chance to act because of it. The Southfields bomber was another I believe. How many get deported? I’d like to see accurate figures vs those whom have no right to remain but due to PC and action by the HR lobby, and funded by the… Read more »

Peter S.

There are really two separate issues. First is the risk to security posed by the entry of migrants from Muslim countries, eg the Libyan mass murderers in Manchester or more recently the Tunisian butcher in Nice. No-one who might pose a risk to UK people should ever be allowed in, no matter what sob story they concoct. We must operate on a presumption of threat. The second issue is the scale of general immigration. The official net totals amount to a city the size of Southampton every year. Britain, and more particularly England,is one of the most densely populated countries… Read more »


Great post Daniele. The population of South Africa has doubled in the time I have lived here. Virtually every town and city in the country is blighted by’informal settlements’. This situation is echoed throughout the Third Word. It is unsustainable and by allowing such people to enter stable First World countries, the disease is spread. The answer is simple-it is the primary and urgent duty of each country individually to stabilise its population. Those that wont such as nations in Africa and in particular(and inexplicably) the great civilisation of India, will pay a terrible price and must bear the responsibility… Read more »


Its now come out in the wash, that the Spanish and French refused to take action against the stowaways and simply allowed the ship to continue to British waters.


Stowaways’ tanker was denied port access by France and SpainThe vessel spent 24 hours off the French coast near the Donges refinery from October 20, before sailing north, vessel-tracking data show Despite passing through the jurisdiction of France, Spain and Portugal, Nave Andromeda ended up becoming the responsibility of British authorities. Amid claims that France denied a request from the master to berth, Spain has confirmed it was contacted about access to Las Palmas port. FRANCE and Spain refused a request by the master of an aframax product tanker to allow seven Nigerian stowaways found on board to disembark. The… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Well well well farouk.
Fancy that, nations such as France and Spain standing up and saying no, as is their right.
Good on them.


Yes. This is wrong. Im assuming that the captain asked for Spanish and French assistance.


I’m not taking offence. But an hour before you (and others) posted about this l pointed out that they are still in custody… bail or not. They are Nigerian, for all you or anybody knows they are Christian.

Its quite possible that they ought to be able to be sent back to Nigeria. Generally i think we should build a camp in Ascension Island for illegal migrants, although I dont see these Nigerians being the same problem as the ones escaping France.

Daniele Mandelli

I’m glad Trevor, because this is a touchy subject for some, so a frank discussion of opinions is refreshing. It is needed, nationwide, on this issue. Actually, I broadly agree on your points. One issue with those from across the channel is the criminal gangs exploiting many of them, and the money many pay. Whether governments are getting to grips with or just paying lip service I dont know. I think a place for illegal migrants offshore is a great idea. I’ve seen it suggested elsewhere, and ironically thought of Ascension myself, but didn’t include it in my first post.… Read more »


Yes… I’m not sure where Australia puts them. And I’m guessing too these migrants ate beibg pushed here by gangs.

Then we have effectively got modern slavery. Amazingly I am told that nail bars are a centre for slavery, but thats just one!


what is interesting is the noted sea blindness of this and other governments. We are so use to the seas being open there is no real though about what a struggle this was and what it means. the truth is we could very easily live without the commercial air. The internet and digital age have removed many of the key things that flight gave us. That ability to head to Newyork for a meeting in 8 hours has now been made less important with instant robust communications and meeting platforms, air mail is now about parcels of niceness not important… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Brilliant post IMO.

john melling

Thumbs up to that post ;P

Expat alien

Totally agree – well said Jonathan