Seven suspects have been detained on board the oil tanker Nave Andromeda off the Isle of Wight after an operation involving a number of helicopters and the Special Boat Service.

The MV Nave Andromeda was seized by stowaways off the Isle of Wight earlier today, we reported on the incident here.

The Special Boat Service is the maritime special forces unit of the United Kingdom and is described as the sister unit of the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, most of the operations conducted by the SBS are highly classified and are rarely commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to their sensitive nature.

The Ministry of Defence said in a statement:

“In response to a police request, the Defence Secretary and Home Secretary authorised Armed Forces personnel to board a ship in the English Channel to safeguard life and secure a ship that was subject to suspected hijacking.

Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained. Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“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. People are safe tonight thanks to their efforts.”

It is understood that military assistance had been requested after ‘the stowaways became violent’.


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Squirrel Nutkins



Good work!

Daniele Mandelli

The best of the best.



Well done RN and the SBS. Glad we managed to get HMS Richmond out too. Perhaps next time we could do something before they get within 15 miles of the aircraft carriers? Small moan but otherwise all good.


Naval bases have had a permanent armed police boat patrolling on every occasion I’ve been there, if any boats get too close they are warned off. Shipping traffic is known, so any unexpected large ships arriving would stand out a mile.


If hijackers were hellbent on ramming the ships, potentially detonating oil on board when close enough, there’s not much the armed police boat could do about it.


This ship was empty, its riding high in the water, but a ram would damage it yes. There would be nothing that could prevent it in time.

Robert Blay

They where stow aways, not armed terrorists, we can’t have intelligence on every single vessel that enters our waters. This was was text book, no moans required.

David Flandry

Not too rarely commented on!

john melling

Spotlight on the RN and SBS operations in British waters for a change…
A quick end to a potential threat and I’m sure more information will enlighten us in the next few days as to what exactly had been going on!
15 miles seem a bit close… so did they crew have no idea until then?


Hi John,

Nice article on this over on Save the Royal Navy. It appears that the crew became aware of thre stow aways a few days before they entered UK waters.

It seems that the crew informed the French Authorities who refused the ship entry into their waters, so they continued on to UK waters where the stow aways became agitated that they would not be allowed to sneak away into the night…

Cheers CR

Levi Goldsteinberg

Plus Royal Navy Divers who in my experience are hard men that are too often overlooked in favour of the more glitzy units


Good job by all the services, the captain and crew should be mentioned as well. Looks like the captain crew were doing their jobs in trying to control the stow aways before coming into harbour/enclosed waters and when they lost control of shipboard security he took it on himself not to take the tanker into Solent lanes but instead Anchored in open water and secured the ship for rescue.


Very good point Jonathan. The skipper obviously decided not to bring 42,000 tones of crude into the the Solent under ‘alternative’ command. Good man.


Actually according to Save the Royal Navy the ship was in ballast, so no oil. Odd given it was coming up from Nigeria?

Also, it appears the French told the crew to stay out of their waters!


Great job as always

George Royce

Good show chaps


I see she is flying the Liberian flag-one of the first ‘flags of convenience’. It may or may not have bearing-the crew seem to have acted impeccably but in general terms, time maybe to look at this sector of the world’s mercantile fleet. In the case of the UK, it’s slip from number one in the list was largely due to the adoption of listing in fleets mainly from the Caribbean, Africa and the Far East to avoid stricter regulation and first world wage costs. The other issue highlighted by this is th steadyflow of illegals into the UK. the… Read more »


…if people can simply”walk in”…


Is Britain full, or have government after government used immigration as convenient thing to blame for pressure on the NHS, lack of affordable housing for young people, falling wages, etc. I’d argue that Britain has plenty of space, and plenty of space for assimilation. As you point out Britain is made up of millennia of immigration (bloody Romans coming over and stealing our oysters!). And there is an element of this that ties back to the Empire and the continued promotion of Great Britain across the world as great, powerful and free country (I don’t disagree on this). If you… Read more »


We certainly have problems in the UK and migration is definitely a convenient scape goat but given we live in a climate emergency would it not be a good thing to stop or at least curtail our population growth, reduce the destruction of our natural environment and become more self sufficient in food production. Net migration of 250,000 is not sustainable and you cannot build your way out of providing enough housing and public services with that level of growth coupled with demographic changes. Race or religion do not come into that equation. Migration has been used to fuel demand… Read more »


One thing I think we can all agree on-if we can halt the unsustainable growth in human numbers and then reverse it then all good things follow. Nature will punish us harshly otherwise-India for example has to be heading toward a catastrophic collapse with numbers already beyond sustainable. There is such a simple logic to this that a six year old could understand, and it is staring us in the face. Amazingly there are those who say we must ‘sustain growth’ and avoid an ageing population.
What a piece of work is Man..not


Apologies for belated reply manic period at work. I don’t disagree with you that globally environmental problems are causing a serious challenge, and whether we can couple carbon reduction/greener economic with current levels of migration I’d wouldn’t like to say as don’t feel I’d have the knowledge to give an informed opinion (try to stick to those on here otherwise chaos begins). In terms of your point on demographics changes I think this is one area where migration benefits our aging society. But on the whole I agree with you that migration of course has to be at sustainable levels… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Earlier in thread Matt posed a question I myself had thought of but Matt got in first: What happens when terrorists/hijackers do a 9/11 with an oil tanker rather than an airliner. Obviously it could be stormed quickly enough, look at the resources SF can call on at short notice from last night. But in case that failed, would a LGB dropped by Typhoon into the bridge area stop the vessel if it was headed to ram the carriers? And what of the collateral if it was rigged with explosives and carrying a full load of oil? I’m sure MoD… Read more »


Grossly over dramatic. I can’t think of any situation that would justify dropping lesbians, gays or bisexuals on an oil tanker.
There are hundreds of easier ways for an enemy to neuter the UKs carriers than ramming an oil tanker into them.

Daniele Mandelli


john melling

Now that’s funny ;P


Naughty boy! lol


Good Morning Daniele. Hope you are well in Sunny Surrey! You pose a scary and quite possible scenario. One would hope this has been war gamed by the Security establishment-don’t laugh, my worry is that this discussion between us might give the evil ones a new idea! The reality is that access via a large merchant vessel would be much easier than hijacking a plane and more difficult to detect! Also a big ship has huge momentum once at speed and even a hit by a Typhoon or the like would probably not be enough to bring to a short… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Morning, my friend. Appalling weekend here in stormy, windy, rainy Surrey. But today, it’s calm and Sunny! Exactly my thoughts re the tanker. Mod always have a contingency plan, no doubt about that. I’d read that plans of ships, important buildings, and other modes of transport are on the database that DSF can look at to get exact details of how to access and neutralise them. SF train with old trains, including underground carriages, bits of old planes, and even use underway ferries. In the south of England there is an entire train sitting in full view on G Earth… Read more »


Daniele….would you think a boat bomb attack similar to the USS Cole be a greater threat than an oil tanker

Daniele Mandelli

Probably, yes.


Hi Daniele. Thanks for your post. We live in a different and sinister new world with as you say, “Martyrs” wanting to go out in the proverbial Blaze of Glory. Hats off to the SF for all the amazing work they do in thwarting most of these threats. Hope the sun continues to shine in Surrey and that you and your family are well! If you ever plan on visiting Durban remember Summer is ironically the worst season-come in Winter when sunshine is guaranteed!

Supportive Bloke

It was gamed extensively from the 1980’s. Thatcher had a bee in her bonnet about North Sea platforms or tankers being hijacked. As others have said ships arrivals are well known in advance so one pitching up out of the blue or going rogue would be very, very obvious. Who says the captain did not have comms earlier? Maybe he was instructed to anchor there for a reason? Maybe anchoring there was a test of his control? Who says there wasn’t an armed helo or drone sent up to keep an eye? Given that it is a merchantman then this… Read more »


Hi Supportive Bloke.Interesting post. My “What if” is as follows-either a well planned takeover of a legitimate merchant ship on a legit journey with the hijackers ‘a la 9/11 standard’ following all the correct protocols right to the last, or a fully planned and carried out incursion from a Merchant vessel funded by Mr. Bin Laden the 2nd or one of the suspect Middle East regimes, so they have start to finish legitimate control of the vessel giving no possibility of a hijacked crew member calling the alarm? I am sure these scenarios have been thought through and we may… Read more »

Supportive Bloke

At the time the UK had two things that paid the national bills.

Oil and defence exports.

Oil money, mainly, made Nigel Lawson’s tax cuts possible.

In that context protecting that revenue stream as a priority makes a bit more sense as a political and national priority!

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks SB.

I was thinking more about reaction times, incase no vessel is available, and the ship is a known, but suddenly hijacked. Hence the Typhoon LGB comment, thinking that might arrive quicker than a ship.

30mm and AP could stop a tanker? Good to know, would have no idea.

Agree on SF use first. Just speculating on the escalation if It failed.

Supportive Bloke

30/40mm AP can make a real mess of things. All you need to do is hit the engine block and get some metal splinters in there and the thing will seize up pretty fast. Chances are that once you start punching rows of holes into an engine room you will hit something else critical anyway. Don’t underestimate how powerful and precise these things are. Or look at page 361 in Harrier 809 and you can see what a Dagger’s cannon did to the side of Brilliant and in doing so it shredded the loom for the aft Sea Wolf taking… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I’ve learnt something. Thank you. LGBs clearly a massive over kill.

Last edited 4 months ago by Daniele Mandelli

You could use a Paveway with a delayed action fuse or even Storm Shadow in this scenario, to punch a hole through the bottom of the ship. A couple of Brimestones fired into the engine room, would also be a pretty aggressive way to stop the ship in it tracks.


Thanks for the shout-out Daniele.
It’s been on my mind since the carrier was first moved there.
In a warlike scenario the carrier has a shield of ships, aircraft, subs and EM – as well as the fact it’s a moving target.
But when it’s back at home port, it’s just sitting there with no physical barrier. Yes a police boat can challenge a smaller vessel, but to stop something big at short notice… very difficult!
Hell even a cargo ship dropping empty containers in the river mouth would be a pain!
Anyways, have a good week matey.
[email protected]

Daniele Mandelli

No worries mate.

I’d read in the Cold War there was a worry that Russia would use some of their trawler fleet to scuttle off of NATO ports to impede entry, egress.
How you stop it, who knows. Sure MoD do.


I’m guessing the solution is lots of explosives, to clear the entry again afterwards.

Also big ships are not very fast and so in theory you have time to intercept it with a helicopter and take control and divert it.


Good work by all involved, and a solid end result. Inteeresting that the tanker was riding very high in the water implying it was empty, or mostly so. I wonder if it was emptied deliverately at some point on the way from Nigeria, because I can’t imagine they’d send a tanker from there to here without a full load. Also, not criticising the work done by any means, but isn’t the RM supposed to be doing opposed boarding these days? Or was the proximity to shipping lanes etc. enough to get the real masters involved (without taking anything away from… Read more »


SBS is based near Poole in Dorset at the other end of the Solent. Not quite a stones throw away but not far off of it. Ideally placed and no doubt on short notice alert they would be the logical choice to go and play.
No doubt the stowaway/hijackers had the fright of their lives when Knocker, Nobby, Smudge and Kiwi came a knocking on their door!


🙂 🙂


Sadly the cinque in me thinks it went like this: 7 people “pay” for passage to UK. “The Stowways”, keep a low profile as the ship apparently calls in at Canary Islands and France on the way to Southampton. Ship reaches UK waters, Capt says we have an incident. Crew hide in citadel. Seven stowaways wait for the arrival of Border Force. SBS do the job, guys hand themselves over, claim asylum and Captain and crew are above suspicion so don’t get done for adding and abetting. 7 “non-terrorist” get to stay in the UK at our expense.


How are you classifying them as terrorists which the speech marks indicate? By your own story they have broken no laws at all, they paid for a ride and did not enter the UK illegally as they were arrested by before they did so. No one has been killed/injured/etc.

Clearly they intended to break the law by entering illegally, but intention is not a crime.

We need to keep reminding ourselves we live in a country governed by rule of law and that we need to apply it to everyone to be considered civilised.


I didn’t classify them as terrorists. If you look at the text I marked them as “non”. It was originally reported as a terrorist incident, but my use of the speech marks was to emphasis that in my humble opinion, that they never were, they were emigrants from the point they boarded the ship in Lagos and became “immigrants” the moment they entered British waters. The lack of visa’s or prior approval to travel then made them “illegal immigrants”.

Mr Grahame Tearle

Fantastic news, however they have now claimed asylum and we can pay to keep them for the rest of their lives, great plan guys.


Yes, and coming to live in a hostel near you Grahame 🙂