A security incident is ongoing aboard an oil tanker off of the Isle of Wight in what has been described as a “major incident.”
HM Coastguard are understood to be circling the vessel, a crude oil tanker called the Nave Andromeda, with multiple search and rescue helicopters.
There had been fears the ship had been hijacked off of the south coast, although reports now suggest seven stowaways “became violent” after being discovered onboard the vessel, according to Sky News.
Hampshire Constabulary have confirmed the force is “aware and dealing with an ongoing incident” on board the vessel but have not given more information about the ships circumstance.
BBC reports that lawyers representing the vessel’s owners said the incident was “100% not a hijacking” and says the Ministry of Defence has confirmed there is no military involvement in the operation.
The ship gave out a mayday signal at around 9am on October 25, and crew are said to be “sheltering” at certain points on the ship, Sky News has reported.
Crew onboard the ship are said to have taken secure refuge following the discovery of the stowaways on board, Island Echo reports.
Other local reports from The Portsmouth News suggest an MoD police vessel has launched from Portsmouth towards the oil tanker and a Chinook helicopter has been launched following the incident.
The Liberian-registered vessel measures 228 metres by 32 metres, and weighs more than 42,000 tons.
It is understood that an exclusion zone of three miles is currently in place around the vessel.
Coastguard Rescue 175 helicopter from Lee-on-Solent has been circling the area as the situation unfolds.
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.”
Local MP Bob Seely told Sky News he expects the incident will be handled by marine counter-terrorism forces and that a COBR meeting has likely either been held or is due to be held.
He added that authorities are likely to be planning a way to get onto the ship.
“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,” he said.
Nave Andromeda was supposed to dock in Southampton this morning, but was refused entry and Government officials are now involved.
A spokeswoman for Associated British Ports (ABP), which runs Southampton port, said they had not had any contact with the vessel and they had no further comment.
The vessel is believed to be owned by Navios Tankers Management Inc, a Greek company.
It is reported to have made three stops in anchorages between Lagos, Nigeria and the UK.