A team from Britain’s Special Boat Service has rescued a ship and its crew from a gang of potentially violent stowaways.
Authorities have confirmed that four men have now been arrested and detained by Essex Police under the Immigration Act.
The incident involved the 71,000-tonne Italian vessel – the Grande Tema– which was travelling from Lagos, Nigeria, and was off the coast of Margate when the stowaways attempted to take control of the ship.
Twenty-five Special Boat Service operatives fast-roped from helicopters on to the ship in an operation that lasting less than half an hour.
“The crew had found four stowaways and put them into a locked cabin,” explained Paul Kyprianou, a spokesman for the Grande Tema’sowner, Grimaldi Lines.
“However, they forced the door and got some iron bars and started threatening the crew.
“They wanted the ship to go closer to the coast, because they wanted to swim to England.
“The crew reacted by locking themselves in the bridge,
The ship had been making a routine 4,400-mile, 11-day trip from Lagos.
It’s believed that the stowaways boarded the ship during one of its three stops along the west African coast.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Royal Navy were also involved in dealing with the incident.