British special forces regain control of hijacked ship off UK coast

Four stowaways from Nigeria have been arrested in the United Kingdom after special forces stormed a cargo ship off the country's coast.

Essex Police said the vessel, in the Thames Estuary, was boarded at around 11pm on Friday and was taken to the Port of Tilbury in Essex.

The incident resulted in Special Forces Commandos rappelling in by helicopter to handle the situation.

The men are now set to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Essex Police were first alerted to an incident on the 71,000-tonne Grande Tema, which made its way to the United Kingdom after leaving Lagos, Nigeria, on 10 December.

Crew members were able to lock themselves in the bridge and call for help, alerting authorities that the migrants were armed and acting "aggressively".

"The problem is the four people free on the deck threatening members and requesting them to get closer".

The stowaways, who are obviously migrants had threatened staff on-board.

The Italian-flagged ship was carrying containers and machinery.

According to Reuters, the suspects were believed to have boarded the vessel in Nigeria and had demanded to be taken to the English coast, threatening the Grande Tema's crew with iron bars.

'Four men have been detained under the Immigration Act.

"That request was probably because they wanted to jump and reach the British coast", Paul Kyprianou, a spokesman for Grimaldi Lines, told Sky News. Then another helicopter landed on the ship with six police officers on board.

  • Rogelio Becker