Hampshire Police are currently dealing with a security incident aboard an oil tanker after the crew sent a mayday alert to HM Coastguard.
It is believed that a group of stowaways aboard the ship sparked the alert after they either made themselves known to the crew, or a member of the crew found them hiding on board the vessel.
Sky News is reporting that ‘half a dozen’ stowaways are aboard the ship. The vessel is currently several nautical miles off the south coast.
The cargo vessel, called ‘Nave Andromeda’, was due to dock in Southampton at around 10:30 today but is instead navigating around in circles suggesting that perhaps the entire crew are not in full control of the ship.
However, it could also be the case that the crew have secured themselves on the bridge and are awaiting further instructions from HM Coastguard.
HM Coastguard has applied a 5nm exclusion around the vessel, meaning that only the emergency services or security services will be allowed to approach the ship.
It is not yet clear as to whether or not the Royal Navy have any assets in the area – with HMNB Portsmouth being only a few nautical miles away from where the vessel is located.
Richard Meade, the editor of shipping news journal ‘Lloyds List’, told Sky News that seven stowaways are onboard.
According to Mr Meades, crew members had found the stowaways and tried to lock them in a cabin, but the situation became violent, and the security alarm was raised, Mr Meade said.
The authorities have not confirmed the account.
The 228-metre vessel is carrying 42,000 tonnes of crude oil.
She left Lagos, Nigeria, on 6th October before arriving in UK territorial waters.
The police and security services will have several options depending on whether or not the situation escalates, including deploying the elite Special Boat Squadron (SBS) should they be needed.
HM Coastguard and the Ministry of Defence are yet to comment on the situation.