Hampshire Police has confirmed, on behalf of the CPS, that the seven men who ‘hijacked’ an oil tanker off the south coast of England will face no further action.
On 25th October, UK special forces stormed the Nave Andromeda after the ship’s crew issued a mayday call, reporting that seven stowaways on board the vessel had become ‘aggressive’.
In a special operation that lasted only a few minutes, elite soldiers from the SBS quickly subdued and detained the stowaways before handing them over to Hampshire Police.
Matthew Okorie, 25 and Sunday Sylvester, 22, had been charged with conduct endangering ships under S.58 Merchant Shipping Act 1995
But the CPS said that all charges had been dropped after ‘additional evidence came to light as part of the investigation’.
Hampshire Constabulary said the five other men, who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force, also face no further police action.
The 748ft-long tanker had left Lagos in Nigeria on 5th October bound for Southampton.
After 20 days at sea, it approached the Isle of Wight.
As the vessel neared land, a crew member found the stowaways who allegedly started to threaten the crew.
The crew locked themselves in a secure area onboard the ship and issued a Mayday call that was picked up by HM Coastguard.
At the time the Ministry of Defence called the incident a “suspected hijacking” and said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorised a special forces operation in response to the police request.
Under the cover of darkness, elite commandos risked their own lives as they launched an operation that lasted under ten minutes.
Footage released at the time showed the special forces fast-roping onto the ship’s deck as other commandos ascended the vessel via its beam.
Once onboard, the soldiers quickly located and detained the seven men, all believed to be Nigerian nationals.
Senior District Crown Prosecutor, Sophie Stevens, said:
“The CPS has a duty to keep all cases under continuous review and after additional maritime expert evidence came to light, we concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction and discontinued the case.”
Hampshire Police confirmed that the seven males ‘will remain detained under immigration powers in accordance with published processes’.
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