A police helicopter and Coastguard helicopters were deployed to the Nave Andromeda crude oil tanker after the captain declared an emergency. The crew are said to be “sheltering in secure locations” of the ship amid reports the stoaways attempted to highjack the vessel. The ship which is registered in Liberia departed Nigeria on October 6.
It had been due to dock in Southampton this morning before the incident unfolded.
Sky News said the incident involves “at least half a dozen stowaways”.
An exclusion zone of three miles has been put place around the boat.
Tracking images from MarineTraffic.com show the ship has been zig-zagging in the English Channel today.
The incident occurred in The Solent
After turning around and appearing to head towards French waters, the vessel has since turned back towards the UK.
It is not yet clear who was in control of the tanker when these movements were made.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “We are currently assisting Hampshire Constabulary with an incident onboard a vessel situated off the Isle of Wight.
“The search and rescue helicopters from Lee on Solent and Lydd are in attendance.”
The ship in question
Hampshire Police said the oil tanker is south of the Isle of Wight, which is 17 miles from Southampton.
A spokesperson for the force said: “We are aware and dealing with an ongoing incident onboard a vessel which is situated south of the Isle of Wight.
“We will provide you with further updates when we are in a position to do so.”
HM Coastguard helicopters are hovering above the oil tanker
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 228-metre Nave Andromeda is currently anchored to the East of the Island between Ventnor and Shanklin.
Footage posted online by Isle of Wight Radio shows the ship off the coast of the island, as a witness describes see helipcopers “circling” the vessel.
The tanker was built in 2011 and is 228 metres in length and 32 metres in width.
At full capacity, it can carry 42,338 tonnes.
It is woned by Greek firm Navios Tankers Management Inc, online listings suggest.
The tanker is off the coast of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight
Home Secretary Priti Patel is being kept up to date by authorities in relation to the ongoing incident.
The Ministry of Defence has said there is no military involvement in the operation.
Additional reporting by Richard Percival.
This is a breaking news story… More to follow…