Nave Andromeda stowaways will not face charges

Seven men will face no action over a suspected hijacking of an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight.

The UK Special Boat Service (SBS) stormed crude oil tanker Nave Andromeda (IMO 9580405) on October 25th 2020 after the crew raised concerns about stowaways.

Two of the seven, Matthew Okorie and Sunday Sylvester, had previously been charged with conduct endangering ships.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that the cases had been discontinued after they heard new expert evidence.

Hampshire Constabulary said that the five other men, who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force, would now face no police action. However, they will remain detained under immigration regulations.

Senior district crown prosecutor Sophie Stevens said that “after additional maritime expert evidence came to light, we concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction and discontinued the case.”

The Nave Andromeda had left Lagos in Nigeria on October 5th, bound for Southampton. As it approached the Isle of Wight on October 25th the ship issued an emergency call reporting stowaways on board. Emergency marine services were told that the 22 crew members had locked themselves in the ship’s citadel.

The Ministry of Defence called the incident a “suspected hijacking”. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorized a special forces operation in response to the police request.

A three-mile exclusion zone was put in place around the vessel.

In an operation on Sunday night SBS commandos boarded the vessel and arrested the seven men, believed to be Nigerian nationals. The operation took only nine minutes.

A team of Royal Navy divers checked if the vessel had been mined – but it had not.

2011-built, Liberia-flagged, 42,338 gt Nave Andromeda is owned by Great Folegandros Ltd care of Navios Tankers Management of Piraeus, Greece. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Great Folegandros ltd and with Generali Assurances for H&M on behalf of Navios Tankers Management.